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May 10, 2024

cinch Premiership Play-Off quarter-final

Partick Thistle




Brian Graham 18, 47


Arron Lyall 55


Airdrie bowed out of the race for promotion to the cinch Premiership despite a valiant effort as they fell to a 4-3 aggregate defeat at the hands of Partick Thistle in the Play-Off quarter-final.

Diamonds’ boss Rhys McCabe made one change to the side which took part in the exhilarating midweek encounter at the Excelsior Stadium, Arron Lyall replacing the injured Adam Frizzell in midfield.

Kris Doolan named an unchanged Thistle side as he aimed to return his side to the cinch Premiership for the first time since 2018.

Referee Colin Steven’s whistle signalled a tentative start to the match, as both teams attempted to adjust to a game of such magnitude in front of a high-spirited crowd of over 6,500.

The visitors retained much of the ball in the first 15 minutes of play, but without creating any real goalscoring opportunities.

This Airdrie domination was broken up only by a Brian Graham strike which was blocked superbly by Cammy Ballantyne on the edge of the penalty area.

However, the Diamonds’ failure to turn their possession into chances was soon capitalised on by Thistle.
Good play down the right by Aidan Fitzpatrick allowed the forward to square to marksman Graham in the 18th minute, who made no mistake in slamming home from less than six yards to put his side in front as the offside flag stayed down.

With their noses in front, the Jags began to take control of possession, still not creating as much as Kris Doolan would have hoped, but reducing Airdrie to even fewer chances.

The Diamonds began to come back into the game as a tight half drew to a close, although Gabby McGill firing a volley over the bar after a neat passage of play was the closest they came to a first half equaliser.

While Rhys McCabe’s side had kept possession effectively, this hadn’t been taken advantage of, and the Diamonds’ boss saw fit to replace McGill with Lewis McGregor during the break in the search for some additional firepower up front.

Despite the attacking addition, the second half got off to a disastrous start for the visitors, as a slip only two minutes after the restart allowed Scott Robinson to square to Graham who produced a deft flick to notch both his, and his team’s, second goal of the evening.

This goal seemed to revitalise Airdrie, seeing them come forward more often in search of a lifeline in the match, which came soon after via Lyall.

Some excellent play by substitute McGregor on the right of the Thistle box saw a cross delivered which was deflected to the edge of the penalty area, straight to the feet of the on-loan
Rangers midfielder who finished perfectly into the bottom left of David Mitchell’s goal.

Another substitution followed, with Murray Aiken replacing Charlie Telfer in the middle of the park as the Diamonds searched for an equaliser, which was looking increasingly likely with a string of successive corners.

The home side resisted the pressure well however, resulting in further introductions of both Calum Gallagher and Chris Donnell, who replaced Lyall and Craig Watson for the visitors.

Teasing crosses were continually fired in by Mason Hancock and Kanayo Megwa but they were well defended by Aaron Muirhead and Luke McBeth, until the best opportunity of the evening presented itself in the dying embers.

A Nikolay Todorov header was blocked in the six-yard box following a corner with the rebound falling to Callum Fordyce, but his powerful strike crashed off the crossbar.

Six minutes of stoppage time were recommended by the fourth official, and it was at the end of these that Fitzpatrick looked to have ensured Thistle’s victory, but his dinked finish hit the side netting as he raced through one on one with Robbie Hemfrey.

Despite a noble Airdrie effort, it is Partick Thistle who will face Ian Murray’s Raith Rovers on Tuesday evening as they aim to gain promotion to the cinch Premiership, while Airdrie supporters look favourably back upon a highly successful first season back in the Championship.

Daniel Sutherland at The Wyre Stadium at Firhill.

Photos © Redacted Media. Click to view full-size.

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