Saturday January 12, 2013
Irn Bru SFL Division 1
Donnelly 4, 60
Di Giacomo 83 pen
Airdrie's young guns silenced their critics after a surprise 3-1 win at East End Park against top side Dunfermline.
It was a bad day to be a gambler as bottom side Dumbarton also had a surprise win, beating Partick Thistle 2-0 at The Rock.
The two sides meet next week in a mouth-watering six-pointer, with confidence high in both camps.
Diamonds boss Jimmy Boyle stuck with his young stars for the game against the Pars, with Willie McLaren and John Boyle being the oldest players in the starting 11.
The home side had ex-Airdrie striker Ryan Wallace in their team, with another former Diamond Joe Cardle on the bench.
But it was the visitors who made the brighter start. After some good passing between Boyle and Jamie Bain, the ball fell to Ryan Donnelly who slotted home the opener just inside the fourth minute.
Just as the Diamonds fans started cheering the goal, the whole stadium started their fourth minute applause for former Pars captain Norrie McCathie, who died 17 years ago.
It wasn't long before the home fans were cheering a goal of their own though. Less than ten minutes after Donnelly's opener, Alex Whittle dispossessed Chris O'Neil and sent a cross in for Wallace to get in front of Grant Adam to tap in the equaliser.
Wallace could have doubled his tally minutes later after heading a free-kick from Stephen Husband, but Adam saved.
Throughout the game, Donnelly continued to show signs of the form which bagged him the Young Player of the Year award last season, with striker partner Boyle setting him up before he sent his shot wide.
Boyle himself was having a frustrating afternoon. In what started out as a Husband shot saved by Adam, Airdrie cleared a Dunfermline corner and hit the Pars on the break. Boyle ran in with the ball from the right hand side but got his touch all wrong in the box and keeper Paul Gallacher was spared any trouble.
In the second half, both sides continued to cancel each other out. Wallace's pace allowed him to trick Adam, but hit his shot wide in what should have been an open goal.
On the hour mark the Diamonds took the lead. Watt made a run down the middle and passed to McLaren, who flicked the ball onto Donnelly for his second of the afternoon.
The Pars' frustration started to show as both sides started to pick up bookings with a few nasty challenges.
Airdrie showed no signs of stopping though as Donnelly had another two chances to bag himself a hat-trick, but he couldn't make the most of them.
McLaren also had an attempt to increase the Diamonds' lead, but it was saved by the feet of former Scotland international Gallacher.
Dunfermline almost equalised with 15 minutes to go as Cardle had a shot saved by Adam and fellow substitute Andy Kirk's header bounced off the post and out for a goal kick.
The visitors completed their shock result as Bain was brought down just inside the box and referee Euan Norris awarded a penalty, despite the home players contesting that the challenge was outside the box.
Substitute Paul Di Giacomo sent Gallacher the wrong way to increase Airdrie's lead and adding to the goal difference which could be vital come the end of the season.
Fellow strugglers Hamilton beat Cowdenbeath 2-1, and the Blue Brazil sit on 17 points with the Diamonds. Dumbarton are just behind on 14 points, ahead of next weekend's big game.
Douglas Barrie at East End Park.
Photographs © Stuart Mathie. Click to view full size.