Friday July 11, 2014

Pre-season friendly

Strathspey Thistle

1-3

Peters

Airdrieonians

Kirwan
Coogans
Gray

Canadian keeper Lucas Birnstingl - previously with Dundee and Clyde - was an unknown surprise to the travelling support, starting in goal for the Diamonds while 19 year old Jack Kirwan, released by Celtic having featured at schoolboy and international youth level, also started the game up front. Former Hibernian youth central defender Robert Wilson lined up at the back.

Chris O’Neil and John Boyle also started the match and manager Gary Bollan will feel they are like new signings as O’Neil was unable to play for much of the season while John Boyle missed it completely. The manager sent out a relatively young side and the energy levels of the team for the pre-season fixture as a whole was high.

In a first half which Airdrie controlled, the defensive set up allowed few opportunities for Birnstingl to get involved, while Airdrie’s opportunities around the Strathspey goal were limited although they were able to make a first half breakthrough. The quick passing approach led to constant involvement of Hamill and Haggerty, both very comfortable with taking the ball in tight situations. The opening goal came midway through the first period when O’Neil’s cross from the right was met by Kirwan who showed great persistence after a couple of shots were blocked, before firing the ball into the net.

While wholesale changes at the start of the second half to allow game time for everyone in the travelling squad disrupted the flow of the match and it was difficult to keep up with the changes especially when there appeared to be duplication in the numbers on the Diamonds jerseys. Despite the substitutions, the much-changed Airdrie line up after the interval eventually settled down to dominate the second period.

Close to the hour Liam Coogans pounced on a loose ball inside the six yard box to slot home a second goal. 7 minutes later a ball from the Strathspey half caught out Airdrie’s back line, allowing a run clear for Peters with just keeper Birnstingl to beat, and he did well to lob the extremely tall Canadian and reduce the deficit.

With time running out Scott Gray picked up the ball wide left in the final third of the field, before cutting inside for a better sight at goal and blasting a 20 yard shot high into the net to round off the scoring.

The pleasing feature was the willingness of players to make runs for teammates and covering back after losing possession while youngsters O’Neil, Haggerty, Stewart and Watt seemed to thrive with the experience of playing in the team and encouragement they received from the older personnel.

John O'Brien at Seafield Park.

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