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Saturday August 1, 2015

Scottish League Cup round 1

Stirling Albion





Morton 40


Jordan Morton's first-half strike was the difference as Airdrie progressed to the second round of the League Cup.

The winger rounded off a superb team move to slot home five minutes from the interval, and the single goal was enough to see off hosts Stirling Albion.

Airdrie boss Gary Bollan had alluded to changes to the line-up that suffered Petrofac Cup defeat at Annan last week, and Liam Watt, Scott Stewart and Nicolas Šumský made way for Chris O'Neil, Bryan Prunty and scorer Morton.

Stuart McLaren's Stirling team featured ex-Diamond Phil Johnston and former Celtic, Hearts and Scotland striker Craig Beattie.

The home side were first to get a sight of goal, but Willie Robertson's 25-yard effort was well over on 9 minutes.

The Diamonds probed at the other end, Prunty linking well with Taylor Morgan. The two played a neat one-two through the centre of the Binos defence on 16 minutes, but Prunty's shot was deflected wide.

Morton hit the side netting minutes later, driving an effort in from the corner of the area after collecting a return pass from his short corner.

Stirling were packing the midfield area, frustrating the visitors' attempts to break forward, while allowing for some neat incisive passing of their own. They lacked penetration however, and any forward momentum was spoiled by shots well wide of the target.

Airdrie almost opened the scoring on 38 minutes, Morton's corner from the right nodded down by Cox to Morgan, whose volley was brilliantly turned round the post by Chris Smith in the Albion goal.

The Diamonds were ahead just two minutes later, a patient build-up involving Jamie Bain, Alan Lithgow and Morgan ending up with the ball dropping to Morton, who controlled well before firing home from 10 yards.

Chris O'Neil picked up a knock towards the end of the first half and only lasted 5 minutes of the second, replaced by Bryan Gilfillan who took up his familiar midfield position, allowing David van Zanten to drop back and cover the vacant left-back spot.

Where Morton had been the focal point of much of Airdrie's attacking play on the left, David Cox was now finding joy on the opposite flank.

Twice in quick succession the ex-Peterhead man picked out Taylor Morgan with brilliant through balls, the big striker scooping over with his first attempt before heading wide and crossing with his second. The square ball found Bryan Prunty who brought it down well before firing over.

The hosts were coming into the game more as Airdrie began to defend deeper, and Ross Forsyth stooped to get on the end of a 68th minute cross, but somehow managed to slice his header across goal.

Ex-Diamond Johnston was screaming for a spot-kick 6 minutes later, but he seemed to go down in anticipation of van Zanten's challenge, and referee Mike Roncone waved his claims away.

Binos substitute Salim Kouider-Aissa had a pop from range as the clock ticked down, but Neil Parry held his effort with ease.

However the striker spurned a glorious chance to force extra time right at the death as the ball dropped to him 5 yards from goal and he blazed his effort wildly over the bar.

The win sees Airdrie through to Monday's Second Round draw, and gives the squad a positive platform on which to begin the league campaign next weekend.

Stuart Mathie at Forthbank.

Photographs © Robert Dalzell. Click to view full-size.

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