Saturday January 9, 2016

William Hill Scottish Cup round 4

Airdrieonians

0-1

Dundee United

Spittal 79

It took a moment of setpiece magic from Dundee United to knock the desperately unlucky Diamonds out of the William Hill Scottish Cup.

A crowd just short of 2,500 saw United win their first match in 11 games courtesy of an exquisite free kick by former Queens Park striker Blair Spittal to allow the visitors to continue their stranglehold over the Diamonds in cup competition.

Jim Lister made his first start of the season, while Dylan Mackin of the two recent arrivals from Fir Park was on the bench.

Bryan Prunty went close to putting Airdrie in front with just three minutes on the clock when his headed attempt was netbound until visiting keeper Eiji Kawashima turned the ball over the crossbar for a corner.

A succession of corners for the home side increased the pressure on the visitors but they were unable to make them count.
As Mixu Paatelainen’s side steadily started to pass the ball, it was not until nine minutes into the match before Chris Erskine gathered just outside the box and fired wide of the goal for his side’s first attempt of the match.

With quarter of an hour gone, Jamie Bain’s curling back post cross saw Prunty chase the ball to the back post but the striker could only send the ball into the side netting.

Two minutes later Paul Dixon’s 20 yard shot struck the crossbar. Keeper Rohan Ferguson reacted well to save from Blair Spittal’s follow up shot on target for the first of a number of decent saves he made.

Marc Fitzpatrick was on target on 18 minutes though his shot was well taken by Kawashima.

Spittal was providing decent width down the right and his 26th minute delivery was flicked the ball for goal by Billy Mckay but it was easily taken by Ferguson.

The Diamonds back line maintained great control with Alan Lithgow and Sean Crighton’s timely blocks and organisation suffocating the visitors' passing game in the final third, restricting them to a number of shots from distance.

Scott Fraser, returning to the scene of some excellent Diamond displays last season, dispossessed Liam Watt in 31 minutes, then struck a 25 yard shot that Ferguson collected in the middle of his goal.

Ferguson was taking confidence from increased involvement and punched clear from Fraser’s curling corner into the box four minutes from the break.

The visitors were quickly out of the blocks in the second half as McKay headed Dixon’s cross wide of goal a minute after the restart.

The play flowed quickly to the other end as David Cox created some space for himself on the break then drilled a powerful shot that Kawashima saved well.

Ferguson collected Erskine’s 65th minute 25 yard shot and was really showing a complete absence of any nerves.

Two attempts from Airdrie in 67 minutes saw Prunty fire wide of the goal with a spectacular overhead kick, though substitute Dylan Mackin did force Kawashima into making a save after stealing the ball from John Rankin.

Ferguson made three decent saves in a four minute spell, which began with the keeper taking a back post cross from Spittal in 71 minutes, following that up with the save of the match as he dived low to his left to turn Fraser’s netbound shot away for a corner in 74 minutes, then saving again as the former Airdrie loanee raced in from the right.

Fraser won a hotly-contested free kick to the left side of the penalty box with 11 minutes remaining.

Spittal curled the ball over the top of the wall giving Ferguson no chance.

The Diamonds failed to grab the lifeline in in 83 minutes after Watt gave himself room inside the box, but his shot was straight at keeper Kawashima with the visitors seeing out the remaining time to hold on for that single goal victory.

John O'Brien at New Broomfield.

Photographs © John Steven. Click to view full-size.

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