Saturday September 26, 2015
Ladbrokes League One
Airdrieonians retained their place in the top four on goal difference, after a gutsy determined display at East End Park.
Dunfermline enjoyed the early pressure with Rhys McCabe’s cross in three minutes cleanly taken by Neil Parry.
Two minutes later Faissal El Bahktaoui hit a 20-yard effort over the crossbar.
With eight minutes gone, Joe Cardle weaved a path into the box and just overhit a pass intended for fellow ex-Diamond Ryan Wallace. The play moved quickly to the other end and a superb back post ball by Liam Watt picked out George Hunter whose header was netbound, only for keeper Sean Murdoch to make the save as he pushed the ball against Hunter and collected the rebound.
On 12 minutes Parry was down quickly to gather the ball after Scott Smith partially blocked Shaun Byrne’s effort.
After the home side’s decent opening spell, the Diamonds started to enjoy more of the ball.
Watt’s free kick in 13 minutes saw the ball break to Taylor Morgan from Hunter’s header. The big striker turned inside the penalty box and blazed the ball wide of goal.
It was Airdrieonians who took the lead in 18 minutes. A fine ball down the right by Jamie Bain was well controlled by David Cox, who slipped the ball in behind the home defence to Hunter. The on-loan hitkid fired a powerful shot past Murdoch who was only able to help the ball into the net.
Midway through the half Parry was again equal to the shot, this time a 20-yard effort from Lewis Martin.
It seemed as though the Pars had levelled in 38 minutes after Cardle headed the ball into the net from inside the six-yard box but an offside flag had gone up.
Gary Bollan’s side could easily have added a second goal in 40 minutes. A Watt free kick saw Cox bring the ball down on his chest, race into the box and unselfishly square for Morgan, but the pass was behind him and the ball was cleared.
After the break the home side looked more like a side that had scored 42 goals in a dozen fixtures this season. Mickael Antoine-Curier and Michael Moffat were early replacements.
Moffat fired a decent volley that Parry pushed over the bar in 54 minutes.
Airdrie’s well-marshalled defence - with Alan Lithgow and Sean Crighton leading the way with blocked tackles, timely interceptions and headed clearances - deserved any good fortune they might have enjoyed.
On the hour Moffat’s mishit found Antoine-Curier and the former Dundee striker's shot from ten yards was superbly blocked by Parry and gathered at the second attempt.
Airdrie were also showing a decent level of counter attacking play. With 72 minutes gone, great play from Cox in front of Watt led to the midfielder sending in a powerful shot that was well taken by Murdoch.
Dunfermline levelled in 74 minutes. A long ball down the right was volleyed into the box instantly by Andrew Geggan and Moffat dived to head home the equaliser.
In the closing period the visitors were set out perfectly to deal with anything that came into the final third, the back four and keeper ably assisted by midfielder Marc Fitzpatrick just in front of the defensive shape.
It was a fine rearguard display with the occasional counter providing some respite.
The main concern in the closing period was whether the head knock David Cox received was something to be worried about, but he showed his steel by getting back up to play the rest of the match.
An excellent point and another fine performance to provide credentials for a top four challenge at the very least.
John O'Brien at East End Park.
Photographs © Robert Dalzell. Click to view full-size.