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Friday July 15, 2016

Betfred Cup Group E





Partick Thistle

Kris Doolan 55

Match Gallery

Airdrie got the season off to an encouraging start with a narrow defeat to Premiership opposition in the Betfred Cup.

The Diamonds kicked off the new League Cup structure against Group E favourites Partick Thistle on a rainy Friday night.

While the Premiersip side enjoyed the better moments in the match, there did not appear to be 17 league placings (based on last season’s finishes) between the two sides.

Alan Archibald’s Jags came within a couple of results of finishing in the top six of the Premier League, while many of the group that Kevin McBride has assembled have only been introduced to each other in the last couple of months.

Airdrieonians made one change from their starting line up at Annan, with Conor McLaughlin starting in place of James Daly.

In the early stages, Thistle knocked the ball about like a side comfortable with their status as group favourites.

A cross into the box in 11 minutes was headed wide of goal by Kris Doolan, while poor control by Chris Erskine let him down three minutes later and his attempt on goal was blocked.

Joe Gorman was a pillar in the home back line, blocking a shot from Erskine after a knockdown by Doolan minutes later.

Airdrie showed some great link up play on 22 minutes when an Adam Brown cross was knocked on by Iain Russell. Fellow striker Andy Ryan worked some space on the right to send in a great shot for goal, which Jags keeper David Crawford dived low to push away before the danger was cleared.

Thistle had the ball in the net in 25 minutes after Erskine and Doolan combined, but an offside flag was raised.

Goalkeeper Rohan Ferguson was proving his worth on 28 minutes, diving to take Danny Devine’s low drilled shot then collecting Erskine’s headed attempt from a Steven Lawless cross three minutes later.

With 38 minutes played Marc Fitzpatrick and Ryan combined, but the striker’s shot from 20 yards was deflected for a corner.

Four minutes later Ryan’s overhead kick saw Brown rise to head for goal with Crawford taking the ball high under his bar.

The visitors had a great chance to break the deadlock two minutes from the break. Declan McDaid’s 20-yard effort was pushed away by Ferguson, and Lawless could only hit the post with his follow up effort from ten yards out.

Three minutes into the second half Airdrie were forced into a change, Fitzpatrick making way having been on the end of a heavy first half challenge.

In 55 minutes Ferguson played the ball to Hugo Faria 25 yards out. The substitute was caught in possession and Erskine and McDaid combined to set up Doolan, who sidefooted the ball into the net.

A superb run by Scott Stewart saw him weave his way into the box in 61 minutes only to see his drilled cross blocked.

Ryan Conroy’s back post cross in 65 minutes threatened but found no takers as the ball passed everyone.

A period of decent Airdrie pressure followed and in 72 minutes with Conroy, Russell and Ryan pressing the ball, it was Ryan who saw a Thistle defender throw his body on the line to block the ball for a corner.

A minute later some great link up play almost saw substitute Kevin Schmidt put Russell in behind the Jags defence, but Airdrie’s most recent signing followed up to fire in a low 25-yard shot which Crawford collected.

Thistle substitute Ade Azeez was given a great chance to score in the 82nd minute when he had only Ferguson to beat, but the keeper knocked the ball away for a corner with his foot.

As the match moved towards the final whistle, Crawford gathered a low Schmidt effort from 20 yards out in 87 minutes, while a minute from time Doolan fired low to the right of Ferguson’s goal but wide of the target.

There was much to be pleased about for the home fans and Kevin McBride, having seen the side kick off the season against difficult opposition - and prove they can compete.

John O'Brien at New Broomfield.

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

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