Saturday July 21, 2018

Betfred Cup Group F

Berwick Rangers

0-3

Airdrieonians

Sean Crighton 21

Darryl Duffy 36

Leighton McIntosh 75

The Diamonds sparkled across the border as their second Betfred Cup match ended in a comfortable 3-0 win over Berwick Rangers.

Stevie Findlay’s side eased their way into third spot in Group F after a dominant win  at Shielfield. 

It was over ten years since the two sides had last met, and after Airdrie skipper Sean Crighton had headed his side in front, there was only ever going to be one winner.

 

Both sides had lost their opening tie, but Annan Athletic’s four goal win over the Wee Rangers saw the home side start this game with a distinctly defensive approach.

 

Berwick did provide some early threat when former Diamond Robert Wilson headed over Scott Gallacher’s crossbar with just four minutes gone.

 

Gallacher was also down quickly on 11 minutes to collect a low shot on target from Jordan Orru from the edge of the box, though an angled effort from Paul Willis was closer to the keeper’s back post two minutes later.

 

Ryan Conroy’s delivery from a corner had picked out Crighton in Airdrie’s closest chance on seven minutes, with the Diamonds captain serving notice of his aerial threat, heading narrowly wide.

 

Dale Carrick’s hard work and link play with Darryl Duffy saw him head wide of Sean Brennan’s goal, before a repeat of the Conroy/Crighton double act opened the scoring.

 

Conroy's 20th minute cross to the back post saw the centre back powerfully head the ball beyond Brennan to open the scoring.

 

Willis's 25-yard volley three minutes later was comfortably pushed over his crossbar by Gallacher, while the keeper was also equal to the threat of a curling cross into the box five minutes later, easily gathering the high delivery.  

 

As Airdrie looked to extent their advantage, some strong build up play by Scott Stewart down the right in 34 minutes then set up Carrick but only a timely challenge blocked his attempt to get a shot off.

 

Carrick was again in the thick of the action a minute later, almost connecting to Josh Edwards' cross from the left only to see the ball claimed by Brennan.

 

Airdrie’s pressure paid off with nine minutes of the half remaining. Scott Stewart’s close control, nutmegging Declan O’Kane then sweeping past another challenge, ended with him firing the ball into the box and Duffy was quickest to react to tuck the ball into the net.

 

Carrick went close to adding a third three minutes from the break. A long ball from Scott Robertson was nodded back by Duffy to Carrick and his drilled shot was just to the right of Brennan’s goal.

 

Duffy went close to a third goal a minute after the restart. Robertson’s break forward down the right set up the striker for a powerful drive which saw the ball blasted against the left post then cleared upfield.

 

Birthday boy Kieran MacDonald set up Carrick with his delivery from the left two minutes later and his shot was well taken by keeper Brennan.

 

Crighton was next up in 49 minutes with the keeper again making a fine save to keep his side in the contest.

 

On the hour Carrick and Robertson linked to create a chance for the big defender, but once again keeper Brennan made a decent save.

 

Airdrie were after one more goal kill the game and it came in 76 minutes when two substitutes combined to seal the points.

 

Jonathan Page, on at the interval, won the ball inside the box then was taken down. While others were claiming for a spot kick for the foul on Page, Leighton McIntosh had the presence of mind to control the ball and fire it into the back of the net without hesitation. 

Five minutes from time, Diamonds keeper Gallacher was alert to Daryl Healy’s late run to race out and smother the ball, ensuring a clean sheet in addition to the win to collect the three points.   

Annan Athletic visit the Penny Cars Stadium next, their first trip to Airdrie since joining the League. Whatever the outcome, Tuesday's match will have a major bearing on how the group shapes up.

John O'Brien at Shielfield Park.

Photographs © John Steven. Click to view full size.

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