Tuesday July 24, 2018
Betfred Cup Group F
Sean Crighton 38
Ryan Conroy 54
Darryl Duffy 56
Dale Carrick 88
David Wilson 84
The Diamonds recorded another impressive Betfred Cup win, overcoming Annan Athletic in a match brimming with goalscoring flair.
With Livingston favourites to win their final tie against Berwick Rangers and top the group, Airdrie’s second Betfred Cup win in four days provides them with a fighting chance to make it through the group stages as one of the best placed runners-up.
Stevie Findlay’s side's second half display ensured they would go above visitors Annan who rounded off their fixtures at the Penny Cars Stadium.
The Galabankies proved difficult to break down in a first half marred by a clash of heads between Annan keeper Alex Mitchell and Leighton McIntosh which saw both players leave the field after half an hour.
McIntosh was on the end of Josh Edwards’ cross from the left after four minutes but saw his netbound header gathered by Mitchell.
The former Peterhead and Arbroath striker had clipped a decent ball into the box on 16 minutes for Kieran Millar, who was pulled up for controlling the ball with his arm as he was about to get a shot away.
McIntosh was also in the right place as he dived at the front post to meet another Edwards delivery after 24 minutes, with keeper Mitchell grateful to team-mate Peter Watson for the block.
Aside from the McIntosh threat, Darryl Duffy had been inches away from meeting a driven cross from Scott Robertson on 19 minutes.
Annan’s Aidan Smith was almost in after Scott Gallacher had spilled a cross, but the Diamonds keeper was quick to smother the ball ahead of any challenge.
There was a long delay while McIntosh and Mitchell were treated following their 30th minute collision, leaving the respective managers in no doubt that both players involvement was over, though thankfully both were able to walk off the pitch.
Young Annan replacement keeper Robbie Minto had barely taken his place between the sticks when Airdrie skipper Sean Crighton took full advantage of a retreating Annan backline. A good run across the edge of the box by Kieran MacDonald in 38 minutes was followed by a lay-off to Crighton who took a couple of steps and struck a 25-yard effort that took a deflection on the way past Robbie Minto into the Annan net.
Annan had a chance to level matters on 42 minutes, but Scott Roberts shot from 20 yards out lacked power and was easily gathered by Gallacher.
An excellent mazy run by Grant Gallagher nine minutes after the restart saw the midfielder dumped on the edge of the box after a poor challenge, and Ryan Conroy made the visitors pay after he curled the free kick around the wall into the net to double the advantage.
Two minutes later Dale Carrick chased Millar’s ball down the right, giving himself room to cut the ball back for Duffy who fired a powerful shot beyond Minto for his third goal in three successive Betfred ties this season.
Aidan Smith attempted to reduce the margin for Annan on 59 minutes but his curling shot was well taken by Gallacher.
The Airdrie keeper was also equal to a header from close range by defender Ayrton Sonkur, taking the ball low at his right post.
Following a decent counter attack Smith also blazed the ball high over Gallacher’s goal with 11 minutes remaining as the visitors looked to get on the scoresheet.
Josh Edwards, who had worked tirelessly throughout, almost found himself with a goal to his name on 82 minutes when fine play by Cammy Russell on the right fashioned a chance as Edwards came in at the back post, but the young defender could not direct the ball on target.
David Wilson provided Annan with a terrific goal, struck from around 30 yards out, on 84 minutes to reduce the deficit.
However, the home support rose to their feet two minutes from time after Carrick controlled a strong cross into the penalty box with his back to goal. His control and turn was followed by a superb volley into the net for goal number four on the night for Airdrieonians, Carrick’s first in competition this season - and how he enjoyed it.
A Lanarkshire derby at Hamilton will round off the Group F matches for both sides, and the possibility of remaining in the competition is a realistic one for the Diamonds.
John O'Brien at Penny Cars Stadium.
Photographs © John Steven. Click to view full size.