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Saturday July 28, 2018

Betfred Cup Group F

Hamilton Academical




Rakish Bingham 62


Joao Victoria 83

A late Joao Victoria strike earned Airdrie a well deserved draw, but it wasn’t enough to see the Diamonds through to the Betfred Cup knockout stages as Hamilton Accies won 3-0 on penalties.


Stevie Findlay’s side turned in arguably their best performance of the season in the Lanarkshire derby Group F match, which will set a standard for the more important league matches that lie ahead. 


Despite falling behind with half an hour remaining, Airdrie continued to take the game to their hosts with substitute Victoria bagging a deserved equaliser for a point.


A bright first half display produced many positives, with a goal just eluding the Diamonds as Grant Gallagher and Darryl Duffy went close.


Scott Gallacher was the first keeper to be tested after three minutes when he dived to block Mickel Miller’s header from a cross into the box, with the loose ball being cleared upfield. 


Airdrie were pressing the home side down the flanks, with good play from Kyle Wilkie on the right and Kieran MacDonald down the left seemingly winning corners, but having no luck with the decisions. 


It was from Airdrie’s first corner after quarter of an hour that Gallagher met Ryan Conroy’s cross, leading to a goal line clearance. As play continued Conroy fired a low driven effort wide of the Hamilton goal.


Conroy’s 18th minute free kick from 25 yards out tested keeper Gary Woods who parried the ball then gathered it at a second attempt.


Three minutes later former Albion Rovers loanee Steven Boyd clipped the ball in behind the Airdrie rearguard and striker Rakish Bingham stretched to direct the ball for goal but Gallacher comfortably collected it.


The Diamonds strike partnership of Dale Carrick and Darryl Duffy went so close to breaking the deadlock in 26 minutes, an excellent interception by Carrick allowing him to race towards the edge of the box then slide the ball to Duffy who fired a powerful shot just wide of Woods’ right post.


As Airdrie continued to press an excellent delivery by Josh Edwards saw Duffy launch himself at the ball, powering his header off the underside of the bar before the loose ball was cleared.


Hamilton’s Bingham tested Gallacher on 32 minutes with a 20-yard shot which the keeper took cleanly.


As play swung to the other end Conroy whipped in a lovely curling attempt that was just too high.


Hamilton went close within the last ten minutes of the half though Gallacher was out quickly to smother a cross from the right with Bingham racing in to meet the cross, while Boyd sent an angled effort high over the crossbar.


It was Airdrie who went close to a half-time lead with a minute to play. Another excellent cross from Edwards was knocked on by Carrick as Woods challenged and with the ball heading for goal a timely clearance saw the danger cleared. 


Four minutes into the second half Carrick started an excellent move with another challenge to win possession and after slipping the ball on for Duffy he raced into the box, carrying the return pass left then firing the ball for goal with Woods doing well to turn the ball away for a corner. 


As challenges were flying in Airdrie saw Duffy and O’Neil booked, while after a soft free-kick award Adam Phillips fired in a 25-yard free kick which never threatened the Airdrie goal. 


With 62 minutes on the clock Accies took the lead. A Gallacher clearance was collected by Boyd who picked a pass to Miller, and his lay-off to Bingham gave him sight of the Airdrie goal as he fired a low driven shot into the net.


Miller lashed an angled shot wide in 69 minutes while substitute Dean Cairns got underneath a 20 yard shot that also saw the ball fly over the target.


The introduction of Joao Victoria provided a real spark in the closing ten minutes. Gallacher had made another fine save from Miller on 81 minutes, then with seven minutes left Airdrie linked well down the left, and Victoria’s pace and directness saw him weave his way upfield before passing the ball to Duffy inside the penalty area. Despite the tight angle, Victoria accepted the return and fired the ball past Woods to equalise.


In the last chance of the 90 minutes, Kieran MacDonald had an excellent run from deep but sent his effort wide of the goal frame from 20 yards.


The fighting spirit to the final whistle will be a real asset for the season ahead.


Penalties followed, and Conroy, Crighton and Carrick all saw their efforts saved by Woods while Hamilton’s three successful kicks gave them an extra point which had no final implication on the group standings.

John O'Brien at New Douglas Park.

Photographs © John Steven. Click to view full size.

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