Saturday January 4, 2020
Ladbrokes League One
Nat Wedderburn 73
Nat Wedderburn was Airdrie’s substitute hero as a single goal gave the Diamonds victory over Forfar Athletic.
When the Loons visited Airdrie on the opening day of the league campaign they left with all three points, but only six of the players who started for the Diamonds against Jim Weir’s side back in August made the starting line-up as Airdrie kicked off 2020 against a Forfar team now playing under new manager Stuart Malcolm.
The first half was certainly not one for the purists with neither side being able to get the ball down and play a passing game.
Ross Forbes struck an eighth-minute free-kick from distance with David Hutton gathering the ball cleanly.
Callum Smith’s run on 15 minutes was followed by a cross which picked out Leon McCann on the other side of the box, but the full-back delayed his shot then set up Callum Fordyce who drilled a low strike well wide of the Forfar goal.
A minute later McCann’s free-kick caused some concern in the visitors’ box but the ball was cleared away.
Ross Forbes sent a 19th-minute attempt wide of goal and a minute later at the other end Dale Carrick volleyed a defensive clearance over the opposition crossbar.
A ball into the Airdrie box on 32 minutes was met by Darren Whyte and was blocked by Kyle MacDonald on the line as he ushered the ball to Hutton.
Forbes went close on 35 minutes from outside the area, but Diamonds top scorer Callum Gallagher sent the ball wide of the visitor’s goal from inside the six yard box after Sean Crighton’s knockdown in the box was not cleared by the Forfar defence.
Kurtis Roberts hit a 25-yard volley straight at Forfar keeper Marc McCallum in the centre of his goal just before the break to leave the sides going in at the interval goalless.
Three minutes after the restart Smith’s header from close range was too high as it went over the crossbar and Carrick had a shot blocked a minute later as Airdrie tried to break the deadlock.
Carrick was on the end of a Fordyce header from a Paul McKay throw but sent the ball directly at McCallum on 58 minutes, while Murray MacKintosh sent his effort from inside the penalty area over the crossbar after play raced to the other end.
The respective keepers were managing all that came in their direction. McCallum comfortably took MacDonald’s long range attempt on 61 minutes while Hutton was equal to a MacKintosh shot after a decent run three minutes later.
With 24 minutes left substitute Wedderburn played a decent one-two with Smith on the edge of the box then fired a low shot on target which McCallum gathered.
In the space of three second half minutes both sides had the chance to grab the lead.
With 71 minutes on the clock Forfar had a free-kick 25 yards out and while Hutton made a decent save from Ross Forbes curling attempt, Mackintosh followed and sent the rebound high over the crossbar from inside the box.
However with 73 minutes gone an excellent corner from Dean Hawkshaw picked out Paul McKay and his header towards goal was knocked on by Sean Crighton with substitute Nat Wedderburn sending the ball into the net past keeper Marc McCallum to earn the home side the advantage.
Crighton then headed an excellent Hawkshaw free-kick wide as he raced in to meet the cross.
Craig Thomson raced on to a Wedderburn ball in behind the Forfar defence and his low driven shot was well taken by McCallum on 89 minutes, saving at his right post.
Forbes was wasteful with a stoppage-time free-kick as the Diamonds saw out the match to bag all three precious points from a hard-fought contest.
It was particularly pleasing to see all three substitutes making a contribution towards the final outcome with so many tough fixtures ahead in the second half of the season.
John O'Brien at the Penny Cars Stadium.
Match photography by John Steven. Click images to view full size.