Saturday July 27, 2019
Betfred Cup Group F
Callum Smith 10
Ally Roy 24
Ross Cunningham 48 pen, 60 pen
Marios Ogkmpoe 89
Hamilton came from two down to win the Lanarkshire derby and proceed into the Betfred Cup knockout stages.
First half goals from Callum Smith and Ally Roy saw Airdrie harbour hopes of qualifying from Group F until fate dealt a huge blow after the interval which led to the visitors going through ahead of them.
Twice in the opening five minutes James Cowan was on the end of cutbacks from Callum Smith and Calum Gallacher, but the midfielder was off target with shots from inside the box.
Airdrie took the lead with 10 minutes played. After a foul on Roy, the free kick into the box was cleared with the return being played into the box. Sean Crighton got to the ball first, sending it across the face of goal with Smith firing the ball into the net from close range for the opening goal.
Accies first real threat came after 16 minutes when Reegan Mimnaugh set up Ross Cunningham whose 25-yard shot was comfortably taken by David Hutton.
The Airdrie keeper was also equal to Blair Alston’s 30-yard free kick which came through the defensive wall.
After a foul by Scott McMann on Gallacher, Cowan and Adam Eckersley lined up for the free kick 20 yards out. Cowan’s effort was easily blocked by the Hamilton defensive wall but Roy strode onto the loose ball and his powerful 25-yard volley could only be directed into his own net by keeper Owain Fôn Williams.
Eight minutes of the half remained when Calum Fordyce sent over a terrific cross from the right wing that was just too much for Kieran Millar to get on the end of as he raced into the box.
Three minutes after the restart Hamilton, who had lacked any cutting edge in the first half, were given a lifeline back into the tie after a penalty was awarded to the surprise of everyone in the ground. A floated ball from the left to the right saw Adam Eckersley and Aaron McGowan challenge for the ball which passed both of them, with referee Gavin Duncan pointing to the spot. Brian Rice’s side reduced the deficit as Ross Cunningham sent the ball into the net.
The visitors had further good fortune in 53 minutes, again involving McGowan when the full back was high and off the ground with his challenge on Eckersley but referee Duncan believed that a yellow card was only merited, although many neutral observers felt it was a clear red card offence.
Cunningham netted a second from a second penalty with half an hour remaining after Callum Gallagher was adjudged to have deliberately handled while challenging for a corner.
Smith was on the end of a Fordyce cross into the box in 64 minutes but sent his volley over the visitor’s goal.
Cunningham saw a 77th minute shot from outside the box take a deflection as it clipped the crossbar on the way over the top.
Eckersley fired in a free-kick on 84 minutes which came off the visitor’s wall, with Roy firing a volley over the target from the resulting corner.
Substitute Kurtis Roberts was next up for a pop at goal on 89 minutes before the visitors took the game to the other end and lone striker Marios Ogkmpoe was able to find space to fire home a powerful 25-yard volley in off the bar, giving Hutton no chance for the winner.
Two substitutions in stoppage time by manager Brian Rice to run down the clock was an indication of how anxious and relived the Premiership side were to hang on their lead.
Three games inside a week have seen decent performances and goals being shared around the squad. Next week’s league opener will be another tough test given Forfar Athletic’s form in the competition.
John O'Brien at the Penny Cars Stadium.
Match photography by John Steven. Click images to view full size.