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Saturday December 28, 2019

Ladbrokes League One





Dale Carrick 39 pen


David McMillan 34


Airdrieonians kicked off the second half of the season with a home draw against Falkirk to maintain their unbeaten record this season against the Bairns.


The last two months of 2019 have seen Ian Murray’s side maintain an unbeaten home record, and the point gained saw the Diamonds move into second spot in the table.  


Both sides showed early attacking intent with Declan McManus doing well to stay onside then fashion a volley from just inside the box after three minutes, sending the ball over the Airdrie goal.


Two minutes later Paul McKay was on the end of a Kyle MacDonald cross but sent his attempt wide of the visitors’ goal.


As both sides looked to create openings, play was often bogged down in the middle of the park. 

On 18-minutes MacDonald’s corner was directed towards goal by Kieran Millar but knocked away for another corner, then Kurtis Roberts got on the end of a Falkirk clearance but sent the ball well over keeper Robbie Mutch’s goal.


A Falkirk defensive clearance on the 21-minute mark was well taken by David McMillan who showed decent control as keeper David Hutton advanced, but the striker sent the ball too high as it flew over the Airdrie goal.


The 27th minute saw real controversy after Callum Smith was hauled down by Lewis Toshney who was last man. A yellow card was shown with a free-kick given outside the penalty area, with home fans claiming a red would have been correct.


Handball was claimed after Crighton’s free kick hit the defensive wall, but the calls were ignored as Millar’s follow up on the rebound was also blocked and cleared.


McKay rose to meet another MacDonald corner with further handball claims made after his header was blocked then cleared upfield.


Before the visitors opened the scoring in 34 minutes, an excellent effort from McMillan was pushed away by Hutton then a Declan McManus strike brought another fantastic save from the Airdrie keeper.


From the resulting corner, the ball broke for the visitors top performer McMillan, who controlled the ball and then lashed it high into the Airdrie net.


The Diamonds reaction came soon after with the equalising goal on 39 minutes. A foul by Mark Durnan on Calum Gallagher led to a free-kick 30 yards out. MacDonald and Leon McCann combined before firing a low driven ball to Roberts 25 yards from goal. Roberts’ shot was blocked by former Diamond Gregor Buchanan’s arm and the referee pointed to the spot, with Dale Carrick firing the ball into the bottom left corner of the net.


Carrick worked some space on 42 minutes and his tame effort was on target but an easy take for Mutch.


Mutch was tested to a greater extent two minutes later when Carrick’s volley forced the keeper to push the ball away for a corner.


As a good spell followed for the home side, Crighton rose to meet a MacDonald cross from the right and beat the keeper but saw his headed effort strike the underside of the bar dropping close to the line before being cleared.


McKay and Toshney had the final efforts of the half, both going close as the teams went in level at the break.


Five minutes after the restart Smith’s persistence in pursuing a ball back to Mutch led to a chance for Roberts whose shot was blocked by Buchanan.    


Falkirk enjoyed a decent spell of pressure and possession midway through the second half

but had only a 64th minute McManus shot, which Hutton took cleanly, for all their control.


Airdrie substitute Craig Thomson almost put the Diamonds in front on 74 minutes after a fine piece of play saw him cut in from the left to the edge of the box then curl a 25-yard effort off Mutch’s crossbar.


Aidan Connolly had his 78th minute shot on goal blocked as the home side defended deep. 


McManus rose to head a stoppage time cross from the right but could only send his effort wide of goal.


Airdrie had a flurry of late corners but neither side appeared likely to add to those first half goals.    


With a few head-to-head meetings between the top four still to play both sides have much to play for in 2020. 

John O'Brien at the Penny Cars Stadium.

Match photography by John Steven. Click images to view full size.

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