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Saturday August 31, 2019

Ladbrokes League One







A battling performance against title favourites Falkirk saw the Diamonds collect a hard-earned point in a goalless yet entertaining match. 


Both clubs had been looking for a return to winning ways having lost last Saturday. 


Leon McCann made his first start while Josh Kerr and Calum Gallagher were also back in the starting line-up, replacing Nat Wedderburn, Kurtis Roberts and Dale Carrick.


After three minutes a through ball from Callum Smith set up Craig Thomson with the chance to run in behind, but unfortunately he fell just outside the box.


With 13 minutes gone after good build up play from Kyle MacDonald, a blocked attempt fell for Gallagher and his shot was also blocked, on this occasion by former Diamond Gregor Buchanan.


A terrific Leon McCann free-kick on 17 minutes picked out Sean Crighton inside the box but the skipper was unable to get on the end of the ball.


Falkirk threatened on 18 minutes when Michael Tidser’s cross bounced in front of Declan McManus and Conor Sammon with neither able to make contact.


On the half hour Sammon’s bustling run took him to the edge of the box where he played in Aidan Connolly. The initial shot was blocked by goalkeeper David Hutton, who quickly gathered the loose ball at the second attempt with Connolly trying to get another shot away. 


McManus blasted a wayward 25-yard effort well over the Airdrie goal in 33 minutes after creating some space in front of goal.


With seven minutes of the half remaining the Falkirk fans celebrated after Sammon got on the end of a Gregor Buchanan knockdown from a corner, however the celebrations were short-lived after an offside flag was raised to see it disallowed.


MacDonald had a decent 25-yard shot curl away from Cammy Bell’s goal on 42 minutes and the sides went in at the break level.


After the restart, goalkeeper Robbie Mutch replaced Cammy Bell who had been struggling with a knee injury in the closing ten minutes of the first half.


In the first minute of the second half a terrific cross from the right by Gallagher picked out  Smith who sent his header wide of goal.


Morgaro Gomis’ 25-yard shot on 50 minutes was well over the bar, while McManus spoiled good lead up play from Gomis and Connolly when he blazed over a shot from the penalty spot with 57 minutes gone.


Full back Paul Dixon was also wide of the mark on the hour mark, sending his angled shot wide left of the goal.


As Airdrie enjoyed some good possession midway through the second half, they lacked a cutting edge in the final third. Gallagher sent a long range shot at Mutch but the big keeper gathered easily on 63 minutes, while after Smith turned his marker in 66 minutes he raced to the line but could only run the ball out of play.


With 67 gone Connolly did well on the left then cut back inside before testing Hutton with a fine angled shot from outside the box, with the keeper saving well despite being under pressure from Sammon who was running in.


Two minutes later, the Diamonds keeper gathered another shot from outside the box, this time from Sammon.


Smith was able to find space on 72 minutes and after making ground looked up and got a shot away, but sent his effort just wide of Mutch’s goal.   


With 12 minutes left Falkirk were pressing the home side back but strong defending and timely interceptions added to the visitors’ frustration, especially as the ball ran loose inside the penalty area. Gomis sent the clearance back in but his shot was straight at Hutton who took the ball cleanly.


As Airdrie looked to break on 81 minutes fine play by Dean Hawkshaw sent the team forward but he was taken out by Mark Durnan and the options were reduced for the home side, although the centre-back was booked.


Carrick tried a long range 30-yard effort that substitute keeper Robbie Mutch was down quickly to his right to gather.


Paul McKay had a fine turn on the edge of the box and sent in a snap shot which Mutch plucked out of the air on the 90 minute mark.


A good point and display, and one which showed the defensive concentration levels in the side when required.


The Diamonds can be pleased with their performance ahead of a break from league football next week as Bohemians visit for the Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Cup third round tie.

John O'Brien at the Penny Cars Stadium.

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

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