Tuesday October 13, 2020
Betfred Cup Group H
Paul McKay 47
Craig Thomson 87
Second half strikes from Paul McKay and Craig Thomson got Airdrie up and running with a Betfred Cup win at Stenhousemuir.
Ochilview has rarely been a happy hunting ground for the Diamonds in recent seasons, and Ian Murray knew his side would be in for another tough test against a Warriors side who could call on experienced campaigners such as Jonathan Tiffoney, Callum Tapping and Greig Spence.
The Airdrie boss made a number of changes to the side which had lost the opener against Alloa, with Calum Gallagher, Thomas Robert, Dean Ritchie and Euan O’Reilly coming into the starting line-up.
Max Currie was called into action early on as a cross from the Stenny left bent toward goal, but the Diamonds keeper did well to palm away under pressure.
Airdrie were getting forward well, and early chances fell to Sean Crighton and Josh Kerr before Spence wasted a decent opportunity for the hosts.
Kerr was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet with a curling effort after 18 minutes which keeper Callum Erskine dived to push out, then a last ditch challenge prevented Gallagher getting a shot away after jinking past three defenders.
Robert saw an effort go high and wide as Airdrie began to dominate, but Davie Iron’s side looked dangerous on the counter and Leon McCann was forced into a goal-line block following a 36th-minute corner.
Kerr threatened again as half-time approached, the midfielder’s angled strike catching a defender and rolling agonisingly wide with Erskine beaten.
The Diamonds’ attacking intent continued into the second half, and it took only a minute and a half for Paul McKay to open the scoring.
Robert was beaten to Kyle MacDonald’s cross by Erskine, with Gallagher striking the loose ball against the prone goalkeeper. McKay was first to react, taking a touch and poking home from close range to give the visitors the lead.
The chance of a quick equaliser fell to Stenhousemuir midfielder Callum Yeats, but Currie was on hand to beat away the shot.
Robert and Gallagher went close to finding a second for Airdrie before a number of substitutions from either side broke up the flow of the match.
Stenny sub Botti Biabi fired straight at Currie within minutes of coming on before Kerr got another sight of goal, sending a glancing header just wide of the target.
Former Hearts midfielder Tapping was just too long with a clever pass to Mark McGuigan before having a go himself and sending a powerful strike inches over the Airdrie bar.
Diamonds sub Craig Thomson’s pace was causing problems down the right, but the winger was in a more central position with three minutes remaining, controlling the ball as it dropped 20 yards from goal and firing a superb half-volley beyond Erskine to make it 2-0.
Biabi should have pulled one back in the last minute, but the striker was off-balance as he shot and sent his effort over the bar.
With Livingston and Edinburgh City to come in November, the win brings Airdrie a welcome three points in Betfred Cup Group H, and will provide a lift as the Diamonds welcome Peterhead to the Penny Cars Stadium for Saturday’s League One curtain-raiser.
Stuart Mathie at Ochilview Park.
Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.