Wednesday November 11, 2020
Betfred Cup Group H
Blair Henderson 5
An early goal for Edinburgh City brought Airdrie’s Betfred Cup ambitions to an end, with the Diamonds unable to turn their dominance into goals.
Both sides paid their respects ahead of the Remembrance Day kick off, with the Last Post ringing out around the Penny Cars Stadium.
Eoghan Stokes replaced the injured Calum Gallagher for the Diamonds, with Harlain Mbayo replacing Sean Crighton in the centre of defence. Callum Fordyce took the captain’s armband for the night.
The match started in frantic fashion with Josh Kerr keen to make an early impression with a 20-yard strike after gathering Edinburgh keeper Calum Antell’s punched clearance, but his effort went over the bar.
The visitors took the lead after only five minutes, a corner from the right breaking to Sam Newman at the far post. The striker’s cross took a nick off an Airdrie defender and landed at the feet of Blair Henderson, who reacted well to prod home.
Midfielder Josh Campbell, who previously spent time on loan with the Diamonds, fired well over six minutes later before a pacy attack involving Leon McCann and Stokes resulted in a series of corners for Airdrie, with the visitors eventually able to clear the danger.
Top scorer Dale Carrick had his first real sight of goal on 21 minutes, but his shot was deflected straight to Antell.
Carrick and Thomas Robert continued the promising link-up play they had shown in the weekend’s 5-0 victory over Clyde, but the final ball was frustratingly lacking too many times.
With half an hour played Airdrie were denied a strong penalty claim as Carrick and Stokes played a one-two which set the Irish forward bearing down on goal. As he shaped to shoot, an arm on the shoulder knocked him off balance, but referee Kevin Graham waved play on.
The Diamonds continued to press City back, but it was clear that Saturday’s goal glut was unlikely to be repeated, with McCann’s cross just out of Robert’s reach before Kerr fired wide from range.
Robert and Sabatini both had efforts before the half-time whistle, but neither troubled Antell.
The visitors should have doubled their lead five minutes after the restart at Mbayo’s backpass fell straight to Campbell, but the midfielder fired over as David Hutton rushed out to narrow the angle.
Carrick and Cunningham were involved in a scrap which spilled into the home dugout, leading to yellow cards for both.
Minutes later Liam Henderson was lucky to escape with a booking after a nasty challenge on Robert.
Sam Newman had a go for City just before the 60-minute mark, but the final half hour saw chance after chance fall to the hosts.
Antell saved twice from Robert before a Kerr volley flew over the bar, with an acrobatic attempt from Robert going the same way shortly after.
Carrick and substitute Craig Thomson also shot too high as the Diamonds pushed forward, and the pair combined on 78 minutes as Thomson swung in a wonderful cross with Carrick heading for goal only to be denied by a fingertip save from Antell. From the resultant corner, Fordyce’s looping header clipped the crossbar.
Not to be outdone, Hutton produced a spectacular save at the other end as Edinburgh City broke in numbers.
A frantic final minute saw a Thomson cross palmed over by Antell before Crighton’s header from the corner kick was blocked on the line. Antell saved again from Mbayo’s headed effort in the final action of the match.
The final whistle meant that Airdrie are now unable to progress from the Betfred group stage, but the Diamonds have a meeting with Premiership side Livingston to look forward to before the league action resumes a week on Saturday.
Stuart Mathie at Penny Cars Stadium.
Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.