Saturday November 21, 2020

SPFL League One

Forfar Athletic

1-3

Chris Antoniazzi 23

Airdrieonians

Thomas Robert 6
Dale Carrick 21 pen
Kyle Connell 27

A display of attacking flair ensured the Diamonds had the job done by half-time as Airdrie triumphed at Forfar.

Calum Gallagher returned from injury to claim a place in the starting line-up for Ian Murray’s side, with Griffin Sabatini only deemed fit enough for a place on the bench after picking up a knock in training.

Former Diamonds record-breaker Jordan Allan led the line for the Station Park side.

Having suffered Betfred Cup defeats at the hands of Edinburgh City and Livingston, the Diamonds were hoping to recapture the form which saw them smash five past Clyde in their last league outing, and the intent was clear from the off as an attacking 4-4-2 line-up started the match at a high tempo.

Camped in the opposition half from kick-off, it was no surprise when Thomas Robert opened the scoring after only five minutes, and the midfielder’s instinctive finish came at the end of a stunning passing move.

Robert nodded the ball to Kyle Connell, who turned his man and returned the pass. Slick one-touch passes from Robert, Paul McKay and Calum Gallagher unlocked the home defence and left Robert the space to fire home a sweetly struck finish from just inside the box.

Three minutes later Connell attempted to add a spectacular second, controlling McKay’s knockdown and shooting from 30 yards, but Marc McCallum watched the strike fly over his bar.

Dale Carrick had a shot blocked before McCallum had to pull off a fine diving save to keep out Josh Kerr’s curling strike, but minutes later the Diamonds had the ideal chance to double their lead from the penalty spot.

As McKay tussled with Gary Irvine to control Connell’s pass into the box, the ball bounced up and struck the veteran defender’s hand, leaving referee namesake Grant no choice but to point to the spot.

Up stepped Carrick to fire home his third penalty kick of the season, McCallum guessing correctly and diving to his right but unable to keep out the powerful effort from the Diamonds top scorer.

The Loons rallied quickly and pulled a goal back within two minutes, converting their first meaningful chance of the match. Dundee United loanee Florent Hoti picked up a throw from the left and did well to jink into the box before sending a close-range strike crashing off the underside of the bar. The bounce took the loose ball over Leon McCann’s head, and Chris Antoniazzi was perfectly placed to steer his header beyond Max Currie.

Airdrie wasted no time in restoring their two-goal advantage, with Kyle Connell adding another strike of real quality to notch his second for the club.

McKay won the ball well in midfield allowing Robert to advance down the left, drawing the home defence out of position. The Frenchman’s square pass found Connell who controlled and teed himself up to pass the ball into the net from 20 yards.

The striker could have added another a minute later as Carrick’s cross found him unmarked at the far post, but his angled header was wayward.

Antoniazzi had another chance for the home side just before the break, but Currie saved with his legs as the former Aberdeen man cut in from the left to shoot.

Stuart Malcolm’s men changed their shape after the break, and found more joy in the middle of the park but were unable to get through the Diamonds defence.

Reduced to long-range efforts, the Loons found Currie equal to two such strikes within the first five minutes of the half.

A number of substitutions broke up the flow of the play, and further chances fell at either end to no avail.

Connell robbed Irvine on 65 minutes, but a fine sliding challenge stopped the striker from adding to his tally, and Airdrie sub Sabatini was denied by McCallum after a driving run from Kyle MacDonald.

Not to be outdone, Currie saved well from Allan’s curling effort at the other end.

McCallum pulled off another two top saves as Airdrie pressed, blocking McKay’s volley and Kerr’s snapshot.

Home substitute Daniel Scally sent a well-struck free-kick just wide of the target with ten minutes remaining before Murray MacKintosh pulled a header wide in stoppage time.

The last chance fell to the Diamonds, Connell teeing up Craig Thomson who snatched at his shot and fired over the bar.

With their good work done in the first half, Airdrie will be satisfied with a fine away performance ahead of next week’s showdown with league leaders Cove Rangers.

Stuart Mathie at Station Park.

Photos © Stuart Mathie. Click to view full-size.

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