Sunday December 20, 2020

SPFL League One

Falkirk

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Airdrieonians

Kyle Connell 82

Kyle Connell was the Airdrie hero as the Diamonds secured a late win at The Falkirk Stadium for the second successive season.

The match was switched to a Sunday midday kick-off due to floodlight issues at Westfield, and Airdrie boss Ian Murray had to endure further disruption when defender Leon McCann pulled up during the warm-up, forcing a late change to the starting XI.

A defensive reshuffle saw Kyle MacDonald move to the left, with Paul McKay playing at right full-back and Dean Ritchie coming into the midfield.

The home side began the match with the attacking intent that has seen them top the League One table after eight matches unbeaten, with an early free-kick striking the defensive wall before striker Anton Dowds headed wide.

Griffin Sabatini showed some great skill on 12 minutes to evade a couple of challenges before sliding a pass to Calum Gallagher, but the striker was crowded out on the touchline.

Charlie Telfer was next to threaten for the home side, but his connection with a 17th-minute cross was poor and Currie gathered the ball easily.

Currie was well placed again two minutes later when Conor Sammon showed a good turn of pace to get down the line and whip in a cross which was deflected into the waiting arms of the Airdrie goalkeeper.

MacDonald did well to block a Sammon strike midway through the first half, but the ball broke kindly for the Irish international who could only watch as Callum Fordyce raced across to block his second attempt.

Thomas Robert got a sight of goal after 25 minutes, firing an angled strike into the side netting.

A minute later Dowds was perhaps fortunate to escape with a booking after an off-the-ball kick at Kyle Connell, but referee Alan Newlands decided a caution was sufficient.

Paul Dixon fired high and wide with ten minutes of the half remaining before Dale Carrick replaced Calum Gallagher in another enforced change for the Diamonds.

Robert saw an ambitious long-range effort deflected wide as half-time approached, and the whistle brought a tight first 45 to an end.

Straight from kick-off Airdrie broke forward and got a promising free-kick, but the Falkirk wall stood up to Robert’s shot.

As the Bairns sought to extend their winning run they found Currie equal to anything they could offer upfront, the Diamonds goalie collecting another deflected strike on 55 minutes.

Josh Kerr went close three minutes later, rising to meet a Robert free-kick and sending a powerful header narrowly over the bar.

Airdrie were finding good space in the wide areas, and Carrick cut in from the left on 62 minutes only to see his drive palmed away by the diving Robbie Mutch.

Mutch denied Carrick again five minutes later, getting down to intercept a low ball across goal.

Falkirk player-manager Lee Miller came on upfront, and did well to get a long ball on 73 minutes, but the veteran striker was stretching and couldn’t keep his header on target.

Both sides had half-hearted penalty appeals in the last fifteen minutes, but the referee rightly waved play on on both occasions.

With eight minutes remaining, Kerr powered a header towards goal which Mutch did well to parry, but Kyle Connell was on hand to show his predatory instincts and tuck the loose ball away at close range.

Substitute Craig Thomson saw a late cross deflected behind after a surging run down the right, and Kyle MacDonald was alert to clear at the other end as the hosts threw numbers forward in search of an equaliser.

The final chance fell to Ben Hall, who was off-balance as he blazed over the bar following a Falkirk corner, and in the end Connell’s strike was enough to secure a great win for the Diamonds.

Stuart Mathie at The Falkirk Stadium

Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.