Saturday March 27, 2021

SPFL League One

Airdrieonians

2-4

Jack McKay 2
Ally Roy 72

Partick Thistle

Scott Tiffoney 36, 62
Brian Graham 47
Connor Murray 49

Airdrie were once again reduced to ten men as Partick turned the Diamonds’ early lead around to leave the Penny Cars Stadium with three points.

Skipper Sean Crighton was the man to see red this week at Thistle ran out 4-2 winners in an incident-packed match.

Paul McKay and Euan O’Reilly came into Ian Murray’s starting line-up alongside former Partick midfielder Paul Paton who made his debut after joining on loan from East Kilbride.

Dean Ritchie, Kyle Connell and the suspended Kyle Turner were the players to make way.

Winger Joe Cardle was among the familiar faces in the visitors squad led by one-time Diamonds boss Ian McCall.

Airdrie started on the front foot with Thomas Robert’s harrying setting up a chance for Calum Gallagher within 30 seconds, but the striker’s shot was blocked.

Jack McKay made no mistake from the resultant setpiece, brother Paul’s long throw coming off a Thistle head before being flicked on by Callum Fordyce and volleyed home with aplomb by the Chesterfield loanee.

It was a second Diamonds goal for Jack, coming just over four years after his first - although perhaps more unlikely this time round with McKay playing in the full-back position.

The visitors were unfortunate not to level on nine minutes as Cardle’s free-kick flicked the head of Calum Gallagher and looped toward goal, but the ball struck the base of the post and rebounded to safety.

A moment of controversy followed two minutes later as O’Reilly capitalised on some midfield hesitancy to drive for goal. Bursting into the box, the Airdrie winger went down under the challenge of Thistle skipper Darren Brownlie, but referee Craig Napier saw no foul and booked O’Reilly for simulation. Brownlie and Jack McKay were booked for their part in the scuffle which followed.

O’Reilly was set haring towards goal again a minute later, but his attempt to control Gallagher’s pass saw the ball squirm away from him and Kieran Wright gathered.

At the other end Max Currie showed safe hands to field a Connor Murray cross on 14 minutes before Crighton fired a free-kick into the Thistle wall and pulled the rebound wide.

Currie was sharp to race out of his box and clear a through ball on the 20-minute mark as Thistle attempted to play direct balls behind the Diamonds backline in search of the equaliser.

Paton had a go just after the half-hour, but the midfielder’s powerful strike was deflected behind for a corner. As the setpiece broke to Paul McKay, Wright pulled off a magnificent save from the midfielder’s close-range volley. Thistle broke out through Cardle, and his ball over the top was touched on by Scott Tiffoney who slotted past Currie to level the scores.

Brian Graham should have had his side in front seven minutes from the break, heading straight at Currie from Cardle’s pinpoint cross.

Buoyed by their equaliser, Partick skimmed the bar through Stuart Bannigan just before half-time.

All of Airdrie’s efforts were undone in a two-minute spell just after the restart, Graham putting Thistle ahead with a simple headed goal from Richard Foster’s 47th-minute cross before Murray guided home the third from the edge of the box following Crighton’s missed clearance.

Robert’s tidy footwork won the Diamonds a dangerous free-kick on 55 minutes, but the French midfielder fired the dead-ball straight into the defensive wall.

Gallagher’s speculative angled effort was held by Wright two minutes later, but it was Thistle who delivered the killer blow just after the hour mark, Tiffoney peeling away from his marker to head home Ryan Willamson’s cross from the right.

Currie saved well from substitute Zak Rudden before Airdrie sub Ally Roy pulled one back for the Diamonds on 72 minutes. O’Reilly showed good determination under pressure to dig out a square ball to the onrushing Roy, who passed the ball into the net from just inside the box.

Any hope of a dramatic comeback was quashed on 78 minutes when Crighton saw red for a tackle on Mohammed Niang. The Airdrie captain had done well to stride forward with the ball but lost control outside the box, diving in to win the ball back and catching the Thistle defender. Referee Napier was in close attendance and instantly reached for his red card.

The visitors thought they had a fifth in stoppage time, but Graham was in an offside position as he turned home and the referee overruled his assistant to disallow the goal.

The result saw the Diamonds slip to seventh in the table, although there remain only three points between them and third-placed Thistle. Of more immediate concern to Ian Murray will be a selection headache ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Cove, with Crighton joining Turner on the suspensions list and Jack McKay limping out of this disappointing defeat.

Stuart Mathie at Penny Cars Stadium.

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

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