Tuesday April 13, 2021
SPFL League One
Hamish Thomson OG 2
Calum Gallagher 82
Kyle Connell 90+4
Grant Anderson 43
Airdrie got off the mark early, but left it late to secure a big three points against Forfar Athletic.
The Diamonds knew a win would take them into top-half contention with the League One split approaching, but Forfar were always going to put up a fight as their scrap for survival becomes a race against the clock.
Following Saturday’s impressive display at Montrose, Ian Murray named the same team and bench.
Former Diamonds midfielder Graeme Holmes started for the managerless Loons, with caretaker boss Gary Irvine lining up in defence.
It took less than two minutes for the home side to take the lead, and following Saturday’s contentious own-goal awards there was no doubt about this one.
Dale Carrick fed Calum Gallagher on the right, and his front post cross was met by Hamish Thomson who could only head into his own net with Ally Roy waiting to pounce.
Buoyed by their early lead, the Diamonds began to stroke the ball around with pace and intensity, and Forfar keeper Mark McCallum had to be alert to save Kyle Turner’s powerful strike from 20 yards after seven minutes.
Roy continued to look confident in front of goal, turning away from his marker to fire in a left-footed effort two minutes later, but the ball came off a Forfar knee and ricocheted to safety.
Carrick and Turner both sent in shots from outside the box, both narrowly missing the target.
Sean Crighton’s aerial prowess was causing problems from Airdrie setpieces as the skipper went close twice in a minute, first seeing a downward header blocked before connecting with the head again and seeing the angled effort come back off the post.
Jack McKay was next to threaten for the Diamonds, forcing a fine point-blank save from McCallum before a visiting defender got back to block as the on-loan Chesterfield man tried to tuck away the rebound.
A rare Forfar attack just after the half-hour saw Max Currie alert to pluck a cross away from the incoming Scott Fenwick, but it was the beginning of a resurgence for the toiling visitors.
Murray Mackintosh did well to take down a 38th-minute cross, spinning in the box and firing in a decent shot which Currie was well placed to field.
Four minutes later the Loons were on level terms, and it was well-travelled winger Grant Anderson who found the net, rising to meet Daniel Scally’s cross from the right and plant a good header beyond Currie.
Airdrie attacked from the off after the break - but found McCallum in top form, the big keeper saving from Turner before producing an outstanding fingertip save to deny Gallagher.
Forfar were keen to make their attacks count, and Callum Fordyce had to race back to cut out a 50th-minute cross before Mackintosh sent an ambitious effort off-target a minute later.
As Airdrie resumed control Gallagher flashed a low cross across the goal which lacked only a finishing touch before Irvine blocked from Roy and McCallum saved another Crighton header.
Craig Thomson replaced Jack McKay on 56 minutes and almost made an immediate impact, skipping past three players on the wing and finding Gallagher with an open goal, but the striker somehow got his connection wrong and sent the ball straight into the waiting arms of McCallum.
Crighton sent another header wide on the hour-mark, with Anderson shooting straight at Currie as the visitors retaliated.
Kyle Connell and Thomas Robert came off the bench as Airdrie searched for different options to break the deadlock, but the next chance fell to Kyle Turner who burst forward as the Diamonds intercepted a Forfar corner. The midfielder was left perplexed as referee Barry Cook awarded a goal-kick when it seemed Turner was tripped on the corner of the box.
Some nice interplay saw Carrick in on goal on 72 minutes, but the frontman’s first touch gave McCallum the opportunity to smother the ball.
Three minutes later good work by Connell saw Robert with time to pick his spot, but the Frenchman hesitated and the home defence recovered to see the ball back to McCallum.
With Forfar’s goalkeeper performing heroics and Airdrie unable to convert some of their easier chances, it began to look like a winning goal may not materialise.
Up stepped Calum Gallagher, dashing to the front post to head home Leon McCann’s pinpoint cross on 83 minutes.
A slightly nervy period followed as the visitors threw everything forward in their search for an equaliser, but it was the Diamonds who added some gloss to the scoreline deep into stoppage time.
Turner took advantage of some slack control in the middle of the park to part the defence with a headed pass to Connell, whose excellent first touch sent him bearing down on McCallum before despatching a cool finish to put the result beyond doubt.
The result lifts Airdrie back up to fourth place with all eyes on next Tuesday’s massive showdown with East Fife.
Stuart Mathie at Penny Cars Stadium.
Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.