July 17, 2021
Premier Sports Cup Group F
Airdrie and Queen’s Park played out an entertaining goalless draw at Firhill, with the Diamonds taking the bonus point after a sudden-death penalty shoot-out.
It was a warm and sunny day at the temporary home of the League 2 champions who named two former Diamonds, Willie Muir and Bob McHugh in their squad. Dylan Easton had joined Adam Frizzell on Airdrie’s injury list, with Josh Kerr again starting on the bench following a pre-season knock. Matthew McDonald and Salim Kouider-Aïssa came into the starting line-up with Rhys McCabe also named among the substitutes.
The Diamonds almost got off to a perfect start when a through ball from midfield sent Kouider-Aïssa through on goal, but the former Spiders striker watched his first-minute strike go agonisingly wide.
Queen’s Park retaliated through Calum Biggar, who saw his eighth-minute effort held by Max Currie.
Currie was in action again four minutes later, palming out a long-range effort which fell kindly for Simon Murray, but the striker hesitated and Airdrie’s defence were able to recover.
Luke Lyons made an important sliding challenge to prevent Murray breaking through on 14 minutes, with Currie saving well again from the former Dundee United man’s 17th-minute header.
Former Diamonds keeper Muir performed some heroics of his own when Kouider-Aïssa sent in a downward header a minute later, getting down quickly to save well.
Calum Gallagher started to become the focal point of the Airdrie attack midway through the first half, first firing wide from distance then smashing home a great finish only to be denied by a marginal offside decision.
Lewis Moore looked set to go one-on-one with Currie just before the half hour mark, but Craig Watson marshalled the midfielder well and intercepted just inside the box.
Murray was Queen’s Park’s main threat, and Currie had to be at his best to deny the forward again five minutes later.
Moore had another chance to bear down on goal seven minutes before the break, but this time it was Rico Quitongo who defended well and cleared the danger.
A strong spell followed for the Diamonds but Muir was in fine form, saving well twice from Callum Fordyce either side of a Jordan Allan effort which was deflected behind for a corner.
Muir denied Allan again on the stroke of half-time and the sides went in level at the break.
The goalkeepers continued to grab the headlines after the interval, Currie reacting well to keep out Liam Brown’s 48th-minute effort.
Gallagher had a free header for Airdrie on 57 minutes, but his close range effort from Agnew’s corner flew just wide of the post.
Around the hour mark both keepers dealt with efforts which were fired straight at them, Muir saving from Lyons before Currie held Thomas Robson’s strike.
Murray had further chances, Currie doing well to beat away a powerful swerving shot before saving a well-struck volley from the edge of the box.
With 12 minutes remaining, Kouider-Aïssa broke into the Queen’s Park box and was barged to the ground, with referee Graham Grainger showing no hesitation in awarding the Diamonds a penalty.
Kouider-Aïssa stepped up to take the spot-kick himself, but Muir dived to his left to produce a strong one-handed save, preventing the Diamonds striker from opening the scoring against his former club.
A perfectly-timed slide tackle from Watson stopped Murray from getting a shot away three minutes later, with Fordyce heading the final chance of the match over the bar in the last minute.
With a point apiece for the draw, penalties followed for the bonus point. Fordyce saw his kick saved before Grant Gillespie put the Spiders in front, with Kouider-Aïssa, Robson and Kerr all finding the net.
Currie saved well from Murray to level the score with Watson and McHugh scoring before Agnew saw his kick saved. Liam Brown had the opportunity to win it, but his penalty struck Currie’s right-hand post and sent the shoot-out into sudden death.
Calum Gallagher scored his kick with aplomb before Currie made himself the hero, saving from Biggar to secure the bonus point for the Diamonds.
A derby tie against Motherwell is next up for Airdrie with Group F still wide open.
Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.