July 21, 2021

Premier Sports Cup Group F

Airdrieonians

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2-0

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Rhys McCabe 66
Scott McGill 79

Motherwell

The Diamonds sparkled in their first derby win over Motherwell in 20 years as Rhys McCabe and Scott McGill produced sensational second-half strikes to hand Airdrie a 2-0 win over their Premier League opponents.

The last time Airdrie registered a win in this fixture was in September 2001 as Owen Coyle and a Keith Lasley own goal brought the bragging rights to Monklands, either side of a David Kelly goal for the Steelmen.

Much has happened in the intervening 20 years, with a reincarnated Airdrie currently plying their trade in League One while Motherwell have enjoyed a long spell in the top flight. The bookmakers had the Fir Park side as heavy favourites for this meeting, but derby matches rarely follow the script.

A busy day at the Penny Cars Stadium saw striker Gabby McGill sign for the club, while midfield namesake Scott checked in on loan from Hearts. With a 2000-strong crowd permitted for the match, the stands were ringing out with songs from both sides before the match kicked off on a sweltering Lanarkshire evening.

Airdrie made two changes to the starting line-up from Saturday’s draw with Queen’s Park, Josh Kerr replacing the injured Luke Lyons while Rhys McCabe returned to the midfield in place of Jordan Allan, who was named among the substitutes alongside both McGills.

Former Diamonds Ricki Lamie and Tony Watt started for Motherwell, as did Scotland Euros hero Stephen O’Donnell.

Airdrie showed that they were up for this one inside the opening minute, McCabe’s long throw headed narrowly over the bar by captain Callum Fordyce.

Well keeper Liam Kelly plucked another McCabe throw out of the air three minutes later as the Diamonds faithful roared their side on.

Motherwell’s first meaningful attack came on 13 minutes, Watt advancing with the ball before cutting it back for Steven Lawless, but Kerr charged down the pass and the danger was cleared.

Calum Gallagher powered down the left flank three minutes later, his low cross falling just behind strike partner Salim Kouider-Aïssa.

A spell of possession followed for the visitors, but Fordyce, Kerr and Craig Watson were strong and well-organised at the back and Graham Alexander’s men failed to turn their dominance into chances.

On 32 minutes Max Currie rushed to the edge of his box to save, his momentum taking him out of the area where he was adjudged to have fouled Dean Cornelius. After a somewhat harsh booking for the Diamonds keeper, Watt skied the free-kick over the bar.

The tide began to turn back in Airdrie’s favour as half-time approached, with McCabe, Scott Agnew and former Well youngster Matthew McDonald creating well from the middle of the park.

As with Motherwell’s spell of control, there were few clear-cut chances for the Diamonds, although Craig Watson was adamant he should have had a penalty on 41 minutes as a Well defender appeared to handle under pressure.

The visitors’ best chance of the first half came a minute before the break, Darragh O’Connor finding space to power a header towards goal, but Currie was down well to save against his former club.

Motherwell started the second half as brightly as Airdrie had the first, Watt sending a shot whistling past the post on 46 minutes before Lawless nodded wide a minute later.

Former Rangers keeper Kelly produced a superb save on 53 minutes with Kerr finding himself in acres of space as McCabe’s throw was worked across the box. There wasn’t much wrong with the defender’s powerful strike, but Kelly dived across to palm the ball behind.

Kaiyne Woolery was looking lively on the left flank, and he cut inside well before forcing Currie to block with his feet just after the hour mark. Loanee Scott McGill made his Diamonds debut four minutes later, replacing Sam Wardrop just a few hours after signing.

As McGill took his position in the midfield, McCabe was lining up a dangerous free-kick on the edge of the Well box, and his 30-yard strike was a thing of beauty as it cleared the wall and flew into the top corner of Kelly’s goal to send the home fans into raptures.

With the visitors reeling, the Diamonds continued to knock the ball about confidently, with Matty McDonald pushing forward well after switching to the right wing-back position. There was time for another Airdrie debut as Gabby McGill replaced the impressive Gallagher.

With 11 minutes left McGill took possession in the box, knocking the ball to McDonald who squared to Scott McGill. After a fine first touch and a second to set himself, the youngster rocketed an unstoppable angled strike into the top corner to put the icing on the cake of a superb Diamonds performance.

Airdrie saw out the remaining minutes with ease, Currie making a straightforward save in stoppage time before Woolery sliced a cross over the bar, but the points - and a historic derby win - were in the bag.

Stuart Mathie at Penny Cars Stadium.

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