July 24, 2021
Premier Sports Cup Group F
Queen of the South
Ally Roy 23, 35, 58
Ruben Soares-Junior 55
Gabby McGill 90+1
Gabby McGill’s first Airdrie goal was a rare highlight for the Diamonds as a second Premier Sports Cup win over higher-league opposition proved a step too far.
A win would have seen Ian Murray’s side through to the knockout stages of the cup for the first time since its change in format, and many Diamonds fans believed it possible after the spectacular midweek derby win over Motherwell.
Queen of the South had different ideas though, and the day belonged to ex-Diamond Ally Roy who bagged a hat-trick against the club he left just two months ago.
Roy joined former Airdrie reserves defender Scott Dunn in the Doonhamers’ starting line-up, with Paul McKay on the bench for Allan Johnston’s men. Airdrie, wearing their new Umbro home kit in the Dumfries sunshine, made one change from Wednesday’s starting XI, new boy Scott McGill replacing Rhys McCabe who missed out through illness.
As had been the case in midweek, the Diamonds started brightly and created a gilt-edged opportunity inside the opening few minutes, Scott Agnew flighting a free-kick onto the head of Josh Kerr, who headed straight at Queens keeper Josh Rae.
Salim Kouider-Aïssa showed typical determination to rob a home defender of the ball inside the box a minute later, but his cutback was intercepted and cleared.
Rae was at full stretch to pluck a Sam Wardrop cross out of the air on six minutes, with Calum Gallagher lurking at the back post.
A minute later Roy showed the first signs of the threat he would pose, but on this occasion Kerr got a good challenge in and Rico Quitongo mopped up the loose ball.
Max Currie’s first touch came courtesy of a 14th-minute Callum Fordyce block on a shot by former Sunderland striker Lee Connelly. Queens captain Willie Gibson fired straight at the keeper two minutes later.
Veteran Gibson unleashed a powerful strike midway through the first half, but Kerr was able to get his body in front of the effort.
The home side took the lead from the resultant corner, Roy firing home a poacher’s finish from the corner of the six-yard box.
Airdrie hit back through Quitongo, who strode forward and crossed for Kouider-Aïssa, but the frontman was stretching and couldn’t get his volley on target.
The impressive Calvin McGrory span into space before firing well over on 29 minutes, before Kouider-Aïssa headed straight into the arms of Rae.
Ten minutes before the break Roy added a second for Queens, glancing a header across Currie’s goal and in at the far post.
Gallagher and Connelly both fired wide in first-half stoppage time, and the Doonhamers took a two-goal lead into the interval.
Having weathered early Diamonds pressure, the hosts were looking comfortable and showed no sign of letting up in the second half, McGrory forcing Kerr into a strong block two minutes after the restart.
Ruben Soares-Junior got in on the scoring action on 55 minutes, controlling well and evading a challenge in the box before evading Currie’s dive to smash the ball home.
With the Diamonds still reeling from conceding the third, Roy grabbed his hat-trick on 58 minutes, gratefully accepting a rebound from the crossbar after Connelly had attempted an audacious chipped finish.
As both sides began to tire in the sunshine, the scoring action appeared to be over, Kouider-Aïssa pulling a shot wide on 65 minutes before Currie saved well to deny Ruari Paton at close range.
Airdrie made changes up front with Jordan Allan and Gabby McGill joining the fray, and the former went close with his first effort, firing just wide at the far post.
Fellow substitute Dean Ritchie had a go on 71 minutes, but the midfielder also missed the target.
Queens sub Niyah Joseph should have done better with a 77th-minute header before Dom McMahon shot well wide six minutes later.
There was time for a consolation for Airdrie, Matty McDonald showing good determination in stoppage-time before picking out a perfect pass to Gabby McGill, who took a touch to pull the ball away from his marker before rifling home a fine finish to open his Diamonds account.
It was the last action of the match, and Airdrie failed to progress to the knockout stage, although this season’s competition will live long in the memory for a wonderful derby result.
Stuart Mathie at Palmerston Park.
Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.