August 14, 2021

cinch League 1

Airdrieonians

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1-2

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Gabby McGill 50

Falkirk

Callumn Morrison 28
Aidan Keena 30

Despite dominating possession, Airdrie were unable to turn round a quickfire first-half double which handed Falkirk all three points at the Penny Cars Stadium.

Scott Walker replaced the suspended Sam Wardrop in the only change to the Diamonds line-up which had drawn at Dumbarton a week earlier, with former Diamond Leon McCann starting in defence for the visitors.

Lining up with the same attacking 4-3-3 formation, Airdrie took the game to Falkirk in the early stages, Adam Frizzell seeing his early cross blocked behind before Callumn Morrison showed the Bairns counter-attacking threat at the other end, Walker defending well against the former Hearts winger.

Airdrie continued to press with a couple of nice moves ended by overhit final passes as Rico Quitongo and Gabby McGill got into good wide positions.

Midway through the first half, former Diamonds loanee Steven Hetherington was booked for a pull on Dylan Easton, and it was a caution which would prove costly for the Falkirk captain.

Easton once again impressed with his quick feet and direct approach, linking well with McGill and Calum Gallagher on 26 minutes only to see his shot deflected behind.

Gallagher looked to have a golden opportunity to open the scoring a minute later, but Callum Smith’s return ball was just too high for the striker to direct his header on target.

The Bairns broke upfield and opened the scoring with a touch of luck as a shot came in from the left. It looked to be a routine save for Currie, but a deflection from the legs of Diamonds captain Callum Fordyce forced the goalkeeper to readjust, and he could only palm the ball into the path of Morrison who slotted home with ease.

Reeling from an opener which had come against the run of play, Airdrie conceded a second three minutes later. Robbie Mutch punched out a Diamonds corner allowing the visitors to break quickly, and a good pass from Aidan Nesbitt fed Aidan Keena who turned inside and curled a well-executed lob over Currie and into the net.

For all their pressure, Ian Murray’s side had failed to test Mutch, and that continued due to some solid last-gasp defending around the 35-minute mark when three efforts were well blocked in quick succession.

Smith got on the end of a pinpoint Gallagher cross with five minutes of the half remaining, but the forward didn’t connect cleanly and his headed effort flew across goal.

As the half-time whistle approached a superb turn took Easton away from Hetherington, who lunged at the midfielder and was instantly shown a second yellow card.

Down to ten men with 45 minutes to play, Falkirk could well have added to their lead in first-half stoppage time as a defensive error freed Nesbitt, but Currie saved well from the former Morton striker.

Airdrie started the second half with an assault on the Bairns goal, and it took a fine diving save from Mutch to tip Adam Frizzell’s volley round the post on 47 minutes.

Three minutes later the Diamonds did find the net, and it was Gabby McGill on the scoresheet again as he controlled Frizzell’s pass, showed good strength to hold off a challenge and fired home with aplomb.

Rhys McCabe came close to an equaliser on 54 minutes, sending a thunderous strike just wide from 25 yards.

Falkirk changed their shape to stem the tide, introducing Huddersfield loanee Ernaldo Krasniqi who offered an imposing midfield presence.

Mutch was dealing well with Airdrie’s crosses, confidently fielding a Quitongo centre on 63 minutes before claiming a looping Gallagher header two minutes later.

Easton continued to drive forward well and was unlucky to see his shot deflected behind after a dazzling 66th-minute run.

Falkirk sub Samuel Ompreon should have added a third for the visitors as Airdrie chased the game, but was unable to steer a header on target with his first touch.

McGill, who had been on the receiving end of a couple of rough challenges, was replaced by Scott Agnew with 13 minutes remaining.

Jordan Allan also came on to replace Gallagher, and looked certain to grab the equaliser on 80 minutes, slipping at the vital moment and allowing the danger to be cleared.

Mutch dealt with a Smith effort a minute later before launching an attack with saw Morrison fire over the bar.

Smith had another chance with five minutes to play, but was off-balance as he shot after creating good space, and his effort cleared the Falkirk goal.

Stoppage time saw a Frizzell shot charged down and the visitors were able to see out the match and take all three points.

Stuart Mathie at Penny Cars Stadium.

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