September 3, 2021

SPFL Trust Trophy round 2

Airdrieonians

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1-1

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Callum Smith 49

Queen's Park

Grant Gillespie 86 pen

A late equaliser sent Airdrie and Queen’s Park to a penalty shoot-out for the second time this season - and this time it was the Spiders who came out on top to progress to the third round of the SPFL Trust Trophy.

Returning to action after seeing fixtures and training devastated by injury and illness, it was clear that the effects were still being felt among the Airdrie squad with manager Ian Murray only able to name four substitutes.

With goalkeeper Max Currie among those missing, it meant a senior debut for summer signing Jay Cantley, who had celebrated his 19th birthday a day earlier.

Laurie Ellis named two former Diamonds loanees, Lee Kilday and Bob McHugh, in his starting line-up, with another on the bench in Willie Muir.

The opening period showed how eager the home side were to get back to playing football, with some high-tempo passing play creating early chances.

An early attack down the left led to a Diamonds throw, which Rhys McCabe sent spinning into the box and onto the head of captain Callum Fordyce. The skipper planted his header beyond Queens goalie Callum Ferrie, but was somewhat harshly adjudged to have pushed his marker.

Rico Quitongo combined well with Adam Frizzell, with the latter supplying some excellent crosses in the early stages. His fifth-minute centre was well defended by the visitors, with another two minutes later falling for Dylan Easton who saw his shot blocked behind.

Easton was clearly in the mood, cheekily nutmegging his man on nine minutes before another good block denied the midfielder his first Airdrie goal.

Jordan Allan did well to get up to a diagonal pass two minutes later, but his twisting header bounced off the defender’s back and into Ferrie’s arms.

Queen’s Park showed that they too could move the ball quickly on 13 minutes, but Liverpool loanee Luis Longstaff headed well wide.

Ferrie was alert to race out of his box and clear two minutes later with Gabby McGill bearing down on the keeper to no avail.

The English striker was claiming for a penalty just before the half-hour mark as he flicked the ball past the last defender before going to ground, but referee Grant Irvine waved play on.

The remainder of the first half was largely played in the middle third as Queens began to enjoy more possession, but they did little to threaten Cantley in the Airdrie goal.

The visitors started the second 45 brightly, but it was the Diamonds who took the lead four minutes after the restart.

Accepting a pass from McGill on the left, Easton skipped passed Liam Brown before squaring to Allan, who slid the ball into the path of Smith.

Facing up his man, the Diamonds forward steading himself before sending a measured finish across Ferrie and into the far corner of the net.

Queens had a golden opportunity to equalise just two minutes later, Brown’s free-kick nodded on to McHugh two yards from goal, but Cantley’s reflexes were excellent as the keeper stuck out a strong left hand to block.

Airdrie’s forwards continued to link well, with Allan and Easton exchanging passes with 61 minutes played, but Kilday showed his experience to shepherd the play away from the danger area.

With 20 minutes remaining, the depth of both matchday squads came into play with the visitors able to introduce quality and experience from the bench while Ian Murray’s men were visibly tiring.

Scott Agnew and Scott Walker were introduced for the Diamonds, with Laurie Ellis making five changes, and it was three of the substitutes who played a part in the Spiders’ 86th-minute equaliser.

A ball into the box was miscontrolled by Walker who swung a boot to clear as Queens’ sub Louis Longridge closed in. The former Hamilton man went over Walker’s outstretched leg and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Fellow substitute Grant Gillespie stepped up to smash home the penalty and level the tie.

With no time for further chances, the final whistle signalled a penalty shoot-out at the Petersburn end.

McCabe, Agnew and McGill scored for the Diamonds with Brown and Longridge replying for the visitors before Tommy Robson saw his kick brilliantly saved by Cantley.

Watson and Gillespie both put their penalties away, leaving Easton the chance to secure victory, but Ferrie dived to his left to save.

Murray scored before Frizzell also saw his penalty saved, and Queen’s Park captain Michael Doyle calmly put away his spot-kick to secure the Spiders’ passage to the third round.

The sides meet again on league duty at Firhill next Saturday, and despite a tenacious performance, the Diamonds will be hopeful of bringing back some reinforcements.

Stuart Mathie at Penny Cars Stadium.

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