September 18, 2021

cinch League 1

Airdrieonians

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3-0

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Calum Gallagher 4, 80
Scott McGill 59

East Fife

Calum Gallagher took his week’s tally to three and Scott McGill scored a wonder goal as a patient performance saw Airdrie ease to victory over East Fife.

There were three changes to the starting line-up which had beaten Alloa at the Penny Cars Stadium on Tuesday evening, with Rico Quitongo, Rhys McCabe and Gabby McGill making way for Josh Kerr, Callum Smith and Salim Kouider-Aïssa.

For the third consecutive match, Airdrie faced a former Diamonds goalkeeper as summer signing Scott Gallacher lined up between the sticks for Darren Young’s side. While ex-Airdrie loanee Dan Higgins started in defence behind another familiar face, Kieran Millar.

It took only four minutes for the Diamonds to open the scoring, a defence splitting pass from Kouider-Aïssa sending Smith through on goal. His angled shot was brilliantly parried by Gallacher, but defender Scott Mercer fluffed his chance to clear and Gallagher raced in to prod home.

The Fifers pressed down the flanks in search of a quick equaliser, but the returning Kerr was alert to hook clear a seventh-minute cross.

Smith had a golden opportunity to double Airdrie’s advantage after 11 minutes as he controlled a square ball from Adam Frizzell six yards out, but the striker was leaning back as he shot and dug his effort over the bar.

Scott McGill was filling in at left-back and blocked a shot from Danny Denholm’s corner two minutes later, before Gallagher also saw an effort clear the bar.

Craig Watson was again getting forward and his flying volley was unwittingly blocked by a defender on 17 minutes.

Dylan Easton showed his close control a minute later, taking two defenders out of play before his cross was nodded out with Gallagher waiting to pounce.

A glancing header worked Currie after 21 minutes, but the Airdrie keeper’s handling was sound.

The Diamonds were knocking the ball about comfortably waiting for the right opportunity, and a ball over the top freed Frizzell on 24 minutes, but his attempted lob was high and wide.

Just before the half-hour mark the visitors were reduced to ten men when Higgins miscontrolled a pass and flew into a challenge on Kouider-Aïssa. The referee deemed the tackle reckless and produced a straight red card for the former Airdrie man.

With both sides adjusting to the disparity in numbers, there was little further action in the first half.

East Fife had the first chance of the second period when a Mercer corner was nodded wide from close range, but the Diamonds began to impose themselves on the game with Dylan Easton firing over on 50 minutes.

Some desperate defending prevented Gallagher getting a shot away a minute later after some fancy footwork from Frizzell.

Gallagher, having opened his account and doubled his tally in the space of four days, was in the mood to add more and was denied by Gallacher who saved well on 53 minutes before tipping a Fordyce header over the bar three minutes later.

A second goal was coming for the home side, and it arrived in spectacular fashion on 59 minutes. Advancing forward, the ball was returned to Scott McGill on the touchline and after turning onto his right foot the Hearts loanee swung a deep curling ball over Gallacher and into the back of the net.

As the visitors made changes in an effort to find a way back into the match, it was Airdrie who looked most likely to increase their lead, Frizzell and Gallagher both seeing efforts go narrowly over the bar.

Easton’s 73rd minute cross slammed off two players in the six yard box before being hacked behind, and Frizzell saw another powerful effort deflected behind a minute later.

Callum Smith saw two curling efforts from the edge of the box saved in quick succession, but the Diamonds were not to be denied and it was that man Gallagher who grabbed his second of the match with ten minutes remaining.

Just as he had on Tuesday, Watson swung in a superb cross for Airdrie’s number 9, who controlled well before steering home with the outside of his foot.

Within a minute the goal opened up for Gallagher again as a shot was deflected into his path, but the Fife defence were alert and the ball was scrambled clear.

A late rally from the visitors was well marshalled by former East Fife player Scott Agnew, and substitute Sean Brown’s stoppage time effort was easily gathered by Currie.

The win makes it five matches without defeat for the Diamonds, who travel to Cove Rangers next weekend looking to continue their good form.

Stuart Mathie at Penny Cars Stadium.

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