September 25, 2021
cinch League 1
Morgyn Neill 89
The Diamonds suffered late heartbreak in Cove after Ian Murray’s depleted squad looked to have earned a point on the road.
Ian Murray didn’t have his troubles to seek before the match, with late call-offs from captain Callum Fordyce and midfielder Dean Ritchie adding to an already lengthy list of absentees.
Rico Quitongo returned to the starting line-up with a number of positional shuffles from the side which beat East Fife 3-0 last weekend.
Former Diamonds Leighton McIntosh and Kyle Gourlay were among the substitutes for Cove Rangers.
A scrappy opening period set the scene for the game with both defences coming out on top, though Calum Gallagher came close to nipping in on goal after ten minutes.
Four minutes later a dangerous free-kick was dealt with by the makeshift Airdrie defence, and Adam Frizzell nodded wide at the other end as Scott Agnew’s free-kick was headed across the face of goal.
Dylan Easton carried the ball half the length of the park before firing wide on 17 minutes, and the midfielder was dumped to the ground by Iain Vigurs two minutes later, earning a booking for the former Inverness midfielder.
Salim Kouider-Aïssa headed another Agnew setpiece just wide of goal as the Diamonds began to enjoy a promising spell midway through the first half.
Gallagher was well positioned for Scott McGill’s 24th-minute cross, but Cove keeper Stuart McKenzie was out to claim.
In a match which was disrupted by niggly fouls, Ian Murray felt aggrieved when the home side got away with a blatant kick at Easton ten minutes before the break, the Airdrie boss receiving a yellow card for his protests.
Morgyn Neill was then booked for a sliding challenge as the bookings mounted up in a match which was never dirty.
With half-time approaching, Josh Kerr volleyed over as the ball broke to him on the edge of the box, and the half-time whistle signalled the end of a first period devoid of any real quality.
Cove’s front pairing of Mitch Megginson and Rory McAllister combined well after the restart, forcing Craig Watson into an important interception.
Frizzell got a powerful effort away on 56 minutes, but it was well blocked by the home defence.
Megginson finally got the better of the Diamonds defence a minute later, twisting into the box before sending in a close-range strike which Max Currie did well to save at the near post. From the corner, defender Harry Milne saw his header come back off the crossbar.
Airdrie’s attacks were being well marshalled by the Cove defence, with a Kouider-Aïssa shot blocked and cleared on 67 minutes before Megginson headed wide at the other end.
Another Megginson effort on 73 minutes was deflected wide, with the hosts striking the woodwork again from the corner as a looping Morgyn Neill header bounced on top of the bar.
A clever chipped square ball from Easton was scrambled clear as the game entered the final ten minutes, and the hosts took the lead in simple fashion with a minute to play.
Defender Shay Logan broke down the right and sent over a fine cross for Neill to head home from close range at the back.
Although Cove had struck woodwork twice, there was little between the sides in a game affected by the windy conditions and constantly disrupted by the referee’s whistle, so the Diamonds will feel aggrieved making the long journey home with nothing to show for their efforts.
A return to the Penny Cars Stadium to face Clyde next weekend rounds off the first quarter of league fixtures, and Ian Murray will be hoping his side return to winning ways and move up the table.
Stuart Mathie at Balmoral Stadium.
Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.