October 16, 2021

cinch League 1

Falkirk

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Airdrieonians

Dylan Easton 35
Callum Smith 67
Josh Kerr 81

The Diamonds produced a dazzling team performance to secure a fantastic 3-0 victory at the home of pre-season title favourites Falkirk.

Having been frustrated after playing well but coming away with nothing in the earlier meeting between the sides, Ian Murray’s men worked hard for each other for 90 minutes at The Falkirk Stadium and came away with a fully-merited win to open the second quarter of the league season.

The Airdrie boss was without both full-backs who had played in the 2-1 win over Clyde a fortnight ago, with Scott Walker and Scott McGill replacing Craig Watson and Rico Quitongo while captain Callum Fordyce returned to the heart of the defence.

The opening period of the match was dominated by both midfields, with little goalmouth action at either end, although Dylan Easton showed he was in the mood after two minutes, seeing a shot blocked after Callum Smith had intercepted a clearance.

When the home side retaliated after nine minutes, Walker did well to nullify the danger and win a goal-kick off former Morton forward Aidan Nesbitt.

Calum Gallagher sent a shot well wide on 19 minutes before Falkirk goalkeeper Paddy Martin held an Easton shot two minutes later. The Bairns broke quickly and Max Currie was relieved to see Michael Ruth’s close-range header spin wide of the goal.

McGill went close with a 22nd-minute shot, cutting in from the left and angling his strike across goal, and a minute later Fordyce did well to dispossess Declan McDaid.

Kerr McInroy was again showing a willingness to join the attack from his midfield anchor role, firing over just before the half-hour mark.

With ten minutes of the first half remaining, Easton opened the scoring with his first goal for the Diamonds. Rhys McCabe showed great tenacity to win possession and feed McInroy who drove into the box, feigned a shot and slipped a perfectly weighted pass to Easton who slammed home.

Falkirk hit back quickly, and McInroy had to be alert to block a powerful strike from former Diamond Steven Hetherington.

Walker and Smith were combining well down the right, and a cross from the defender was headed clear with five minutes to play.

Martin showed safe hands to hold on to a Gallagher header just before the break, and the home defence were alert to McInroy’s curling effort which was nodded behind.

With Airdrie shooting towards a vocal visiting support in the second half, there were plenty of protests when referee Steven Reid failed to award a free-kick on the edge of the box as Smith almost had his shirt removed shortly after the restart.

Falkirk continued to look dangerous when they got the ball into wide areas, and a 49th-minute cross from the left was only cleared as far as Charlie Telfer, who connected well but saw his effort blocked.

Gallagher had a golden opportunity to double the Airdrie lead on 59 minutes, Adam Frizzell’s angled strike blocked into the path of the striker who was denied by the legs of Martin.

Currie got down to hold an Aidan Keena effort after 64 minutes before Martin grasped Gallagher’s curling strike two minutes later.

Airdrie weren’t to be denied much longer though, and it was another fine attempt from Gallagher which led to the goal as Martin got his fingertips to the frontman’s headed effort from Frizzell’s chipped cross. Callum Smith was first to the loose ball and had the presence of mind to lift the ball over the Falkirk keeper, who could only help it into the net as the Diamonds celebrated in front of their fans.

Substitute Samuel Ompreon had a chance to pull one back with 12 minutes remaining, but missed from very close range, just as he had done in the previous meeting at the Penny Cars Stadium.

Falkirk’s inability to take their chances was punished three minutes later as Easton fired across a corner kick from the left. As Fordyce was being wrestled to the ground in the centre of the box, Josh Kerr came flying in at the back post to send a powerful header into the opposite corner.

Airdrie sub Gabby McGill almost made it four with three minutes to play. On his return from injury, the striker accepted a Frizzell pass and drove for goal, beating a defender before fizzing a shot inches wide of the post.

It was the last action of the match for the Diamonds, who had to be content with a 3-0 scoreline and another move up the table.

Stuart Mathie at The Falkirk Stadium

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