November 13, 2021
cinch League 1
Calum Gallagher 35
Calum Gallagher was Airdrie's goalscorer as a 1-0 win at East Fife kept the Diamonds top of cinch League 1.
Rico Quitongo returned to the back four in the only change from the side which beat Peterhead last weekend, Scott Walker the man to make way.
On an unseasonably sunny - and unusually calm - day at Bayview, Airdrie started the match in impressive fashion, knocking the ball about at a high tempo as they looked to take the game to bottom-of-the-table East Fife.
An early breakthrough almost came through Kerr McInroy who controlled a 4th-minute pass across the box and fired in an effort which took a nick and cannoned off the top of the bar.
Hot on the heels of his first Diamonds goal last week, McInroy looked in the mood to add to his tally as he saw another effort blocked three minutes later.
Scott Agnew was next to have a go against his old team, but his 8th-minute free kick was headed behind to safety.
Gallagher shot wide a minute later as Airdrie’s early press continued to cause problems for the hosts.
East Fife keeper Jude Smith made the first of many important saves on 11 minutes, confidently fielding a teasing Quitongo cross as Gallagher waited to pounce.
Dylan Easton saw the goalkeeper gather his long-range strike three minutes later, before firing over the bar shortly after.
Callum Smith almost celebrated his 22nd birthday with a goal on 23 minutes, but his namesake made a fine from the striker’s powerful header.
Former Diamond Liam Watt found a good position on the half-hour mark, but after controlling well the midfielder fell as he got his shot away, and the weak effort was easy for Max Currie.
An instinctive finish from Gallagher was just too high a minute later, but the striker made no mistake with his next opportunity as a clinical passing move culminated in a wonderful touch and turn by Easton, who threaded a killer ball through for Gallagher to bear down on goal and hammer the ball home via Smith’s near post.
Smith saw another headed effort deflected back to the keeper eight minutes before half-time, but a minute later Pat Slattery had a golden opportunity to equalise for the home side, controlling a cross from the right and screwing a low shot wide of the target.
Adam Frizzell was once again doing a power of work between midfield and attack, and was denied by Smith in the last action of the first half.
With Darren Young’s side adopting a more attacking attitude after the break, it was time for Airdrie’s backline to show their quality.
Former Diamonds Kyle Connell and Ryan Wallace were proving a handful, but Callum Fordyce and Rhys McCabe marshalled the pair well, with Quitongo and Craig Watson always eager to break down the flanks.
On the hour mark another former Diamond, Kieran Millar, clashed with McInroy as the pair contested a high ball. The Airdrie man was unable to continue after receiving treatment for a facial wound, and Millar was booked.
Currie had to be alert to a wicked Connell effort four minutes later, but the Diamonds goalkeeper parried well.
Substitute Scott McGill was combining well with Smith, and Gallagher almost benefitted on 68 minutes but lifted his shot over the bar.
Wallace and Connell both went close a minute later, and as play raged from end to end, Gallagher saw his lob beat Smith before a defender raced back to clear.
With 11 minutes remaining Easton span away from Millar, who clipped the midfielder’s heels and was shown a second yellow card followed by the obligatory red.
The deficit in numbers didn’t affect East Fife’s resolve as they chased an equaliser, and Quitongo raced across to block a goalbound effort two minutes later.
With Airdrie looking to take advantage of their extra man, Smith saw his dipping header drop agonisingly over the bar as the clock ticked down.
McGill was supporting the attack well, and saw an 84th-minute shot saved by Smith before Currie got down to save from Fifers sub Jamie Semple at the other end.
A spectacular pirouette in the box took McGill clear with two minutes to play, but again Smith got a hand up to block the close range effort.
The keeper saved well again from Callum Smith in the final minute before a stoppage time Easton free-kick cleared the bar and Currie gathered a late header in the last action of the match.
With Cove Rangers winning at Peterhead, the Diamonds remain a point clear at the top of the table with a mouthwatering tie between the sides looming next weekend.
Stuart Mathie at Locality Hub Bayview Stadium
Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.