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December 26, 2021

cinch League 1





Callum Smith 2
Calum Gallagher 7
Kerr McInroy 61

Alloa Athletic

Euan Henderson 64


Airdrie pulled three Christmas crackers to secure a superb Boxing Day win over Alloa, although the margin of victory could have been greater but for the width of the goalframe.

Calum Gallagher replaced the injured Gabby McGill in the only line-up change from last weekend’s abandoned match against Clyde.

Each side had already registered a 2-1 home victory in this season’s meetings and another tight encounter looked to be on the cards, but the Diamonds stung the Wasps with an early double.

With only 67 seconds on the clock Callum Smith opened the scoring. Scott Agnew won possession in the middle, allowing Adam Frizzell to play in Kerr McInroy. The midfielder looked up and slipped a slide-rule pass through to Smith who had timed his run perfectly to knock the ball past Hutton.

Barely giving the visitors a chance to regroup, the Diamonds doubled their lead after seven minutes.

An inch-perfect ball out of defence found Calum Gallagher peeling off the defender, and a nice touch with the left foot took the striker wide of the onrushing Hutton. Although the goal was gaping, it took an excellent finish from a tight angle to slide home a superb second.

With an early two-goal cushion, Ian Murray’s side began to show the dominant possession play which has been the hallmark of this season’s best performances, the midfield four of Agnew, McInroy, Frizzell and Dylan Easton knocking the ball about well.

Skipper Callum Fordyce could have added to the lead on 15 minutes, but his header from an Agnew free-kick was deflected behind.

Euan Henderson sent a powerful effort over the bar a minute late as Alloa rallied, but it took a good save from Hutton to deny McInroy on 28 minutes, the ex-Airdrie keeper diving at the feet of the Celtic loanee.

Easton curled an effort just wide two minutes later with Cammy O’Donnell and then Henderson both having off-target strikes before the half-time break.

Barry Ferguson changed the shape and personnel of his side during the interval, Fernandy Mendy and Conor Sammon joining the fray as the Wasps attempted to get back into the match.

Hutton saved well from Gallagher two minutes after the restart, although the touch from Mendy on the loose ball was judged not to have been a deliberate passback as the goalkeeper gathered.

Sammon sent a low ball across the face of goal a minute later, but nobody in a hooped shirt could get close enough to apply the finishing touch.

The visitors did have the ball on the net on 50 minutes, but Mark Durnan was in an offside position as he nodded home a Daniel Church free-kick.

As Airdrie began to dominate the attacking possession again, Easton looked keen to get in on the act, firing over from range on 52 minutes.

A minute later, Smith sent a spinning effort whistled just over the bar.

After a routine Currie save from a Sammon header, the Diamonds increased their lead in some style.

Reacting quickly to a free-kick award, Frizzell found Smith who in turn fed Scott McGill on the left. Cutting inside, the Hearts youngster laid off McInroy who took a touch before unleashing an unstoppable 25-yard effort which flew into the top corner.

The three-goal margin only lasted a couple of minutes as Alloa pulled one back through top scorer Henderson as Church’s free-kick was headed across goal for the striker to turn home at the back post.

Rhys McCabe had the chance to restore the advantage two minutes later after a lovely one-two between Frizzell and Easton saw the latter tripped in the box. McCabe got plenty of power on his spot-kick, but it was inches too high and cannoned back off the crossbar.

Fordyce headed narrowly wide again with 20 minutes remaining, with Currie clutching a Henderson shot at the other end.

Gallagher went close to repeating his angled finish on 74 minutes, but a deflection took another good effort past the post.

The resultant corner found its way to Easton on the edge of the box, and after the midfielder’s initial shot was blocked he chested down the rebound and fired a fine left-footed effort against the base of the post.

Easton was clearly in the mood, and his dancing feet allowed him to set up Smith on 78 minutes, but the striker fired over under pressure from the Wasps defence.

McCabe broke out of defence with five minutes remaining, feeding substitute Jordan Allan who teed Easton up for another strike against the woodwork.

Sammon and Henderson both had chances in the final minutes with the former landing his header on the roof of the net and Currie palming the latter’s effort onto the post before clearing to safety.

The final whistle capped a fine performance by the Diamonds, and sent the reduced-capacity crowd home full of festive cheer.

Stuart Mathie at Penny Cars Stadium.

Photos © Robert Dalzell. Click to view full-size.

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