March 5, 2022

cinch League 1

Alloa Athletic

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Airdrieonians

Callum Smith 21, 84

Callum Smith’s double handed Airdrie the points in a tough encounter against Alloa.

It wasn’t all plain sailing at the Indodrill Stadium as the Wasps, rejuvenated under new boss Brian Rice, made life difficult for the Diamonds, but a committed team performance saw Ian Murray’s men keep up the pressure at the top of the League 1 table.

The Airdrie manager made two changes to the side which drew with Clyde last weekend, Callum Smith and Gabby McGill returning to the starting lineup in place of Jon Afolabi and Scott McGill, while skipper Callum Fordyce led the side out on his 100th appearance for the club.

The visitors started the match brightly, a change of shape allowing extra width in the forward areas, with McGill heading just wide from an early Frizzell cross.

McGill turned provider on three minutes, but Kevin Cawley did well to clear before Calum Gallagher nodded wide from Rhys McCabe’s inswinging ball five minutes later.

Alloa fought back in the 15th minute, and it took a brilliant sliding tackle from Brody Paterson to deny a one-on-one attack before Adam King scooped over from close range shortly after.

Just as the home side looked to be increasing the pressure, Airdrie took the lead through two pieces of magic in the 21st minute.

Dylan Easton lived up to his reputation as a provider of creative assists, spinning away from two men on the touchline before lifting a delicious ball over the top for Smith to chase. With a defender coming across, it looked like the Airdrie striker had been forced wide, but an inch-perfect lob took the ball over keeper PJ Morrison and into the back of the net.

Morrison was relieved to see a Frizzell strike lacking the midfielder’s trademark power eight minutes later, before Fordyce headed wide ten minutes before the break.

Max Currie kept his side in front with an outstanding double save on 38 minutes, first diving from an unsighted position to palm out a shot, then when the loose ball fell to Euan Henderson, springing up to tip the Hearts loanee’s fizzing effort over the bar.

Cawley was again back to deny McGill on the stroke of half-time, and the Diamonds took their one-goal advantage into the break.

With Conor Sammon and Cameron O’Donnell adding physicality to the Wasps frontline in the second half, Airdrie had to weather some early direct play before Smith was denied a second by a fine last-ditch block.

Scott Agnew came close to grabbing his first Airdrie goal on the hour-mark, controlling Gallagher’s flick on before unleashing a shot which rose over the bar.

Frizzell almost got lucky with a 60th-minute cross which came close to finding the top corner, before two more Alloa chances came to nothing.

Recent Alloa signing Morrison made a good save from substitute Scott McGill on 75 minutes before the midfielder fired well over after intercepting a ball out of the home defence.

Morrison was well positioned to deal with Frizzell’s volley with eight minutes remaining, but the goalkeeper could do nothing two minutes later when Smith managed to get a shot away in a crowded box, the strike spinning off a defender and bouncing beyond Morrison’s despairing dive.

The Airdrie forward almost claimed a hat-trick with his last involvement of the match, but again Morrison produced a top save.

The on-loan Motherwell keeper wasn’t done yet, and he stood firm to beat away Jon Afolabi’s shot after the Diamonds sub had sprung the offside trap and raced toward goal from the halfway line.

With Airdrie’s late second enough to take the wind out of the hosts’ sails, the points were secured on a special day for the two Callums, Fordyce and Smith.

Stuart Mathie at The Indodrill Stadium.

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