March 19, 2022
cinch League 1
Callum Smith 38
Dylan Easton 45+1
Airdrie ensured that they will at least be in the cinch Championship play-off as two goals of real quality handed the Diamonds a 2-0 win over Queen’s Park.
Ian Murray made one change to his starting line-up with Craig Watson only declared fit for a place on the bench after picking up a thigh strain. Scott Walker was his replacement at right-back.
The visitors included former Airdrie loanee Bob McHugh, with midfielder Connor Smith lining up against brother Callum.
The Spiders were without director of football Marijn Beuker, who was serving a touchline ban, but started the match brightly in the Monklands sunshine, McHugh showing great control in the box before the home defence got back to clear.
The Diamonds wall stood strong to deflect Smith’s free-kick behind after five minutes, but it was Airdrie who broke well three minutes later, Adam Frizzell feeding Gabby McGill on the right before the striker overhit his cross.
Callum Smith was clearly in the mood to continue his recent goalscoring spree, forcing a fantastic save from Callum Ferrie with a sweetly struck ninth-minute volley.
Scott Agnew fired wide two minutes later as the home side began to dominate possession.
Ferrie was alert again on 19 minutes, parrying a Calum Gallagher drive with Peter Grant hooking the loose ball over his own bar.
McGill nodded wide midway through the first half before Dylan Easton had his first sight of goal, but Ferrie was equal to his curling strike.
Easton fired over as he broke through the defence again on 34 minutes, with Paterson blocking a Louis Longridge effort at the other end a minute later.
With 38 minutes gone Airdrie opened the scoring, and it was no surprise to see Callum Smith putting the ball in the net.
Shrugging off a pull on the corner of the box, the striker bustled across the edge of the 18-yard box and swept a fantastic finish past Ferrie to take his March total to five goals in three games.
Callum Fordyce and Rhys McCabe were as comfortable as ever at the back, and McCabe brought a smile to the home support’s faces three minutes before the break, lining up a clearance and stepping over the ball to allow it to drift behind.
Luca Connell found space in the Diamonds box on 44 minutes, but the midfielder’s effort cleared the bar.
In first half stoppage time some neat passing on the right allowed Frizzell to pick out Easton on the left of the box. Killing the pass with a fine first touch, the talismanic midfielder unleashed a fierce drive into the top corner, giving Ferrie no chance.
Queen’s Park rang the changes at half-time with four substitutions, and while the Spiders were neat and tidy in possession after the break, they did little to threaten Max Currie’s goal.
The Diamonds keeper confidently fielded an early cross before Brody Paterson showed his attacking skills against his former club, first seeing a 50th-minute cross well defended after some fancy footwork on the left, then combining with Smith to tee up McGill who couldn’t twist his body enough to get a shot away.
McGill fed Easton on the hour-mark, and the midfielder was inches away from doubling his tally with a curling effort which flew wide of the post.
Currie made a routine save from Connor Smith on 66 minutes, but the keeper had to pull something special out of the bag to palm away a powerful 79th-minute strike, Frizzell doing well to clear when Luis Longstaff looked certain to poke home.
Connell fired over again with four minutes remaining before Airdrie sub Jon Afolabi almost added a fine solo goal, bearing down on goal and beating a defender before sending a wicked effort just over the bar.
Currie claimed a late free-kick, and the match ended with the damage done in the first half.
Fourteen unbeaten for the Diamonds, whose fine form ensures that the gap to table-toppers Cove Rangers remains at five points ahead of the two meeting in a mouthwatering Excelsior Stadium showdown next weekend.
Stuart Mathie at Excelsior Stadium.
Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.