April 2, 2022
cinch League 1
Calum Gallagher 41, 72
Calum Gallagher’s double got Airdrie back to winning ways against East Fife.
With Cove Rangers not playing until Sunday, the Diamonds had a chance to close the gap before Paul Hartley’s side faced a tricky away tie against Queen's Park.
Manager Ian Murray was forced into a couple of changes with Rhys McCabe and Craig Watson missing through illness. Josh Kerr and Scott McGill were their replacements in the starting XI, while the Fifers included former Diamonds Kieran Millar and Kyle Connell.
A quiet opening spell was almost ended in some style when the ball broke to Calum Gallagher 40 yards from goal. The striker strode forward and sent a fine effort over goalkeeper Jude Smith, but was unfortunate to watch it also clear the bar.
Gabby McGill showed great feet on the right wing before working the ball to Dylan Easton on nine minutes, the midfielder sending in a trademark curling effort which went wide of the target.
Smith was out sharply to save at the feet of McGill seven minutes later, with East Fife breaking forward and picking out Ryan Blair who sent his header over the bar.
There was controversy in the 19th minute as a high ball was launched towards McGill on the edge of the box. Smith clattered through the striker getting nowhere near the ball, but referee Colin Steven waved play on.
The home goalkeeper was beginning to see a lot of the ball, gathering a low effort from Diamonds namesake Callum on 23 minutes.
Max Currie had similar work to do at the other end two minutes later as Connell fired straight at his former team-mate.
Gallagher then got on the end of Brody Paterson’s cross, sending a curling effort past the post.
Easton came even closer for the Diamonds just before the half-hour mark, lining up a free-kick on the edge of the box and rattling the crossbar with a powerful effort.
As Airdrie turned up the pressure, captain Callum Fordyce got a good header on a 30th-minute corner, but was denied by a defender on the line.
Blair headed over again on 33 minutes after an incisive passing move had taken the home side up the park.
Within a minute Gallagher saw a volley deflected wide before Callum Smith was denied by an excellent save after finding space at the back post.
The home keeper produced another top save from the resultant corner, and pushed away a Gabby McGill strike as half-time approached.
Calum Gallagher has a knack of scoring against the Fifers, and there was no surprise when the Airdrie striker broke the deadlock on 41 minutes. Adam Frizzell burst forward from midfield and played in Smith, whose square pass gave his strike partner the simplest of tap-ins.
There was time for Smith to save well from Gallagher before half-time, and the Diamonds went in a goal to the good.
Airdrie started the second half as they had finished the first, Scott McGill going close with a strike from outside the box before Frizzell shot over the bar after some more dazzling footwork.
Easton was denied by a fine tackle on 53 minutes before East Fife began to make inroads towards the Diamonds goal, Connell again shooting straight at Currie after 57 minutes.
The home crowd thought their side had equalised on 63 minutes, but the slightest of deflections took a decent effort wide of the post.
Smith held Easton’s dipping strike four minutes later, with Scott Mercer then guilty of some poor finishing at the other end.
With 72 minutes played, Airdrie doubled their lead and it was that man Gallagher again with another close-range finish. As with the opener, a fine thrusting run from Frizzell sparked the move, and again the lively midfielder teed up Callum Smith. This time the League 1 Player of the Month opted to shoot, and Jude Smith could only touch the ball into the path of Gallagher who was once again in the right place at the right time.
After some disruption to play due to both sides making changes, Gallagher was desperately unlucky not to bag his hat-trick, pulling down a Josh Kerr cross but slipping just as he was about to pull the trigger.
Diamonds substitute Jon Afolabi went close in stoppage time, his curling effort headed behind after a mazy run into the box.
The final whistle signalled four wins out of four against the Fifers, with nine goals scored and none conceded, as the Diamonds move to within two points of the top of the table and hope for a favourable result in Maryhill tomorrow.
Stuart Mathie at Locality Hub Bayview Stadium
Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.