April 23, 2022

cinch League 1

Clyde

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0-5

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Airdrieonians

Rhys McCabe 36 pen
Callum Smith 55
Calum Gallagher 63
Kyle MacDonald 71
Jon Afolabi 86

Airdrie equalled the club’s unbeaten league record with a 5-0 rout of Clyde, but it wasn’t enough to stop Cove Rangers clinching the League 1 title.

With a five-point gap at the top and two games remaining, a win would secure automatic promotion for Paul Hartley’s side, but the Diamonds went goal crazy with a blistering second-half performance in the Bully Wee’s final match at Broadwood Stadium.

Having had a spell in Cumbernauld as tenants, it was fitting that Airdrie would be Clyde’s final opposition at the ground which has been their home for 28 years. There was, however, no room for sentiment as the Diamonds made it 19 league games unbeaten to match a title-winning run in 2003-04 which carried over to the first game of 04/05.

There were three changes for Ian Murray’s side after last weekend’s dramatic win over Dumbarton, with Scott McGill missing through illness, Adam Frizzell suspended and Scott Walker dropping to the bench. Jordan Allan, Justin Devenny and Kyle MacDonald were the replacements.

Clyde were first to get a sight of goal, Morgaro Gomis firing in a shot from distance which Max Currie gathered comfortably.

Justin Devenny, in his first start since joining on loan from Kilmarnock, saw an eighth-minute effort fly just wide of the target before Currie was called into action again, saving at the feet of Lewis Jamieson.

Kyle MacDonald was getting forward well on his return from injury, and his cross was just too high for Callum Smith on 18 minutes.

Smith did connect with a Rhys McCabe cross six minutes later, but his angled header was off-target.

The game came to life on the half-hour mark with the Diamonds denied a strong penalty shout as Jordan Allan was pulled back as he raced onto the ball with only Neil Parry to beat, but referee Barry Cook waved play on.

Parry reacted quickly to smother a Calum Gallagher touch before the striker could get a shot away three minutes later, but the Diamonds were awarded a spot-kick on 35 minutes as Easton was taken out on the six-yard line.

Rhys McCabe stepped up to wrongfoot Parry and stroke the ball home.

Clyde almost reacted immediately with recent signing Monday Samuel getting on the end of a sweeping counter-attack, but the Nigerian midfielder fired straight at Currie.

McCabe had the chance to double his setpiece tally just before half-time, but Parry got across goal to palm the midfielder’s free-kick over the bar.

The Diamonds turned on the style after the break, although they did well to stand up to some rough tackling from the Clyde midfield, Kevin Nicoll receiving a yellow card four minutes after the restart.

MacDonald forced a smart block from Parry on 53 minutes, breaking down the right and cutting the ball back for the waiting Gallagher, only for the former Airdrie keeper to get a strong hand to the ball.

Airdrie weren’t to be denied much longer, and a powerful run from Allan on 55 minutes saw a neat pass to Smith in the box. The striker turned his marker and stepped onto the ball to steer a lovely finish into the corner of the net.

Danny Lennon began to make changes to his line-up, but the robust challenges continued with Samuel and Ally Love both booked for swipes at Smith in the middle of the park.

The Diamonds killed the game off on 62 minutes, with Allan again providing the assist. The frontman showed some good skill in the box to create space for a pass to Gallagher, and although Parry came flying out to block, the ball span up for the Diamonds’ top scorer to slot home.

Although Clyde were 3-0 down, they were still creating chances and Brody Paterson had to defend well to end a 66th-minute attack, nodding the ball away from danger at the back post before winning back possession and playing a fine ball down the flank.

Tade headed over two minutes later before Ian Murray made his first change, with defender Scott Walker replacing striker Gallagher. The switch allowed MacDonald to move into a more advanced position, and paid off immediately.

Dylan Easton danced into the box from the left, and though he was clearly fouled the referee allowed play to continue, with the midfielder squaring the ball for MacDonald to slam home from the edge of the box.

Parry denied Allan on 72 minutes before Currie provided heroics at the other end, blocking Love's shot with his feet after Samuel had jinked through the visiting defence.

There were further changes for the Diamonds with Jay Cantley, Dean Ritchie, and Matty McDonald replacing Currie, McCabe and Easton.

Tade missed the target with another header on 82 minutes before Diamonds sub Jon Afolabi accepted a pass from MacDonald and showed great composure to size up his options before firing a fantastic strike into the top corner.

Josh Kerr headed a Jamieson effort clear in the final minute, and the final whistle went to give the Diamonds their best win of the season as they equalled a 17-year-old record.

Cove Rangers’ win against Dumbarton means the title goes to Balmoral Park, but there’s still plenty to play for as Airdrie welcome Peterhead to the Excelsior next weekend, with the record able to be beaten and momentum continued ahead of another dramatic set of play-off fixtures.

Stuart Mathie at Broadwood Stadium.

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