Airdrieonians v Annan Athletic
Report by David Hastie
Annan were 60 seconds away from a shock win against full-time Airdrieonians at the Penny Cars Stadium, however, will be happy with a 1-1 draw and penalties win for the extra point. It was a hot and sticky afternoon in the central belt, conducive to slower build up play.
In a first half more befitting of a preseason friendly, it was the hosts who looked to strike the first blow, with Rico Quitongo looking particularly good down the left wing. It was a play from the left that led to the first real chance of the game, with Calum Gallagher firing high and wide over the bar on seven minutes.
The Black and Golds attacked up the other end barely a minute later, with debutant Charlie Birch linking up with Aidan Smith, but the latter’s touch was poor and rolled through to the Airdrie keeper.
The game was played openly and both teams were well matched, with a splattering of corners for both teams coming to nothing.
It took until the 37th minute for either keeper to be called upon to make a save and it was Ryan Adamson in the Annan goal that was forced to pull off a smart save from Gallagher, who found space at a tight angle after some nice play from the Diamonds.
Half Time Airdrieonians 0 – 0 Annan Athletic
The Galabankies came out for the second half with the bit between their teeth and looked to attack from the off. Moxon broke down the right–hand side on 51 minutes, playing the ball to Aidan Smith on the edge of the box. Smith played the ball out wide to Charlie Barnes; who was also making his debut for the away side; and his cross was pinpoint to Dominic Docherty, whose headed effort was saved well by Max Currie.
Docherty had another attempt just 4 minutes later, was a beautifully lofted pass from Smith fell right at his feet, but he sliced it on the volley, sending it flying over the bar.
The Diamonds were getting frustrated at their lack of productivity up front, with multiple corners all leading to nothing, with Adamson not having a save to make.
The visitors pressure paid off on 66 minutes. Aidan Smith, who had been causing the Airdrie defence problems with his pace and quick feet, managed to cut inside the box from the left-hand side before being brought down, forcing the referee to point to the spot. Tony Wallace stepped up and rifled it down the middle as the keeper dived left, giving the Galabankies a deserved lead.
And they could have doubled their lead just 5 minutes later; Smith linking up with Docherty, who played a wonderful ball over the defence to the head of sub Iain Anderson, but his attempted cleared the bar.
Annan went into game management mode, with the ball going to corner and the play slowing right down, frustrating the hosts as they searched for an equaliser. Airdrie debutant Salim Kouider-Aissa, released from Livingston on Thursday to sign for the Diamonds, had their best chance, but his free header from a corner sailed harmlessly wide.
The League Two side looked to have secured all three points and caused an upset, however in the last-minute Airdrie found themselves level. A floated ball into the box was claimed for by Ryan Adamson, however he failed to collect the ball, which fell to first half sub Matthew McDonald, who fired home to take the game to penalties.
It was the hosts who stepped up first, with captain firing Fordyce firing home confidently, however Aidan Smith brought it level with a superbly cool finish. Scott Agnew, Iain Anderson, Kouider-Aissa and Charlie Birch also converted their penalties, but Calum Gallagher had his effort saved wonderfully by Ryan Adamson in the Annan goal. Rhys McCabe showed calm and nerve to convert to keep his team in it but strikes from Owen Moxon and Tony Wallace secured the extra point and a winning start for the Galabankies.
Full Time Airdrieonians 1-1 Annan Athletic (Annan Athletic win 4-5 on penalties)