Airdrie United 1 - 1 Dunfermline AthleticAuthor: Alistair Campbell Date: Saturday, 4th Apr 2009
In the end a share of the points was about right, although having had much the better of the second half Airdrie will be upset to have chucked a couple of points away at the end. The Pars had played reasonably well in the first half with nothing to show for it, but only started to show some real rgency after going behind to Darren Smith’s fine free-kick.
The Pars were seeking their third win in three visits to the Excelsior Stadium this season, although they had ridden their luck, needing 5 of their best goals of the season in the previous outings. Scott Wilson had failed to recover from his injured knee and Mole and Muirhead had also disappeared without trace from Tuesday’s squad, so Bell and Shields returned to the starting line up in what looked like morphic 4-5-1/ 4-3-3 formation - Gallacher in goals, Woods, Thomson, Shields and McCann across the back, Phinn, Glass and Burke in the middle, Bell, right, Graham left and Bayne in the middle up front. On the bench Ross and Willis joined Paterson, Kirk and Rory Loy who returned from under-21 international duties as the Pars squad looked a little threadbare.
Playing in their all yellow change strip the Pars started the better, with Woods particularly prominent, but this was not to last. Inside a minute Woods managed to get to the byeline but his cross found no takers, and in six minutes the Pars switched play quickly from right to left, with Bell getting on the end of a McCann cross, but his header flew harmlessly over the bar.
At the other end Gallacher made a fine stop from Di Giacomo after the Airdrie striker had held off Nipper Thomson , with Woods getting the Pars first shot on target in 10 minutes after a trade-mark cut inside and left foot strike - however Stephen Robertson saved comfortably.
A criticism often levelled at certain players is that they disappear from the game - Stephen Glass literally did so for 7 minutes after a dangerous tackle from Kevin McDonald left him limping heavily up the tunnel with Dr Bobby in close attendance - presumably to get stitches in his ankle. Referee Charlie Richmond was quick to stamp his authority flashing a yellow at the offending player. During Glass’s absence Alex Burke had the rare opportunity to take responsibility for a free-kick after Bell had tumbled 25 yards out from the Airdrie goal on the right, but the wall did its job.
No sooner had Glass returned than the Pars had the ball in the net. A clearance from Gallacher was won by Bell, he found Bayne who fed the overlapping Woods. Calum’s cross was there to be won, and although Bell did so, his header squirming out of Robertson’s grasp and over the line, he appeared to have climbed all over McKenna and Richmond rightly chalked off the effort.
Ten minutes later Bell had a legitimate chance, having robbed Willie McLachlan and advanced on goal, but blasted his shot high and wide from the angle when he should really have done better. However, this prompted a better spell from the Pars: Phinn and Bayne combined but Graham couldn’t bundle the ball home at the near post; Graham got half a yard of space but was felled in Thomson territory in 39 minutes, but again Nipper couldn’t get the free-kick over the wall, and three minutes later Bell had the ball with back to goal 8 yards out but seemed to stop, either surprised that he wasn’t flagged off-side, or that Burke had attempted a shot with his right foot that had presented the opportunity.
Baird attempted a head-flick that went past the post to remind us that Airdrie weren’t out of things before in the 44th minute Glass found himself in space 35 yards out, and let fly, a fantastic shot arrowing towards the top left corner before Robertson got a palm to it at the last moment to pull off an equally impressive save.
Half-time Diamonds 0 Pars 0
The Pars had enjoyed the better of the first half but it was Airdrie who looked much the better side in the second. The biggest test for Robertson in the early period was dealing with a firm and high pass-back, but the keeper showed no little skill in coming out of his area, nodding the ball past Bayne, taking a touch past Phinn before clearing from mid-way inside his own half. At the other end Scott McLaughlin’s spin and shot from the edge of the box was easily dealt with by Gallacher, before the keeper made a fine stop low to his left when Baird was allowed a free header from a McLachlan cross.