Betfred League Cup, Group Stage
Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie
Saturday 27th July 2019, 3pm
Airdrieonians 2 HamiltonAcademical 3
Accies website reporter Mark Gillespie with his take on Saturday’s win on the other side of the county in North Lanarkshire….
In the proverbial game of two halves, Marios Ogkmpoe’s sensational late winner capped a spirited second half comeback to send us through to the second round.
We had our work cut out after a disappointing first half, goals from Callum Smith and Ally Roy having Airdrie two up in the first 20 minutes. Two Ross Cunningham penalties hauled a transformed Accies level in the second half. The big Greek striker had the final say with his sublime lob from the corner of the box with two minutes left.
Accies are through as one of the four best runners up, mission accomplished for Brian Rice. But the boss had mixed feelings about the 90 minutes he had just witnessed.
“Great credit to the lads for going out in the second half, not giving up and getting the result. We’ve qualified which is what I asked for at the start of the season”
“But that first half is as poor as I’ve seen since I’ve been at the club. I’m not a shouter or a bawler. At half time I just said to the players they’d let themselves and the fans down. I asked for another 50% from everybody. I wanted us to play like the end of last season and get the ball forward quicker.”
“In the second half I felt it was coming. Fair play to young Ross, showing the courage to take the two penalties. Our average age out there was 23, but it has to be a lot better than that.”
“Marios is still young, learning the game and adapting to Scottish football. I kept him on today because he was causing them problems. His goal was a magical strike.”
Darian MacKinnon returned to skipper the side on his 250th appearance. There were two other changes to the side from last weekend, ReeganMimnaugh making his first start of the season. Shaun Want started in defence, with Easton and Hughes both out injured, and Gogic on the bench.
Airdrieonians made two switches to their side from the midweek draw then penalty shoot out win over Queen’s Park. Captain Sean Crighton returned, with Calum Gallagher replacing Hawkshaw and Thomson in Ian Murray’s line up.
A draw was of no use to either side and Airdrie made all the early running against a flat looking Accies. Two early openings fell to James Cowan but he wasn’t able to work Fon Williams. But they were in front on ten minutes, as Crighton taking advantage of Aaron McGowan’s slip to square for Smith to tap home his first Airdrie goal from point blank range.
We had been slow out of the blocks, but Cunningham looked keen to continue his scoring exploits from last week. He had our first sight of goal on 16 minutes, set up by Smith and Mimnaugh, but Hutton stood up to parry the effort.
A couple of efforts from Blair Alston were comfortable for the ex Accies keeper. And we fell two behind courtesy of a set piece at the other end on 23 minutes. Cowan’s free kick rebounded off the Accies ball and Ally Roy thrashed low past Fon Williams from the edge of the box.
Whatever was said in the half time dressing room made an impact. Accies secured a lifeline just two minutes after the restart with McGowan fouled inside box by Eckersley. Cunningham stepped up to send Hutton the wrong way.
After that we grew in confidence, streaming forward and pegging Airdrie back. Cunningham had his fourth of the campaign on 59 minutes, his corner kick striking the arm of Gallagher in the box and Gavin Duncan pointing straight to the spot. Hutton got a hand to Cunningham’s spot kick but couldn’t keep it out.
A rapid turnaround was almost complete a few minutes later as Accies carried all the momentum. Scott McMann was getting forward into attacking areas, setting up Ogkmpoe at point blank range. Somehow the striker blasted off and over the bar first time with the goal gaping.
But we were well on top as the space opened up. Cunningham came close to his hat trick on 76 minutes, finding space on the left angle of the box to curl for the top corner, just clipping the bar.
Only a win would do for either side in a much more entertaining second 45. It was a goal fit to win any game, Ogkmpoe taking down a through ball just inside the right corner of the penalty area to instinctively launch high into Hutton’s top corner, in off the bar.
Airdrie: Hutton, Fordyce, Kerr, Crighton, Eckersley, Wedderburn, Cowan (Roberts, 55), Smith, Gallagher (Thomson, 79), Millar, Roy; Subs Unused: McNeill, O’Reilly, Carrick, Hawkshaw, Russell
Goals: Smith, 10, Roy, 23
Cautions: Cowan, 21, Gallagher, 59
Accies: Fon William, McGowan, McMann, McKenna, Alston, Cunningham (Fjortoft 89), MacKinnon (c), Want, L Smith (Oakley 76) Mimnaugh (Gogic 90+2), Ogkmpoe; Subs Unused: Gourlay, Hunt, Winter, Reilly,
Goals:Cunningham 47 pen, 58 pen, Ogkmpoe, 88
Cautions: Mackinnon, 29, McGowan, 52, Cunningham, 84
Referee: Gavin Duncan Assistants: Daniel McFarlane and Kylie Cockburn
Attendance 814 (314 Accies)