Diamond Watches: Airdrieonians 0-2 Dumbarton
Updated: Jan 8
The Calamity During The Storm; Airdrie Lack Bite And Fight As Dumbarton Defeat Doubles Down on Diamonds
Any hope Airdrie harboured of returning to winning ways was blown away, like sand in the desert, by a thoroughly professional away performance from a Dumbarton side who punished alarming defensive frailty twice without response in a game that was thoroughly dispiriting for the watching Airdrie support.
The home side took to the pitch in a Monster Mash of a strip, the red home shorts and yellow top leaving the Diamonds looking more than a little like the Wee Rovers. It proved a fitting piece of foreshadowing for a 90 minutes that was painful to watch for a multitude of reasons.
Having gotten the game on (credit to all involved for the venue switch), Airdrie fans could be forgiven for wishing the clubs hadn't bothered; despite the intent to attack inherent in the chosen 4-4-2 formation, the hosts looked largely toothless, despite the odd flash of promise here and there.
A few of those flashes came in the opening 20 minutes, including a Sean Crighton shot 13 minutes in that flew over the bar after a flurry of headers in and around the Dumbarton box. With plenty time and space to measure himself, the captain really should have done better and kept that at least on target.
Three minutes later and good forward play from Airdrie, particularly between Thomson and MacDonald, led to a throw in that Kyle Conell took short (for once). The Kilmarnock loanee got it back from Thomson and crossed tremendously to Gallagher, whose header was too central and well saved by Smith. It was good goalkeeping, but he should have been left with no chance.
The game had settled into a pattern, with Dumbarton content to watch Airdrie move it side to side in front of them, achieving little but a healthy share of the possession stats. In an attacking sense, there seemed little of note from the Sons; a freekick on the edge of the box in the 19th minute looked like changing that, but in truth the execution was woeful. It was hit with plenty venom, but ended up rolling out of play at the opposite corner flag.
Some more good passing play by Airdrie lead to Dale Carrick, always able to maintain possession well, getting a shot away on the 20th minute, but it was well blocked. The decent period of pressure that proceeded and followed Carrick's effort ended with the wind scooping up a McCann cross and taking it behind for a goal kick. Having had the bulk of the play and failing to make it count, Airdrie played the inevitable price.
The sucker punch, when it landed, was all the sorer for the familiarity. Once again, a defensive slip up followed a period of attacking play. Once again, the rightly lauded defence of last season were made to look amateur by the simplest of goals. Once again, the defence switched off and scuppered their own offside trap. With the line so high, it was imperative that it was also disciplined. It wasn't, and a well onside Jamie Wilson remained composed to slip it simply past David Hutton. An incompetent goal from a defence that are far, far better than that.
Airdrie lost their way after concession of the goal. The relentless pressing, the harrying and the harassing, that was a hallmark of their best days last season, was notable only by its absence. Dumbarton were not pressed, pushed or harangued into errors. They were not hunted, hassled or chased. The hunger that saw this side finish the curtailed season in third spot after 28 games was nowhere to be seen; for whatever reason, Airdrie's appetite has been lost.
In spite of the lacklustre showing, they should have been level on the half hour mark. An Airdrie freekick led to a Kerr header which was desperately defended at the goalmouth, before eventually breaking to Connell. The youngster lacked composure in the heart of the box, though, and comprehensively fluffed his lines, slashing horribly high.
The most recent recruit was still looking the most likely, though, and five minutes later showed great skill cutting in from out wide, easily beating two Dumbarton men and getting his shot away, only to once again fail to keep it down.
The second half was a bit of a rinse and repeat of the first. Airdrie huffed and puffed, they passed the ball from side to side with no discernible impact, hell, they even managed to get a close range header nice and central for Smith to save again, this time Kyle Connell on the 58th minute after a rare bit of good play. Alas, just like in the first, a simple long pass (this time from former Diamond Nat Wedderburn) saw Jamie Wilson bearing down on the Airdrie goal. This time, Sean Crighton was with him, not that it made much difference; Wilson skint him, twice, as the Airdrie captained tried and failed to jockey the Dumbarton front man. When he did try to shoot, Wilson seemed to miscue quite badly, but that didn't stop it ending up in the net, bouncing off the chasing Leon McCann and leaving the left back with an own goal to his name.
A triple substitution saw Sabatini, Robert and O'Reily take to the field, but they failed to make much of a difference. There was a dangerous cross from Robert that his teammates could not seize upon as it flashed along the face of goal, and right at the death an Airdrie goal was chopped off for a foul in the build up, but in truth a consolation would not have been deserved, nor would it have offered much actual consolation.
Back to back defeats, then, leaves Ian Murray and his squad much to ponder ahead of another home match against Clyde next week. Airdrie started last season with two defeats in the opening four league games, so it's far from the irredeemable disaster some would have you believe. Whether this ends up being a bump in the road or a sign of things to come, though, we shall but see.
Airdrie For The Cup. Whit Cup? Any Cup.