By Ben McNicol
Edinburgh City all but ended Airdrie’s hopes of a League Cup showdown at Livingston on Saturday with a tremendous performance at the Penny Cars Stadium.
Blair Henderson’s fifth minute strike proved the difference between the two sides as the capital side ended their League Cup campaign with a 1-0 win at the final time of asking.
The Citizens started off on the front foot and the opening goal didn’t take long to arrive as James McDonaugh’s side broke the deadlock after just five minutes. Sam Newman’s cross from the left fell right into the path of Henderson, who made no mistake from close-range.
Airdrie, who ran out comprehensive 5-0 winners against Clyde on Saturday, were wasteful going forward and were struggling to break down a well organised City defence.
However, Ian Murray’s side managed to eventually get a foothold in the game towards the end of the first half and they will feel that they were considerably unlucky to have not to been awarded what looked a stonewall penalty when Eoghan Stokes was brought down by Lee Hamilton as he raced through on goal.
The Diamonds spurned their best opportunity of the game minutes before half time as Dale Carrick’s cut-back found Thomas Robert on the penalty spot, but he could only lash his effort over the bar.
Edinburgh City should’ve undoubtedly doubled their advantage when Harlain Mbayo’s horrible back-pass sent former Airdrie loanee Josh Campbell through one-one-one, however, he lost all of his composure as he bore down on goal and his effort ended up going into the stands behind the goal.
Up the other end, it wasn’t looking like it was going to be Robert’s night as the winger had two strikes at goal well saved by Calum Antell in quick succession. It was all Airdrie in the final quarter of an hour, Griffin Sabatini next to have an effort from range, but once again Antell was level to it as he made a brilliant fingertip save over the bar.
Credit has to go to the Citizens who put in a remarkable defensive performance. Even striker Henderson was involved in some heroic defending at the other side of the pitch in the dying embers as he managed to clear Sean Crichton’s header off the line. Here are three things we learned.
Henderson’s strike wins it
Henderson was once linked with Dundee United after scoring a remarkable 30 goals in 35 games for the Citizens, and despite not reaching those heights since, there is every chance that the 26-year-old will reach 15/20 goals this season.
He’s a clinical scorer who knows where the back of the net is and his goal showed that. The way he expertly steered the ball beyond David Hutton looked like a striker who’s oozing confidence at the moment, and should he continue to score, there’s every chance the Citizens will push for at least the play-offs this season.
Diamonds didn’t sparkle in front of goal
Airdrie couldn’t have come into Wednesday’s game in any better form having just demolished Clyde 5-0 a few days ago. However, they clearly weren’t wearing their shooting boots, as they were wasteful in front of goal and couldn’t make their dominance count.
62% possession, 17 shots (seven on target) is more than enough to at least score one, but they were taught a harsh lesson by a team in the division below, who defended resolutely and scored with their only memorable shot on target.
Back to league business for both
The win for Edinburgh City has near enough ended any sort of hopes that Airdrie would’ve had of progressing in the competition and it would take a small miracle for them to qualify on Saturday. They most likely need to score at least three away at Premiership side Livingston, and hope that Stenhousemuir cause an unlikely upset at Alloa.
McDonaugh’s men have a free weekend before facing Stranraer, who will be fresh off their impressive win against Premiership side Hamilton while Murray’s men will make the lengthy journey up to Forfar.