Airdrie 4 Albion Rovers 0: MacDonald bags debut goal as Diamonds earn derby win to kick-off pre-season

-Credit: (Image: Paul Thomson)
-Credit: (Image: Paul Thomson)

A debut goal from youngster Dylan MacDonald helped Airdrie kick-off their pre-season with a victory over Monklands derby rivals Albion Rovers.

The 20-year-old right-back joined from Lowland League East Kilbride in the summer and made a fast start for the Championship side, opening the scoring with a 38th minute header in a 4-0 victory over the Coatbridge outfit, before a cool finish from Lewis McGregor, a Mason Hanock header and a Cammy Cooper strike sealed the bragging rights after the break.

Of course, it was very much a day of experimenting for both sides as Rovers fielded a host of trialists and the Diamonds changed their entire 11 at half-time, but those inside the newly named Albert Bartlett Stadium were treated to a competitive and entertaining game in the opening 45 minutes.

There was no place for new Airdrie signing Ben Wilson, who will not officially complete his move from Cliftonville until July 1, but player-boss Rhys McCabe was able to hand players their starting debuts with MacDonald, Murray Johnson, Aidan Wilson, Cammy Bruce, Terrell Agyemang and Rhys Armstrong all involved. Rovers boss Sandy Clark named just six familiar faces in Ross Connelly, Adam Fernie, Alan Reid, Dom McMahon, Alex McCaw and Josh Tran, who have all signed new deals since last season, while the vast majority of the squad was made up of trialists aiming to win a contract with the club.

In the fourth minute it was Rovers who created the first real opportunity when Dom McMahon got down the right and whipped the ball into the box for the No.9 trialist to try and acrobatic effort, which flew wide of the target.

Dom McMahon, right, of Albion Rovers -Credit:Phil Dawson
Dom McMahon, right, of Albion Rovers -Credit:Phil Dawson

Airdrie responded with Elliot Dunlop bursting down the right wing before firing a tantalising ball across the face of goal, which evaded two home players waiting along the six-yard box.

In 12 minutes Bright Prince robbed Dunlop of possession and released the No.6 trialist into the box for a one-on-one opportunity with Murray Johnson, and the on-loan Hibs goalkeeper stood up well to get a superb touch on the shot, turning it behind for a corner.

Airdrie were twice denied an opener in the space of a few seconds in the 17th minute. Firstly, a great cut inside by Armstrong saw him pick out the run of Nikolay Todorov. The Bulgarian hit it first time and smacked the post with Ross Connelly in the Rovers goal beaten all ends up, leaving the rebound to fall to Airdrie's No.23 trialist. He showed terrific composure to cut back, leaving two defenders for dead, but his curling effort towards the bottom corner was superbly palmed away by Connelly.

However, the Diamonds were not to be denied the breakthrough and they found it in the 38th minute. A corner from was whipped into the front post and EK native MacDonald rose highest to nod the ball past Connelly from close range.

Dylan MacDonald has signed for Airdrie -Credit:AFC
Dylan MacDonald has signed for Airdrie -Credit:AFC

A rasping drive form Rovers' No.12 trialist forced Johnson into a smart stop, tipping the ball over the top, as half-time approached.

In the final seconds of the half Airdrie should have doubled their lead when a fine run from Cammy Bruce saw him weave his way into the box and fire the ball across goal. His cross found both Todorov and Armstrong and, as they got in each other's way trying to turn it in from all of two yards, they managed to balloon the ball over the bar and out of the stadium.

At the break, Airdrie switched up their line-up completely with 11 substitutes, handing new signings Lewis McGrattan, Aaron Reid and Cammy Cooper their debuts.

And Cooper should have opened his account five minutes in when Lewis McGregor's cross picked him out in the six-yard box, but he couldn't connect properly with the ball to poke it past Connelly.

Just a minute later, however, Airdrie doubled their advantage. A good move down the left led to McGrattan unselfishly slipping in McGregor for a cool finish high into the net beyond a helpless Connelly.

Airdrie defender Mason Hancock says his side will use their play-off disappointment to bounce back next season
Airdrie defender Mason Hancock was on target -Credit:SNS Group

Airdrie were taking advantage of the 11 fresh players on the pitch and in 62 minutes they made it 3-0. Club captain Adam Frizzell swung in a corner towards the far post where defender Mason Hancock rose highest to nod the ball back across goal and into the far corner to put the game beyond the visitors.

A nasty clash of heads between Airdrie's Gavin Gallagher and a Rovers trialist saw the Diamonds man come off worse, leading to him being helped off the field by the club medic.

In 70 minutes Aaron Reid thought he'd tucked home a debut goal for himself, nudging the ball into the net from Hancock's delivery, but the offside flag cut his celebrations short. McGrattan then saw a curling effort clip the post.

Twelve minutes from time, substitute Cammy Cooper got in on the act, opening his account for the club when Connelly misjudged a ball into the box and allowed the former Oxford United striker to slot home from a tight angle.

Airdrie now travel to Belfast to play Crusaders on Tuesday, while Rovers host Cumbernauld United next Saturday.

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