Season opener ends in defeat

Jul 31, 2022

Peterhead’s League 1 campaign started off with a visit from Airdrieonians and it was the men from Lanarkshire who emerged victorious in a 2-0 success. The Diamonds hit the Blue Toon with two goals just before the half-time whistle and despite having chances to get back into the game after the restart the Balmoor men could not get the goal that would have provided a springboard.

Injuries and suspensions prevented Peterhead manager Jim McInally from fielding a settled side in the four Premier Sports Cup games prior to the opening league game and unfortunately absences were again prominent in his starting line-up.

Five regular starters from last season – the injured Jason Brown, Andy McCarthy, Russell McLean and Hamish Ritchie as well as the suspended Andy McDonald were again missing, with manager McInally calling in two trialists to his match day squad and new loan recruit Max Gilles from Queen’s Park.

It was the hosts that earned the first corner of the game on four minutes and they also had the first glimpse of goal when the ball fell to David Wilson on the six-yard line however his effort drifted wide. Airdrie’s player/ manager Rhys McCabe had an effort on target on six minutes with Jack Newman able to deal with it in the centre of his goal.

On nine minutes the Blue Toon had a let off when an Airdrie corner reached Craig Watson at the back post with the visiting defender nodding wide when a goal looked on. Peterhead threatened again on 11 minutes when Ryan Dow flicked the ball onto Conor O’Keefe with the attacker’s volley held by visiting goalkeeper Murray Johnston. Two minutes Newman denied Airdrie a goal with the bar keeping out a header from Justin Devenny and then the shot-stopper making a fine stop from Cammy Ballantyne on the follow-up.

Ballantyne showed his defensive qualities shortly afterwards as he raced back to cut out the danger posed by a break from O’Keefe before Airdrie went close again through a Callum Fordyce header that was cleared from the goal-line. Ola Adeyemo had a shot blocked on 31 minutes with the deadlock broken by Airdrie through a mixture of good luck and fine skill two minutes later. A ball out of the visiting defence was intercepted by Wilson on the half-way line however his clearance struck Callum Smith and ricocheted into the Peterhead half with Smith leading the chase to retrieve it.

Smith scampered down the left before cutting in and driving past Paul Dixon and Wilson before burying a shot past Newman. On 39 minutes it was 2-0 when Devenny swung over a corner from the right and Watson got everything right this time as he rose above Wilson and nodded in. Adeyemo had a header saved before the teams trooped off at the end of the first 45 minutes with Airdrie two ahead.

The Blue Toon came out for the second half with instructions from manager McInally to press Airdrie further up the park and the change showed early signs of working with O’Keefe getting two opportunities after 50 minutes with his first effort blocked and his second slipping wide. Three minutes later a Fordyce clearance was blocked by Adeyemo and that allowed the striker to have a one on one with Johnston however he slipped his shot into the side-netting.

Airdrie responded to Peterhead upping their game with a 25-yard shot from McCabe that Newman had to tip over. A decent chance opened up for Jordon Brown on 57 minutes however he sent his effort off target with the player/ coach replaced shortly afterwards by Ryan Strachan who was looking to add more game time under his belt following ankle surgery. Strachan’s first involvement was to send a pass through the Airdrie rear-guard and find Adeyemo with Watson doing well to get back and block.

Adeyemo was doing everything he could to get on the score-sheet and with 16 minutes left he pounced on a loose ball however his parting shot failed to trouble Johnston. Before the final whistle Gabby McGill was not far away from adding a third for Airdrie before Callum Gallagher slipped an effort past the post for McCabe’s men with Peterhead unable to find the net despite a very competitive second 45 minutes.

Peterhead – Newman, Gillies, Wilson, Dixon, D Strachan, Jack Brown, Trialist (McGale 70), Jordon Brown (R Strachan 61), Dow, O’Keefe (Simpson 84), Adeyemo. Unused substitutes – McLeod, Trialist (g/k)