Peterhead 0 Airdrieonians 1
The Peterhead commentary team summed up the 1-0 home defeat from Airdrie perfectly when they said: “Since the turn of the year Peterhead have created a million chances, but there has not been a million goals.”
The Blue Toon put on another fine display of football however they could not get the ball over the line and went down to Jonathan Afolabi’s first half goal.
Balmoor manager Jim McInally was all set to field the same side that had done so well in the Scottish Cup against Dundee last Monday however Ryan Conroy felt a hamstring problem in the warm-up and was replaced by former Diamond Rico Quitongo.
Flynn Duffy moved to right back to cover Conroy’s absence with Quitongo playing at left back with both players settling into their roles quickly.
What Peterhead did not need early in the game was another slice of bad luck however one came after just 10 minutes when Afolabi was late in a challenge with Jason Brown. The home defender had to go off for treatment and whilst he bravely carried on it was clear that he was in some pain.
On 15 minutes a fine passing move between Ryan Duncan and Scott Brown teed up a chance for the Blue Toon skipper however his well struck drive was deflected past for a corner.
Brett Long used his legs to deny Airdrie’s Calum Gallagher before Andy McCarthy saw a long-distance shot held by Max Currie on 18 minutes.
As the hosts continued to push and probe it looked like the opener was arriving seven minutes later and what a goal it would have been!
Grant Savoury pierced the visiting defence with a fine ball out to the left where the galloping Quitongo took it in his stride before skipping past a defender and hitting the touchline. Quitongo’s driven cross was flicked back into the path of Savoury, who had darted into the box, however under pressure from an Airdrie defender the midfielder’s shot rose and cleared the bar.
Two minutes later Duncan fired wide and Airdrie raced up the park and punished Peterhead for scoring a goal that had a touch of good fortune about it.
A cross was flighted in to Afolabi who mishit a volley high into the air with the ball eventually dropping to Rhys McCabe who tapped it back to the striker who slotted home from seven yards.
The Peterhead players took a few minutes to compose themselves after going behind however they got back on top in the closing stages of the first half with Hamish Ritchie curling a shot over and then seeing another effort drop wide.
There could have been few harsh words from manager McInally at the break despite his side losing and they quickly looked to get level at the start of the second 45 minutes when skipper Brown charged forward only to send his shot off target.
Peterhead carved out a great opening on 56 minutes when Duncan sent over a teasing cross that Payne back-heeled towards the Airdrie goal. His cheeky effort was blocked however he quickly regained possession and sent a shot pass to Ritchie who cracked a shot that hit Currie and climbed over the bar.
Payne took charge of the next opening and surged towards Currie’s goal before cracking in a strong effort that beat Currie but met the same fate as Ritchie’s recent effort.
Peterhead, who were denied a penalty in their Cup clash with Dundee, were denied a spot-kick against the Diamonds on 66 minutes when Payne’s cross came off the hand of Brody Paterson however referee Stewart Luke was unmoved.
As the hosts continued their search for a deserved equaliser the visiting Callum Fordyce put in a solid tackle to deny substitute Russell McLean advancing clear with 15 minutes left.
With nine minutes to go it looked like Peterhead’s endeavours were to finally be rewarded when Airdrie defender Josh Kerr slipped and that allowed McLean to go through one on one with Currie.
McLean remained calm as he bore down on goal and moved past the advancing shot-stopper however Fordyce popped up on the line to clear the striker’s shot.
Airdrie saw the game out to pick up the three points with Peterhead left wondering what they need to do to score and hopefully they will with chance one million and one at Falkirk on Tuesday.
Peterhead – Long, Duffy (Jack Brown 80), Jason Brown, McDonald, Quitongo, Scott Brown, McCarthy, Duncan (McLean 61), Savoury, Ritchie (Jordon Brown 86), Payne
Unused substitutes – Cook, Cairns, Cullen (G/k), Lyle