Saints continued their rich vein of form in 2013 with another victory on their travel as they visited league leaders in a League cup tie. Manager Ross Lafferty's hand was forced to make some changes to starting XI as Craig Sinclair came in at right back with Gareth Fairley starting directly in front of him on the right wing. Saints started brightly and the first goal came shortly after the 10 minute mark. Marauding centre half Grant Elliot broke with the ball just inside his own half and went on a pulsating run; jinking between a couple of Airdrie defenders before slotting the ball to striker Rab Hillcoat. The Airdrie keeper had no chance to think as the Saints man smashed the ball powerfully high and hard into the home net. 1-0 saints and a great start for the visitors.
Chris Dailly, David Bannerman and Craig Muir were getting a lot of joy down the left hand side with some lovely worked passing moves and Saints started to show some superiority in the first half. Gary Clark was winning the midfield battle and his compadre David Wilson was floating in some lovely pinpoint passes to forwards Hillcoat and Muir. The 2nd goal was impending and the football leading up to it was not be missed. Commanding centre half Fraser Gray played a simple pass to full back Dailly who worked a neat wall pass to Muir in the middle of the pitch. Muir played an early ball to hard working winger Bannerman on the left midfield and he beat his man with ease. Bannerman gave it back to the ever cool Muir again for a neat 1-2 and Bannerman duly accepted the reply by stepping inside his man on the edge of the box and blasting past the helpless Airdrie keeper at the near post. Great goal by the visitors on the half hour mark.
Airdrie pushed to claw back a goal before the half time whistle, however the defence remained impossible to breach with Gray and Elliot winning everything at the back. Gary Clark hit a long range effort which had Airdrie worried, but just fell the wrong side of the post for the saints number 8. 2 nil to St Mirrenoff at the break.
Airdrie were out sharpish from the half time rest period and you could tell we were keen to get back into the game as they forced William Rankine into some great reaction saves in the opening 10 mins. Rankine's next key involvement came when he started a quick penetrating passing move, forcing the Airdrie keeper into a cynical scything down of striker Hillcoat. The buddies cut the home side open from the back when Dailly found Wilson in the middle of the park. Wilson moved the ball early onto Clark, who returned the ball to his midfield partner, whose lovely slide rule pass totally unwitted the Airdrie midfield and ran perfectly into the oncoming Hillcoat, timing his run to perfection. The keeper knew he was beat and chopped down Hillcoat a few yards from goal resulting in a stonewall penalty which dead ball specialist Davie Wilson duly slotted away. 3 nil Saints.
The buddies brought on the returning Roy "goals, goals, goals" Henderson, who missed most of the season due to work commitments, for hard working wide man Gareth Fairley for the restart. Whilst Airdrie - obviously angered by their own failings - managed to get 2 goals back within 10 mins of each other. The 1st when their pacy number 10 timed his run to perfection to slot home, the 2nd goal a far more fortuitous affair when an unfortunate header from Muir fell right in the path of the Airdrie striker, and he knocked it past the saints keeper from 10 yards. 3-2 to the visitors. Game on!
3 quickly became 4 for the in form buddies when Rankine released a long kick to Hillcoat - who had tortured the Airdrie defence all day - ran onto and blasted low to return the saints 2 goal cushion. 5 mins left to play and the home team threw the ball continously forward. Rankine again making 2 great reactionary saves and the St. Mirrenoff back line proving too hard to break down.
Final whistle came and gaffer Ross Lafferty will be delighted with a great performance and result against top of the table Airdrie, and progression into next round of league cup, resulting in a tie against Hamilton Accies in the quarters.