Airdrieonians 6 Kelty Hearts 1

KELTY HEARTS' bid to reach the Championship play-off places in League One continues to fade after Airdrieonians inflicted their biggest defeat of the season.

A Gabby McGill hat-trick, a Jack Milne own goal, and one apiece from Calum Gallagher and Callum Smith condemned John Potter's side to a heavy loss to the rampant Diamonds in North Lanarkshire, which he said was "embarrassing".

Three first half goals, two of which netted by former Pars forward, McGill, with the second goal, whilst credited to him inside the stadium, taking a final touch from Milne, had Airdrie in cruise control at the break.

Exactly a month ago, the Diamonds had gone three goals up against league leaders Dunfermline - whose trip to Peterhead was called off due to snow - but went on to lose 4-3.

However, Rhys McCabe's side made sure there was to be no repeat.

Two goals within as many second half minutes, from McGill for his treble, and a superb Gallagher strike, made it 5-0 before the hour mark.

Smith, with 11 minutes to go, then got in on the act before Barjonas, after winning a spot-kick, scored the resulting kick to pull one back for the visitors.

It was nothing more than scant consolation for Potter's team, who were well beaten by an impressive Airdrie, despite a bright opening that saw Joe Cardle denied well by Josh Rae with the scoreline blank.

The defeat, however, leaves them 12 points outside fourth place, and the final promotion play-off place, after Alloa Athletic won at FC Edinburgh.

When asked for his thoughts post-match, Potter said his team's performance was "embarrassing" and "not good enough, all over the pitch, every department".

"We actually started the game ok, but then to lose three goals, I don't know in how many minutes, maybe 15-20 minutes, all avoidable goals, it's hard to come back after that."

Diamonds gaffer McCabe commented: "Any win is good, but the manner of the performance, and I know we concede a goal, and the scoreline suggests that Kelty had an an opportunity, but I think Josh (Rae) had a save from Joe (Cardle), coming inside and he tips it over the bar. I think that was the only chance they created.

"To limit a side who, with the forward players they have and the forward threat, to next to nothing near enough for 90 minutes throughout the game, I've got to credit the defensive side as well as scoring the goals we did.

"I thought throughout the 90 minutes we were excellent."

Visiting boss Potter made three changes to the side that lost to FC Edinburgh last weekend.

On-loan Hibernian youngster, Kanayo Megwa, Lewis Martin and Kallum Higginbotham missed out through injury, which led to Ross Philp and Cardle being promoted from the subs bench, and Reis Peggie returning to the starting line-up.

The New Central Park side remained without the experience of Jason Thomson, Darren Lyon and Jordon Forster, with a youthful bench - player / coach, Dougie Hill, aside - featuring Heart of Midlothian loanee, Arron Darge, and three under-20 players - Kyle McCulloch, Finlay Shearer and Jordan Hunter.

For the hosts, player / boss McCabe was one of four changes to the team beaten at Queen of the South last Saturday.

He joined Euan Deveney, Lachie Byrd and Charlie Telfer amongst the substitutes, with Aaron Taylor-Sinclair, Dean McMaster, Craig Watson and Justin Devenny coming into their starting eleven.

McGill had the match's first opportunity, forcing a near post block from Darren Jamieson after doing well to skip into the penalty area on the left-hand side, but it was the visitors who came closest in the opening exchanges.

Peggie did well to switch play and find Cardle on the right-hand side and the winger, who had a spell with the Diamonds earlier in his career, did well to cut inside and shoot for the far corner, only to find Rae in the way with a fine stop.

That would have been the 100th goal of 36-year-old Cardle's senior career, but, after Jamieson had denied Justin Devenny, it was Airdrie who hit the front.

No sooner had the Kelty keeper made that save, Taylor-Sinclair was leading a break forward.

After a one-two with Callum Smith, he sent a shot towards goal, which Jamieson saved, but the rebound fell kindly for McGill to net from close range.

If that was harsh on the visitors, what was to follow for the remainder of the opening period was not.

Following the opener, the Diamonds took a grip of the game and Kelty, unable to get close to the early promise they'd shown, conceded a second just before the half hour mark.

Skipper Tidser was carded in hauling down Adam Frizzell on the left-edge of the box and, from the free-kick, Jamieson did well to save from a header towards goal.

As the ball ran loose, however, Calum Gallagher played it back across goal before it was touched into the net which, at first glance, looked like by McGill, but with other sources also quoting Tidser and Kelty team-mate, Milne.

Either way, it was a second goal for the home side, and there was no doubting the identity of the scorer of their third when it arrived in 37 minutes.

With the Kelty defence static, and both Tam O'Ware and Peggie pleading for offside that didn't come in the aftermath, Gallagher played a cute pass in behind for McGill, who lashed home emphatically from inside the area to make it 3-0.

An Alfredo Agyeman shot, which was well saved by Rae, was all that Kelty could muster before the interval after what turned out to be a disappointing opening period following a bright start.

Kelty may have had a few minutes longer than Dunfermline did to overturn a three goal deficit at the Excelsior Stadium a month ago, but a repeat of that defeat never looked likely for Airdrie.

And, within a few early second half minutes, they ensured it wouldn't be.

Twelve minutes after the break, there was no denying McGill the match ball when he ran on to Smith's through pass, rounded Jamieson and finished well to make it 4-0.

Then, two minutes later, the Diamonds had a fifth - and what a goal it was.

Gallagher, on the left-hand side, picked up the ball and, after moving away from his marker to cut infield, proceeded to rifle a superb shot into far, top corner of the net to give Jamieson no chance and send the home fans into raptures.

Frizzell almost made it a half dozen moments later, curling a fine effort just wide of target, as the promotion play-off hunting hosts went in search of even more goals.

With 11 minutes to go, they got one, when Smith, from sub Charlie Telfer's corner, which was missed by everyone, including goalkeeper Jamieson, tapped in at the far post.

Although Barjonas won, and converted, a penalty for his eighth of the season, it hardly mattered as Airdrie bolstered their play-off hopes, and significantly damaged Kelty's.

Airdrieonians: Rae, Ballantyne, Taylor-Sinclair, Fordyce, Gallagher (Kouider-Aissa 71), Frizzell (Telfer 69), Smith, McMaster, Watson, Devenny (Stanway 69), McGill (Dixon 81).

Subs not used: McCabe, Deveney, Byrd, Hutton.

Goals: McGill (19, 37, 57), Milne OG (30), Gallagher (59), Smith (79).

Kelty Hearts: Jamieson, Peggie (McCulloch 89), O'Ware, Cardle (Darge 69), Austin (Shearer 80), Barjonas, Tidser, Philp (Hunter 80), Milne, Agyeman, Leitch.

Subs not used: Shearer, Campbell.

Goal: Barjonas (85, penalty).

Booked: Tidser (29), Leitch (81).

Referee: Matthew MacDermid.