SEASON REVIEW - PART IV
17th July 2012
In this fourth and final part, Douglas Barrie sees out the end of the 2011/12 season and another venture into the First Division Play-Offs for the Diamonds.
Despite the defeat to Dumbarton, Airdrie were determined to bounce back and keep the promotion push in sight. A vital three points was needed against other potential play-off candidates East Fife. Their visit to New Broomfield though didn’t go as they had planned.
Sean Lynch put the home side in the driving seat and a typically brilliant goal from Jamie Bain ensure that three points, and vital goal difference, went in Airdrie’s favour. Of course there had to be some snag along the way; coming in the form of a red card for Willie McLaren.
Another player down, the Diamonds marched onto the last game of the season against champions elect Cowdenbeath, but it was a game that neither side was particularly bothered to win - especially since all that was needed for the visitors was the draw. If it hadn’t been for a certain Paul McKane keeping Stenhousemuir at bay in the Forfar goal, it might have ended differently.
Airdrie’s first goal-less draw in over 100 games had led them to a Play-Off semi-final against First Division Ayr United.
Just like the proverbial buses, another 0-0 draw came along straight away. It was a tense affair, with both sides having a host of chances and Airdrie proving they had what it took to beat the Honest Men in the return leg the coming Saturday.
And that’s exactly what they did. Derek Holmes banged in goals either side of Andy Greggan’s tap-in, before McLaren (fresh from his two game suspension) added the cherry on top of the travelling fans day. It was an incredible atmosphere that Airdrie fans have not had the pleasure of experiencing in a long time.
Unfortunately that’s where the fun ended. Both legs of the Play-Off final against Dumbarton were to be shown live on BBC Alba - and our boys got camera shy.
Bryan Prunty came out to haunt his old club again by opening the scoring in the first leg, and Tony Wallace doubled the home advantage with a header from Scott Agnew’s low free-kick. In the second half Airdrie were awarded a penalty after Jamie Stevenson was pulled down in the box. With Lovering having missed a penalty against Ayr only a week previous, and next best penalty taker Stevenson shaking off his knock, it was up to young Jamie Bain to pull one back. Stephen Grindlay saved his original effort, but Bain hit the rebound to give the Diamonds a glimmer of hope.
On the Sunday it was back to Broomfield, for the last and most vital game of the season which had also started with a visit of Dumbarton. Nearly 3,000 had turned up this time (compared to just under 900 on the opening league game) and it was always going to be a tough encounter.
It was even worse when just before ten minutes had even passed Craig Dargo lobbed Grant Adam to open the scoring. Quickly he doubled his lead, but Holmes managed to make it 2-1 (4-2 on aggregate) with the simplest of tap-ins. Airdrie had it all to do and they just couldn’t do it.
Optimistic as the home fans may have been going into the second half, few were barely back in their seats when Mark Gilhaney made it 3-1 and sent the Sons into party mode. Tony Wallace added insult to injury to make it 6-2 on aggregate to Dumbarton.
And so that was the 2011/12 season for the Diamonds. Since then though, one of the craziest summers of sport has hit us, with the administration and liquidation of Rangers FC. They now find themselves in the Third Division, and come the opening day of the season Airdrie may yet find themselves yet again starting the league campaign at home to Dumbarton.
Who’d be a football fan? I know I would, every day. Mon the Diamonds!