Iain Russell was the hat-trick hero for the Diamonds in their final pre-season fixture at Galabank.
The former Queen of the South striker answered criticism from his former local rivals supporters in fine style with three goals in 12 minutes against an Annan squad filled with trialists for the match.
Kevin McBride started with a very strong line up for the kick off with only four substitutes listed.
Despite playing into a strong headwind Airdrie enjoyed the bulk of the pressure in the first half.
Passing the ball quickly and with accuracy they pushed the home side back in the early stages, but found that final ball hard to judge in the conditions despite Andy Ryan, Iain Russell and Adam Brown making fine runs off the ball.
Annan’s Max Wright fired a shot low to Rohan Ferguson’s left side that the Airdrie keeper took comfortably seven minutes in.
His opposite number Blair Currie also reacted well to collect Ryan Conroy’s curling free kick inside his penalty box with 14 minutes gone.
Joe Gorman fired a terrific 30 yard shot that was on target and pushed over the bar by Currie after 18 minutes.
Four minutes later an excellent driving run down the right was followed up a great ball into the box that Ryan just failed to connect with.
A minute later Stewart picked out Brown who cut inside from the right and fired a shot high over the target.
Conor McLaughlin replaced James Daly after the break after Daly had come in for some harsh treatment by the home side.
A spell of pressure from the Diamonds threatened to break the deadlock.
Brown’s cross into the box on 57 minutes was headed for goal by McLaughlin but his effort was blocked then cleared.
Conroy’s free kick on 61 minutes was smartly taken under his crossbar by Currie.
Annan were providing a greater threat in the closing 25 minutes.
A decent passing move between four players almost saw the number 19 trialist put his team mate in behind the visiting defence, but Ferguson was out to gather the ball.
At the other end McLaughlin combined with Brown who raced into the box and his driven shot was saved by Currie. Brown chased the rebound and sent a looping cross back in that the keeper grabbed under the bar.
In 67 minutes Annan took the lead after their trialist no.19 raced across the edge of the penalty area then fired a fine shot low past Ferguson at his right post.
Airdrie reacted immediately and levelled matters a minute later. Some fine play down the left from Kieran MacDonald saw the defender send a great cross in. Ryan flicked on and Russell’s overhead kick gave Currie no chance as it touched the crossbar on the way into the net.
Four minutes later an excellent delivery into the box from 30 yards out picked out Russell who rose high and headed the ball out of Currie’s reach into the net to put Airdrie in front.
McLaughlin was making a real difference following his introduction and in 74 minutes linked well with Stewart who raced to the goal line then cut the ball back to Ryan who fired the ball wide to the right of goal.
Ten minutes from time a headed passback by Annan's trialist no.3 was intercepted by Russell who reacted quickly, racing in on goal and sliding the ball past Currie for a 3-1 advantage.
The Annan trialist 19 made a superb run when he picked up the ball in 83 minutes, raced all the way upfield then from 30 yards out sent in a wonderful shot that gave Ferguson no chance as the ball flew high into the keeper’s top right hand corner of the net.
Lots of promising performances in what was a decent test, and a contest not lacking commitment in the challenges from the opposition.
The preseason matches have also seen the goals shared around, with Russell joining the others with his first goals for Airdrieonians.
John O'Brien at Ainslie Park.
Photographs © John Steven. Click to view full-size.