Season Review - part III
15th July 2012
In this third part of our look back at the 2011/12 season, Douglas Barrie looks back at the beginning of the year and the incredible run of form which took us on our way to the play-offs.
The first fixture of 2012 saw the return of Albion Rovers to New Broomfield, the first time the sides met since the 7-2 catastrophe in Coatbridge. Fortunately there was no such disasters this time round as Jamie Stevenson managed to volley in the only goal of the game.
A week later saw the return of Dundee United, this time in Scottish Cup action. Unlike the League Cup tie, this was a more one-sided affair with the Terrors finding themselves 6-0 up until the 85th minute when Ryan Donnelly again proved his credentials as being a future star by plucking up two consolation goals. It wasn’t exactly the start of a comeback, but it was a sign that Airdrie would keep on fighting no matter what.
After that though, things didn’t go so well in the league. As well as the Rovers game, the only other victory in the whole of January and February came against Stirling Albion in the shape of an easy 4-1 scoreline.
New signings were also brought in; Willie McLaren’s deal was made permanent until the end of the season, and Cammy MacDonald was brought in to bolster the defence. Paul McKane was forced to leave the club due to injury and Jimmy Boyle secured the services of Grant Adam on loan from Rangers.
In a 2-0 defeat to East Fife though, Adam was sent off, leaving Andy Duncan to take post in a midweek visit to title-chasing Arbroath. It was a game that was to change Airdrie’s fortunes, and send them on the path to glory.
From 2-0 down at half-time, the Diamonds bounced back with second half goals from Derek Holmes and John Boyle. An inspiring performance, and it didn’t end there.
Another draw followed, against the also-title-challenging Cowdenbeath. Despite being 1-0 up thanks to Sean Lynch, David Lilley gave away a penalty in the second half which the Blue Brazil’s Mark Ramsay stuck past Adam.
Airdrie went on to win their next six games, making it the longest unbeaten streak in the club’s ten year history. The run started in March against Albion Rovers with Cammy MacDonald silencing the demons of November past. Forfar were then defeated 3-0, and Arbroath found themselves facing a more confident Airdrie side than the 2-2 draw only a few weeks before, with the Diamonds winning this encounter 2-0. Ryan Donnelly found the net twice against Stirling Albion, his first goals in nine games.
April saw a vital three points won against Stenhousemuir thanks to Lynch, McLaren and a peach of a fluke from Nathan Blockley. Win number six came against Brechin City before an equally as vital trip to Dumbarton.
However, the run ended here. A lackluster first half was demoralising, but Wille McLaren picked up the spirits of the travelling fans shortly into the second half. Ex-Diamond Bryan Prunty levelled the scoring, and an own goal from Lilley ensured that all the good work of the last eight weeks had potentially gone undone. Furthermore, top-scorer Donnelly saw red late in the game and the much needed goal-threat was missing for the last two league games.
Could Airdrie still make the play-offs? Could the near impossible still be achievable? Find out in the fourth and final part.