October 4, 2022
cinch League 1
Lewis Milne 5
Adam Mackinnon 13
Craig Johnston 79, 84
Calum Gallagher 54
Lewis Jamieson 68
The Diamonds were once again undone by the impact of a late substitute as Craig Johnston fired Montrose to victory in a thrilling match.
Having gone behind early, the momentum seemed to be with Airdrie as they fought back to 2-2 and dominated proceedings, but Johnston had the final say with two goals at the death.
Calum Gallagher, Craig Watson and Justin Devenny returned to the Diamonds starting XI after missing out at Kelty on Saturday, with former Cove Rangers striker Rory McAllister leading the line for the hosts.
Devenny had the visiting fans on their feet after just three minutes, stepping onto Adam Frizzell’s square pass and smashing into the side netting, with a number of supporters in the main stand thinking the midfielder had scored.
Two minutes later the home side were in front, Lewis Milne finding space at the corner of the penalty box and curling a superb effort into the top corner of Alex Henderson’s goal.
The former Raith Rovers man took up a similar position a minute later, but this time opted for a low drive which Henderson saved.
Their tails up, Stewart Petrie’s men went in search of a second and should have done better with a low seventh-minute cross which the incoming attackers could only bundle behind.
Things went from bad to worse for Airdrie when the influential Frizzell went off injured, and on 13 minutes Montrose added a second, Adam Mackinnon tucking away Michael Gardyne’s pass.
Airdrie rallied through Frizzell’s replacement Lewis Jamieson, who saw his 18th-minute effort deflected into the arms of goalkeeper Aaron Lennox, and the home side rode their luck when Devenny’s corner two minutes later sliced off the head of a defender and cleared the bar.
Callum Fordyce was unlucky with a looping header from the resultant corner before player-manager Rhys McCabe went close with a powerful drive from the edge of the box.
Gallagher was next to have a go for the Diamonds, his 23rd-minute curler going agonisingly close.
McAllister burst through on goal with ten minutes of the first half remaining, lifting the ball over Henderson only to see former Montrose defender Cammy Ballantyne racing back to clear off the line.
Henderson saved a low Matthew Wright shot on 41 minutes, and Lennox denied Ballantyne at the other end just before the break, stretching to touch the ball away as the full-back broke through and attempted to round the keeper.
Lennox saved well from Jamieson on the stroke of half-time, and the hosts took their two goal lead into the interval.
Airdrie made another enforced change before proceedings got back underway, Aaron Taylor-Sinclair replacing Fordyce with the Diamonds captain unable to continue after taking a stray elbow in the face.
The visitors continued to move the ball at pace, and Jamieson should have done better with a 53rd-minute volley from Euan Deveney’s cross, but a minute later the Diamonds had one back, McCabe getting to the bye-line and whipping in a pinpoint cross for Gallagher to head home.
A clumsy challenge by Seán Dillon on Jamieson went unpunished by referee Alan Newlands on 59 minutes before the St Mirren loanee curled an effort wide two minutes later.
Callum Smith repeated the feat from the other side, but the chances were all coming Airdrie’s way and Jamieson’s persistence paid off on 68 minutes as the striker raced on to a ball well won by Gallagher and took a good touch in the box before slotting beyond Lennox to level the tie.
Although the momentum seemed to be with the Diamonds, Montrose proved they still posed a threat on 74 minutes, McAllister forcing a fine stop from Henderson as the veteran striker span and shot just inside the box.
Lennox performed a similar feat at the other end a minute later, getting a fingertip to Charlie Telfer’s low drive before saving another Jamieson effort.
The sucker punch came with 11 minutes remaining, substitute Johnston darting to the front post and angling a header beyond Henderson to put the hosts back in front, and the lively striker got his second five minutes later, this time converting a low cutback from the left hand side.
Stoppage-time efforts from Devenny and Gallagher came to nothing, and the Diamonds were left feeling hard done by after amassing 24 shots to Montrose’s 12.
The result sees Airdrie finish the first quarter in fourth place, with Queen of the South lying in wait for the Diamonds as the second round of fixtures kick off this weekend.
Stuart Mathie at Links Park.
Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.