December 23, 2022
cinch League 1
Matthew Wright 10
Michael Gardyne 74
Paul Watson 🟥 80
Callum Fordyce 15
Euan Deveney 50
Gabby McGill 57
Rhys McCabe 82
Airdrie produced a Christmas cracker to bring some festive cheer to the Diamonds fans with an excellent performance and result at Montrose.
Fixtures involving these sides have rarely been dull of late, with 24 goals in the last four meetings, and the promotion-chasing pair didn’t disappoint on a wintery night at Links Park.
Airdrie player-boss Rhys McCabe made three changes to the side which drew at Falkirk almost three weeks ago, captain Callum Fordyce returning from injury with Adam Frizzell and Gabby McGill given starting spots. Aaron Taylor-Sinclair, Dean McMaster and Lewis Jamieson were the players to make way.
With the wind behind them in the first half Airdrie started brighter, Callum Smith and Frizzell both missing the target from decent positions in the opening stages.
With their first real attack Montrose took the lead on ten minutes, the Diamonds’ failure to clear a cross from a deadball leading to hesitation in the six-yard box with Matthew Wright taking full advantage.
Airdrie were denied a quick leveller by Montrose keeper Ross Sinclair, the on-loan St Johnstone man getting his fingertips to Smith’s effort after an excellent through ball had played the striker in.
The Diamonds weren’t to be denied much longer though, and it was skipper Fordyce who equalised with a well-taken strike after Charlie Telfer’s corner had broken to the edge of the box. It was a fine finish from the defender when it would have been easy to favour power over accuracy.
Fordyce could have got a second ten minutes later, rising to meet another Telfer corner but this time sending his header flying over the bar.
Home fans were looking for a penalty on 28 minutes, but referee Barry Cook made the right call after former Montrose defender Cammy Ballantyne executed a perfectly time sliding challenge on Rory McAllister.
The veteran striker then saw a curling strike comfortably held by Dean Lyness before McGill burst forward and sent a long-range effort high and wide.
Airdrie’s setpieces were causing problems, and defender Craig Watson saw a spinning effort saved by Sinclair after a 42nd-minute corner, with a chaotic final minute of the half seeing good chances for both sides thwarted by the conditions as much as good defending.
The home side would have fancied their chances with the wind at their backs after the break, but in reality it forced Airdrie to keep the ball on the deck, and the Diamonds produced a fantastic second half performance to secure the points.
Just five minutes after the restart a brilliant passage of one-touch passing took the ball down the Airdrie left and across goal, with McGill’s superb touch playing in Euan Deveney in an unexpected position, and the defender swept home his first senior goal to give the Diamonds the lead.
Montrose retaliated through Michael Gardyne, but his 53rd-minute shot went over the bar.
As Stewart Petrie made changes in an attempt to find a way back into the match, Airdrie added a third which had a touch of luck about it.
The impressive Telfer advanced with the ball and fired a low effort toward goal, with the ball taking a touch off McGill and sending Sinclair the wrong way.
As the Diamonds looked to turn the screw, Frizzell saw a good effort blocked behind after more good vision from Telfer.
Lewis Milne sent a 69th-minute effort wide before Airdrie almost added another picture-perfect goal a minute later, Smith and Frizzell both sending defenders to ground with their quick footwork before Sinclair blocked with his legs. As the Diamonds continued the attack, the keeper made a good diving save from substitute Justin Devenny.
Airdrie were unlucky not to stretch their lead again three minutes later, the ball somehow staying out after a stramash in the six-yard box.
The sucker-punch came via a rare Montrose attack on 74 minutes, Gardyne’s excellent strike looking goalbound even without the deflection which took it past Lyness.
Their tails up, Montrose almost equalised two minutes later as a superb curling strike shook Lyness’s crossbar before McAllister fired just over.
Any hope of a comeback looked to be dashed with ten minutes remaining as Gable Endies captain Paul Watson, who had only been on the field a matter of seconds, was shown a straight red card for a high, reckless challenge on Devenny.
As the home side’s frustrations boiled over, a yellow card was shown to Kerr Waddell for a trip on McGill, but McCabe ensured the punishment was severe as he rifled the free-kick into the top corner - against the wind and from some distance - for another surefire Goal of the Season contender.
Montrose weren’t done yet, and it took a slight deflection to take a McAllister effort over the bar, but Airdrie had the final chances when Frizzell’s dipping effort went just over and Sinclair saved at the feet of Smith after a marauding attack.
The win takes Airdrie above Montrose into the play-off positions, but with the League 1 table as tight as ever the happy Diamonds fans will surely expect more twists and turns in the new year.
Stuart Mathie at Links Park.
Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.