April 8, 2023
cinch League 1
Gabby McGill 60
Adam Frizzell 88
Lewis McGregor 90+2
Montrose made Airdrie wait till the last half-hour to seize control, but three classy goals handed the Diamonds a fifth straight victory in the Excelsior sunshine.
Manager Rhys McCabe stuck with the same starting XI and bench which won 1-0 at Alloa last weekend, but it was the visitors who made the best of the early chances with Aaron Taylor-Sinclair having to defend well as a second-minute breakthrough had the Diamonds backline scrambling.
Four minutes later Craig Johnston almost had his side in front as a corner kick was flicked on to him, but the striker sent his header against the upright.
A fumble from Ross Matthews gave Calum Gallagher a sight of goal on eight minutes, but the Montrose keeper recovered well to block the shot with his torso.
Brazilian midfielder Matheus Machado aimed a weak header straight at Rae in the 11th-minute as the sides exchanged half-chances, but Matthews was at his best to deny Gabby McGill two minutes later as the striker almost took advantage of Cammy Ballantyne’s superb sliding tackled and crossfield pass.
Justin Devenny chose to stay on his feet when he looked to be fouled in the box on 19 minutes, his shot blocked and cleared to safety.
Dean McMaster was next up for the Diamonds, but his long-range effort didn’t trouble Matthews.
With the visitors pressing well and stopping Airdrie from finding a rhythm, Blair Lyons should have done better with a header six minutes before the break.
Matthews denied McGill at close range a minute later, and Callum Smith curled an effort over the top with the last chance of the first half.
Smith had another opportunity after the restart, dragging a 47th-minute effort wide of the target before Lyons saw a 25-yard effort deflected behind for a corner.
Montrose sub Adam Mackinnon was impressing in midfield, but was frustrated to see his good work on 51 minutes come to an end when Johnston rifled a shot high and wide of Josh Rae’s goal.
Matthews got a good touch on Ballantyne’s 55th-minute cross, just beating McGill to the ball, then Gallagher fired over after linking well with Adam Frizzell.
McGill made sure he was first to the ball as Frizzell picked out a superb cross on the hour mark following Callum Smith’s reverse pass, the striker getting across his man and angling home a header to give the Diamonds the lead.
Montrose boss Stewart Petrie made a triple-change in an effort to get his side back into the game, and talismanic striker Rory McAllister looked to have a chance to shoot on 64 minutes before skipper Callum Fordyce calmly dispossessed the striker and waltzed clear.
The Diamonds made their own changes, and Charlie Telfer almost had an instant impact as he lined up a 72nd-minute free-kick, shaping to cross before firing in a vicious strike which Matthew did well to fist clear.
Four minutes later Gallagher headed wide as he contorted his body to reach a Craig Watson cross.
Rae saved comfortably from Matty Allan with 11 minutes remaining, and subs Telfer and Ben Stanway were denied by some desperate defending on 86 minutes.
Stanway was crudely taken out on the edge of the box by Seán Dillon two minutes later, and the impressive Frizzell punished the veteran defender with a sweetly-struck free-kick which he curled over the wall with the right side of the goal gaping.
McAllister found a route to goal in the final minute, but his effort hit the side netting.
There was time for another for the Diamonds, and it came courtesy of lively substitute Lewis McGregor who held the line to step on to Charlie Telfer’s through-ball and calmly slotted past Matthews.
The visitors will perhaps feel the scoreline was harsh having defended well throughout, but Airdrie’s quality showed in the final stages and the Diamonds took another big step towards the play-offs.
Stuart Mathie at Excelsior Stadium.
Photos © Robert Dalzell. Click to view full-size.