December 30, 2023
Dom Thomas 34
Mason Hancock 66
Nikolay Todorov 90+3
A deadly stoppage-time finish from Nikolay Todorov gave Airdrie the win they deserved after a thrilling second half comeback saw off Queen’s Park at Hampden.
Just as it seemed that the sides were heading for the umpteenth 1-1 draw in recent memory, the Bulgarian substitute produced a composed finish to send the travelling fans into raptures.
After a couple of substitute appearances in recent weeks, Lewis McGregor started for the Diamonds, replacing Gabby McGill in the only change to the side which drew with Morton last weekend.
A fairly even opening half-hour saw both sides enjoy spells of pressure, with neither able to find the killer touch in the final third.
Airdrie’s first promising move came down the right, Kanayo Megwa combining well with McGregor only for Charlie Telfer’s pass to skid beyond the run of Liam McStravick.
Dom Thomas had the first attempt on goal with an eighth-minute strike from 20-yards, but Josh Rae watched it sail harmlessly over his bar.
After a spell of Queen’s Park possession, Airdrie began to find openings around the 20-minute mark, but were halted by fouls on a number of occasions.
Mason Hancock was once again impressing at the back and getting forward well, and sent a header over the bar from Telfer’s 22nd-minute free-kick before McGregor saw a shot deflected wide four minutes later, the touch just enough to take the ball away from Calum Gallagher at the back post.
A well-judged sliding challenge from Hancock stopped a Queens attack in the 32nd-minute, but a minute later Rae’s timing was not as perfect, the keeper bringing down Louis Longridge and leaving referee Don Robertson no choice but to award a penalty.
Despite getting a strong hand to Thomas’s spot-kick, Rae was unable to keep out the powerful left-footed effort and the hosts took the lead.
Airdrie struck back instantly, but Gallagher’s ball across the box hit Alex Bannon and he was able to scramble clear before McStravick could capitalise.
The first half fizzled out as the driving rain contributed to some scrappy play from both sides.
Todorov replaced Gallagher upfront at half-time, and with Airdrie pushing forward in greater numbers they quickly took control of the match, although Jack Spong should have done better with an early corner routine from the home side.
Calum Ferrie fielded a 55th-minute Dean McMaster cross with Todorov lurking, and it was the start of a busy spell for the Queen’s Park keeper, who saved well from Todorov two minutes later.
On 59 minutes Telfer fired in a fine strike from a tight angle, but Ferrie did well to palm the shot away, and a minute later he produced another point-blank save from Todorov’s close-range effort after some slack defending.
Six minutes later Ferrie was finally beaten as Todorov raced onto a pass and rounded the keeper, but the striker was denied by the post as he fired in a low shot, with the ball scrambled behind.
The Diamonds fans didn’t have much longer to wait for the equaliser, as Telfer whipped in the corner and Hancock burst through to plant a towering header beyond Ferrie.
With the bit between their teeth, Airdrie pressed for a second and McStravick was marshalled well on 69 minutes before Todorov stroked home five minutes later only to be denied by the offside flag.
Ferrie smothered a McStravick cross as the game moved into the final ten minutes, and the keeper performed yet more heroics with a minute of regular time remaining, blocking Todorov’s shot with his feet after a flick-on from fellow substitute Gabby McGill.
In a rare foray upfield, Queen’s Park almost sneaked an unlikely winner in the first minute of stoppage time, substitute Stuart McKinstry firing in a goalbound effort from the edge of the area only for Rae to pull off a fine fingertip save.
With the final whistle looming Callum Fordyce spotted the run of Todorov, who raced out wide to collect the forward pass and bore down on goal, cutting back to take out a defender before picking his spot beyond Ferrie for an outstanding winner.
After such a mammoth effort to get in front, there was no chance of the Diamonds letting their lead slip, and they saw out the remaining minutes with ease to secure a huge three points and move back up to fifth place in the Championship table.
Stuart Mathie at Hampden Park.
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