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March 16, 2024

cinch Championship





Arron Lyall 39
Liam McStravick 45+3
Mason Hancock 47
Charlie Telfer 69
Craig Watson 77


Ryan Dow 16
David Gold 54


Airdrie survived an early setback to smash five past Arbroath, with five different goalscorers catapulting the Diamonds back into the promotion play-off spots.

Rhys McCabe stepped out of the side which had drawn 0-0 at Inverness last week, alongside two enforced changes in the shape of injury victims Gabby McGill and Josh Rae. Dean McMaster, Arron Lyall and debutant keeper Robbie Hemfrey were the replacements.

A number of familiar faces were among the visitors squad, led by ex-Diamonds Jim McIntyre and Jimmy Boyle. Starters Scott Stewart and Charlie Reilly had both spent time at the Excelsior, as had substitutes Leighton McIntosh and Innes Murray.

Airdrie showed their intent to pass around their opponents early on, with a nice move ended when Adam Frizzell’s pass just evaded Charlie Telfer in the box.

Arbroath’s first sight of goal fell to midfielder Michael McKenna, who blazed over from the edge of the area on 11 minutes.

A minute later Liam McStravick was denied by a perfectly-timed Ricky Little intervention as the Irishman danced into the box, with McKenna firing over again as play swung to the other end.

Little did enough to clear Mason Hancock’s 14th-minute cross away from Nikolay Todorov, and two minutes later the Gayfield side had the lead, Reilly dispossessing Kanayo Megwa and picking out Ryan Dow’s well-timed run. The former Dunfermline man despatched beyond Hemfrey to open the scoring.

Dow was almost in again four minutes later, but Hancock got back to block his cross for a corner.

Airdrie almost got an equaliser on the 25-minute mark, Callum Fordyce heading goalward with a deflection taking the ball over the crossbar before another decent effort was blocked from the resultant corner.

As Airdrie upped the pressure on their visitors, Lyall and McStravick were looking dangerous in the wide forward positions, and the former found Frizzell with a 29th-minute cutback only to see the Diamonds skipper fire his shot against Max Boruc’s bar.

Arbroath lost Reilly to injury ten minutes before the break, and with him a lot of their creative spark. The away side were next to threaten however, and it took a smart stop from Hemfrey to stop a low cross finding Bird for a tap-in.

Airdrie punished the miss with a superb equaliser from Lyall on 39 minutes, a late run allowing the on-loan midfielder to smash home after good play from Megwa on the right.

Todorov thought he had headed the Diamonds into the lead three minutes later, but the Bulgarian was denied by an offside flag.

In first-half stoppage time a Lyall cross fell just behind McStravick, and his backheeled effort bounced back off a defender. There was no denying the midfielder a minute later though, bending his run to stay onside for Lyall’s delightful ball forward, and taking a touch before placing the ball between the legs of the outrushing Boruc.

Having turned the game around on the stroke of half-time, Airdrie increased their lead two minutes into the second half, Hancock’s prodigious leap allowing him to send a glancing header across goal and into the net to make it 3-1.

Arbroath were still capable of providing a threat, and Fordyce had to be alert to deal with a quick free-kick on 49 minutes before Boruc did well to palm out a wicked Hancock cross three minutes later.

The Red Lichties got another goal on 54 minutes, a low cross between Airdrie’s goalkeeper and defence causing hesitancy at the back, and David Gold rushed in at the far post to bundle home.

Airdrie’s intensity increased once more, and Frizzell saw an effort deflected into Boruc’s arms before Megwa and McStravick linked well to force a 58th-minute corner.

Lyall and McStravick both went close around the hour mark, the former firing just over the bar before the latter’s angled strike skimmed agonisingly past the post.

Boruc saved a curling left-foot effort from Telfer before a bad foul by McKenna saw tempers flare. Airdrie punished the visitors in the best way possible by restoring their two-goal advantage, and this time it was Telfer who was alert to squeeze the ball home after Todorov’s close-range header had been stopped by an outstanding Boruc save.

The goalkeeper was keeping the scoreline down in the latter stages, and saved well from McStravick before getting his fingertips to a Telfer free-kick.

Craig Watson added Airdrie’s fifth on 77 minutes, and it was another good setpiece delivery which led to the goal, a lofted corner clearing the entire Arbroath defence and allowing the Diamonds defender to power home a back-post header.

Hancock saw a free-kick brilliantly saved with eight minutes remaining, and keeper Boruc was at it again two minutes later, denying Hibernian team-mate Josh O’Connor with a brave save.

Arbroath sub Innes Murray almost claimed the goal of the game with an outrageous angled effort struck with the outside of the boot, but had to watch on in frustration as the ball crashed off the upright.

It was the last action of an incident-packed game, and a good win for the Diamonds ahead of next week’s SPFL Trust Trophy final and a chance at silverware.

Stuart Mathie at Excelsior Stadium.

Photos © Redacted Media. Click to view full-size.

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