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April 2, 2024

cinch Championship





Jay Bird 90+1


Callum Fordyce 72
Gabby McGill 81


Airdrie moved back into the promotion play-off slots with a comfortable win over Arbroath as two experienced campaigners grabbed the goals for a side packed with young talent.

As Rhys McCabe rotated his squad amid a packed fixture schedule, Josh O’Connor, Adam Frizzell, and Charlie Telfer made way for Cammy Ballantyne, Chris Donnell and Lewis McGregor, bringing the average age of the starting XI down to just 23.

As is often the case on the Angus coast, conditions were far from ideal with a swirling rain falling on Gayfield for the duration of the 90 minutes, but there was almost a bright start for the Diamonds when Arbroath worked the ball back to keeper Max Boruc straight from kick-off. The on-loan Hibs stopper passed straight to Arron Lyall, but redeemed himself by getting back in time to stop the midfielder’s shot.

Both sides attacked down the flanks in the early stages, with ex-Diamond Scott Stewart denied by Ballantyne before the Airdrie captain almost found McGregor with a searching tenth-minute pass.

Lyall was back helping his defence with a good sliding challenge two minutes later, and Boruc was out his box quickly to clear from McGregor on 18 minutes as the Diamonds began to take control.

Robbie Hemfrey confidently held Stewart’s header midway through the first half, and on 25 minutes Airdrie were the width of the post away from opening the scoring, McGregor riding a couple of heavy challenges before dinking the ball goalward, but Boruc got enough of a touch to see it on to the woodwork.

Arbroath went close with a 26th-minute setpiece after Mason Hancock had been booked for the softest of fouls, and the Diamonds defender saw a whipped free-kick nodded over the bar by an Arbroath defender three minutes later, only for referee Dan McFarlane to award a goal-kick.

Nikolay Todorov saw a back-post finish ruled out by the offside flag on 34 minutes in a carbon-copy of the goal denied to Calum Gallagher in the first Gayfield fixture, but the Bulgarian striker felt he was well onside when he met Hancock’s cross.

As Airdrie turned the screw Boruc dived full length to keep out a Lyall effort on 37 minutes.

Despite the away side’s increasing dominance, Arbroath were handed a gilt-edged opportunity to take the lead five minutes before half-time. Despite Kanayo Megwa clearly pulling out of a challenge on the edge of the box, Adam MacKinnon’s theatrical tumble was enough to convince the referee to point to the spot.

After squabbling with Michael McKenna over who was taking the kick, former Airdrie striker Leighton McIntosh stepped up, and although his penalty was well-struck, Hemfrey got down to his left with a strong hand to parry the strike.

Airdrie attacked the second half with renewed vigour, and the impressive Dean McMaster was desperately unlucky not to open the scoring two minutes in, his 25-yard effort dipping at the last minute and crashing off the top of the bar.

Boruc denied Lyall at the near post on 49 minutes, and a good old-fashioned scramble in the box was eventually hoofed clear two minutes later.

As the Diamonds introduced more experience from the bench, Megwa spurned a 62nd-minute chance to shoot as he danced across the six-yard box, and Hancock’s cross-shot a minute later ended up as neither and flashed past the post.

Adam Frizzell combined with fellow sub Charlie Telfer on 70 minutes, but the midfielder was stretching to meet the cross and could only cushion the ball back to Boruc.

Telfer’s delivery resulted in the opening goal a minute later, a dipping corner from the Airdrie left just too high for Hancock, but a perfectly-timed run from Callum Fordyce allowed him to meet the ball in the middle of the goal, heading down and through the legs of Boruc for his third goal of the season.

Good defending from Craig Watson denied his old team an instant fightback, and Calum Gallagher was twice denied on the line on 78 minutes before McMaster blazed the loose ball just over the bar.

Gabby McGill saw a glancing header blocked on the line on 81 minutes, and just as Airdrie were wondering how they were only a goal ahead, the Yorkshireman added the second, raising his left foot to turn home a delightful scooped cross from Frizzell after strong running from Gallagher.

Arbroath continued to push down the flanks, but Hemfrey’s handling was sound as crosses came in from either side.

The home side did get one back in stoppage time, Jay Bird’s free-kick taking a deflection off the defensive wall and deceiving Hemfrey, who was unlucky not to keep the ball out as he instinctively swung a boot.

The last chance fell to Gallagher in the dying seconds, but Boruc was equal to the speculative effort and the game ended 2-1 to the visitors.

The result sees Airdrie leapfrog Dunfermline and Morton into fourth spot, with a home game against the Greenock men next up for the Diamonds.

Stuart Mathie at Gayfield Park.

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

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