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May 3, 2024

cinch Championship

Queen's Park




Ruari Paton 26
Liam McLeish 82



Queen’s Park ensured Championship survival with a home win over the Diamonds, who rang the changes with one eye on Tuesday’s Premiership Play-Off quarter-final.

There were no fewer than six alterations to the line-up which drew 0-0 with Dundee United a week ago, with run-outs for Aaron Taylor-Sinclair, Josh O’Connor and Calum Gallagher, while Cammy Ballantyne, Adam Frizzell and Murray Aiken made their returns from injury.

Mason Hancock, Dean McMaster, Kanayo Megwa, Craig Watson, Charlie Telfer and Gabby McGill were the players to drop out of the starting XI.

Queen’s Park, who needed to equal or better Inverness CT’s result, attacked from the off and tested player-coach Taylor-Sinclair with positive early involvements from Josh Scott and Cillian Sheridan.

Airdrie continued to impose their quick passing style on the match despite the wholesale changes, and a neat interchange between Gallagher and Arron Lyall almost ended with the latter in on goal, but Calum Ferrie was alert to the danger and intercepted.

Sheridan and Dom Thomas were linking well upfront for the Spiders, and it took a fantastic Ballantyne block to deny the pair on 15 minutes before Sheridan tried an audacious lob a minute later, but Robbie Hemfrey had the goal covered as the ball landed on the roof of his net.

O’Connor saw a vicious effort deflect away from the target before Aiken broke up a Queen’s Park attack with a sliding interception on 19 minutes, with Gallagher then unlucky not to get on the end of a Lewis McGregor cross after starting a flowing attack.

The home side took the lead on 26 minutes, Aiken blindsided by Sheridan’s challenge as the Diamonds played out from the back, and Ruari Paton took possession and cut across the box before curling a good finish around Taylor-Sinclair and Hemfrey.

Ten minutes of Airdrie dominance followed the opening goal, but the Diamonds lacked the penetration to match their possession.

The first half fizzled out, with a booking for Frizzell the only incident of note in a dull final spell.

Sheridan was once again pulling the strings as Queen’s Park pushed for a second after the restart, firing wide on 49 minutes before sliding a pass to the unmarked Paton two minutes later, but on this occasion Hemfrey denied the striker with a brave point-blank save.

Frizzell went close with a curling 53rd-minute effort, and as the hosts broke upfield Aiken once again defended well in his unfamiliar full-back role.

Hemfrey fielded a free-kick just before the hour mark, with the Queens defence equal to Airdrie’s break as Frizzell and Gallagher combined.

A quadruple substitution for the Diamonds saw Megwa, Hancock and Elliot Dunlop introduced, alongside Ally Spalding who made his league debut.

Megwa was in action straight away, blocking a powerful Paton effort before Ferrie was off his line sharply to clear Gallagher’s pass before O’Connor could pounce.

The Queens keeper denied O’Connor twice more, catching a curling cross which looked like it might sneak in under the crossbar on 69 minutes, and beating the striker to the loose ball after he had spilled Lewis McGregor’s long-range effort six minutes later.

Dunlop’s 76th-minute volley was wide of the target, and Ferrie kept out a Chris Donnell header as Airdrie enjoyed a spell of pressure with 12 minutes remaining.

It was the hosts who would double their lead with 82 minutes on the clock, substitute Liam McLeish finding space for a shot on the edge of the box with a wicked deflection diverting the ball away from Hemfrey.

Paton was lucky to remain on the pitch after a kick on Craig Watson following an 86th-minute foul by the Airdrie substitute, and the game ended with Ferrie punching out a Dunlop cross and Louis Longridge seeing a strike deflected over the bar.

Job done for Callum Davidson’s men, who can now look forward to another season in the Championship, while the Diamonds turn their attention to the play-offs and their prize of top-flight football.

Stuart Mathie at Hampden Park.

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

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