Saturday September 17, 2011
Irn Bru SFL Division 2
AIRDRIE'S Jekyll & Hyde start to the season continued as they proved unable to take last week's derby form into today's match against league leaders Arbroath.
With Paul McKane picking up a knock in training during the week, manager Jimmy Boyle drafted in trialist goalkeeper Connor Fairley, a former Hearts and Celtic youth player. Also forced to miss out through injury was Ally Woodburn, with Graeme Owens taking his place.
Early-season pacesetters Arbroath looked to stamp their home advantage on the tie early on, with high balls for their pacy strikers being mopped up by Lilley and Stallard, but it only took the Red Lichties six minutes to find the breakthrough.
Kieran McAnespie surged forward down the left and played the ball in to Doris on the edge of the box, who held off Lilley's challenge and returned the one-two. McAnespie drove the return pass into the Airdrie net.
It was almost two a minute later, a cross from the right almost deceiving Fairley in the Airdrie goal, but the keeper did well to get back and tip it over the bar.
It took Airdrie around twenty minutes to find their feet, but Arbroath defended stoutly, good cross balls from Nathan Blockley and Jamie Bain both finding Holmes crowded out in the box.
But for all the Diamonds were starting to come into the match, Arbroath still looked capable of increasing their lead, and would have done so after 32 minutes if Swankie's point-blank header hadn't been straight at the goalkeeper.
Minutes later McAnespie found himself in a position similar to that which he had scored from, but this time he dragged his shot across the face of the Airdrie goal. The ball found its way back to him at the far post, but he headed just wide.
After the break Airdrie looked to take the game to the hosts, and Nathan Blockley carved a good chance out for himself just after the restart, heading a high ball past the Arbroath defender, then rounding him to get a good volley in which was saved by Hill who spread himself well.
With Fraser Keast replacing Jamie Stevenson at half time, the Diamonds were starting to attack with pace down the right flank, and Keast earned a corner in 60 minutes from which Kieran Stallard shot just wide.
The sucker punch came in the 63rd minute, with Arbroath doubling their lead against the run of play. Player-manager Paul Sheerin had a low drive well saved by Fairley, but from the resulting corner Steven Doris headed home unmarked.
Airdrie continued to attack the Arbroath goal, and were awarded a free kick just outside the box after a tug on Derek Holmes. Up stepped Graeme Owens, who rifled the ball home.
Inspired by this, the Diamonds started taking more risks in search of an equaliser, and a Jamie Bain cross almost sneaked in at the far post, before Kieran Stallard knocked a Holmes flick on over the bar when it looked easier to score.
A 40 yard Nathan Blockley piledriver was well gathered by Hill, and it was starting to look like it just wasn't going to be Airdrie's day. This was compounded in the final minute, when Arbroath cleared an Airdrie corner, and with the Diamonds throwing everything forward, the excellent Swankie found himself racing clear of the defence. He showed good composure to lift the ball over the onrushing Fairley, and the home victory was sealed.
Stuart Mathie at Gayfield.
Photograph © Stuart Mathie. Click to view full size.