Saturday March 15, 2014
SPFL League One
Jim Lister's headed goal secured a massive three points for Airdrie in tempestuous conditions at relegation rivals Arbroath.
The striker's first-half goal gave the Diamonds a lead which they were eventually left clinging on to as they played the final half hour with only ten men, following Caolan McAleer's straight red card.
It was a bright sunny day at Gayfield as the sides met in what Airdrie boss Gary Bollan had dubbed "a cup final", but a strong coastal wind buffetted the ground and at times threatened to ruin the match.
The Diamonds named the same starting XI and substitutes that took on Rangers on Wednesday night, while the home team included player-manager Paul Sheerin and ex-Airdrie midfielder Alan Cook.
The Red Lichties won the toss and elected to shoot against the wind in the first half, which saw the visitors attempt to stamp their authority early on.
It was Arbroath who made the most of early possession, although clear-cut chances were few and far between, Grant Adam proving equal to shots from Sheerin and Bobby Linn.
And Adam was almost an unlikely goalscorer himself, quickly taking a wind-assisted free kick from midway in the Airdrie half. The bounce beat his opposite number Sandy Wood, but the effort drifted just over the bar.
As the Diamonds came into the game, Caolan McAleer repeatedly found space down the right wing, and his 33rd minute cross-shot was deflected behind for a corner.
McAleer took the corner himself, and his near-post ball found Jim Lister, who bulleted his header past Wood to give the visitors the lead.
Arbroath came close to an equaliser early in the second half, Cook releasing Kevin Nicoll down the right, but Adam stood firm.
With the wind behind them, the home side were adopting a shoot-on-sight policy, and the crowd were shouting for a penalty twice in quick succession as Airdrie defenders threw themselves in front of balls in the box.
The Diamonds were dealt a blow on 63 minutes. Caolan McAleer rashly dived into a challenge in the centre circle, and it was no surprise when referee Iain Brines produced a red card.
The Smokies laid siege to Grant Adam's goal as they sought to impose their numerical advantage, but the goalkeeper was in no mood to concede as he produced top drawer saves to deny Sheerin, Linn and Paul McManus.
A McManus drive hit the bar with ten minutes remaining, before Adam almost gifted the striker an equaliser.
The goalkeeper slipped as he kicked from hand, and the ball landed at the feet of McManus 25 yards from goal. With Adam grounded, the striker had all the time in the world, but somehow lobbed over.
As the home side's frustrations grew, Jim Lister was holding the ball up well in the Diamonds' rare breaks upfield. With seconds remaining, defender Ricky Little kicked out at Lister and was shown a straight red card.
The Red Lichties finally had the ball in the net in stoppage time, but the goal was disallowed for a clear infringement on Adam, and the referee blew for full time immediately after.
Coupled with East Fife's loss at home to Ayr, the result sees Airdrie put daylight between them and the bottom two, moving four points clear of Arbroath and three clear of East Fife.
Stuart Mathie at Gayfield Park.
Photographs © Robert Dalzell. Click to view full size.