Saturday April 18, 2015
SPFL League One
McHugh 79, 86
Airdrie did exactly what was required to stay in with a shout of the last promotion play-off place by beating Ayr United at New Broomfield.
In a day when one part of Lanarkshire was celebrating as Albion Rovers clinched the League Two title, the Diamonds can thank on-loan Motherwell striker Bob McHugh for his goals in an otherwise uneventful affair.
The Honest Men had most of the first half chances and they will be disappointed to have missed out on them, having finished the day in the relegation play-off place by goal difference alone.
The best of these came 13 minutes in when goalkeeper Andy McNeil failed to deal with a cross leaving Brian Gilmour to collect it in the box. He squared the ball to Jordan Preston whose shot was cleared off the line by Liam Lindsay.
Gilmour was the source of many of Ayr's attacks in the first 45 and shortly after he crossed the ball into the box only for it to be clipped by the foot of Airdrie's stand-in captain Marc Fitzpatrick.
Luckily for him, McNeil caught the ball to save any blushes while referee Craig Charleston waved away the visitor's optimistic shouts for a pass-back.
More good play from Gilmour and Preston gave Craig Murray the chance to shoot as well on the half hour mark but his chance was deflected.
One of Airdrie's better chances in the half was created by a mazy run from Chris O'Neil, replacing Paddy Boyle, as he played in Jordan Morton however the shot went side.
Two minutes into the second half Morton turned creator for what was the best chance of the game so far. His cross was swung in from the left and met by the head of Ross Docherty who somehow managed to put it wide, much to the disbelief of the home fans.
Bryan Prunty twice hit the wrong side of the net with Scott Fraser getting forward more to help out the strikers.
After his short attacking display in the first half O'Neil then had to put his best defensive foot forward 20 minutes into the second half.
A ball through to Preston left the Ayr striker racing with O'Neil back towards goal with the youngster looking to time his challenge and not risk conceding a goal or a card.
O'Neil managed to just edge off Preston at the last moment when he got his shot away as it skimmed past McNeil's left post for Ayr's biggest chance to take the lead.
After an uneventful ten minutes Fraser then curved a ball towards goal but it came off David Hutton's left post and back out to be cleared by Scott McKenna.
Two minutes later he was more fortunate though, with a counter attacking move giving Fraser enough space to run forward and play McHugh through as he slotted the ball past Hutton for the opener.
McHugh was looking for a second and his free-kick shortly after just went wide.
Five minutes later Fraser crossed in from the right in another set piece which was gloriously met by the head of McHugh leaving Hutton unable to stop Airdrie doubling their lead.
Minutes from the end McHugh was unbelievably denied his hat-trick. Substitute Scott Gray bombed down the right and into the box when he squared the ball to McHugh who cooly passed the ball through Hutton's legs.
However somehow the ball didn't cross the line and was cleared away by the defence leaving McHugh without the match ball.
Airdrie now face a mammoth trip up to Peterhead before taking on Dunfermline in the last day of the season, requiring the maximum six points and needing Brechin City to lose against Stenhousemuir away next week and title-chasing Greenock Morton on May 2.
Even if the Diamonds don't go up, they'll at least have another four Monklands Derby matches to look forward to next season.
Douglas Barrie at New Broomfield.
Photographs © Robert Dalzell. Click to view full size.