Saturday September 27, 2014
SPFL League One
Jamie Bain was the stoppage-time hero as Airdrie picked up their first league win in dramatic fashion.
It was top against bottom at Somerset Park and on this showing it was hard to recognise that such a gap existed coming into the fixture.
Jim Lister had an effort in the opening minute but could only fire wide of the target from inside the box.
Ayr’s first threat was in four minutes when a Murphy header was gathered by McNeil in the middle of his goal, with the keeper also saving from Slane in 13 minutes.
As the home side threatened in 14 minutes a Donald cross was punched away by McNeil. Murphy sent a header over the top of the Airdrie goal in 19 minutes.
Donald was unhappy with the tight rein O’Neil had on the winger, and after losing the ball to the defender in 21 minutes raced after him and was booked for his lunging tackle.
In 25 minutes a good combination with Boyle, Lister and Prunty saw the latter deliver a testing cross that Hutton took well.
A push on Boyle defending the ball at the far right goal line earned Ayr a corner. The delivery sailed to back post and Donnelly’s excellent overhead kick brought out a fine save from McNeil before the danger was cleared.
Airdrie deservedly took the lead on the half hour when good hold up play by Prunty was followed by him providing the ball wide right for Gray. His cross saw two Ayr defenders rise to attempt to head clear but get in each other’s way, and the ball fell nicely for Lister who blasted the ball into the net taking a deflection on the way.
4 minutes after scoring the opener Lister should have added a second goal. He collected a decent ball upfield, raced beyond the Ayr defence but his final shot at goal lacked power as Hutton gathered the low shot easily.
The big striker also had further chances in the 43rd and 44th minutes but saw his efforts either blocked or fail to find the target and after having really good chances to add to their lead in the closing quarter of an hour of the first half, had just that slender advantage at the interval.
The fear was that déjà vu from the Greenock display may kick in after the interval.
After McNeil conceded a corner in 51 minutes, the delivery saw some untidy defending by the Airdrie rearguard allowing Campbell the opportunity to knock home from inside the box.
And the concerns increased in the visiting support. Airdrie were keen to avoid a repeat and continued to provide a threat to Ayr.
In 52 minutes after good play from Richards-Everton on the left, his cross was knocked out to Gaparotto who controlled the ball on his chest then struck a fine volley that struck the crossbar on the way over the goalframe.
4 minutes later Watt was put into the penalty area by Lister’s pass but his shot was another that lacked power.
On the hour Devlin blasted the ball high over the top of McNeil’s goal after being presented with a decent chance in front of goal.
Airdrie were enjoying a real concerted spell of pressure after defender Campbell had been replaced in 62 minutes - as fellow central defender Murphy had also been replaced - and former Diamond McLaughlin went back to shore up the home defence.
With 13 minutes left Prunty linked with Watt but and his 20 yard curling shot was taken at the second attempt by Hutton after spilling the ball initially.
Thoughts of the Morton match returned when substitute Beattie was given space to drill Donnelly’s pass beyond McNeil with ten minutes left.
But Airdrie pushed the home side back in the closing stages and were rewarded in 87 minutes with an equaliser.
From Watt’s free kick Ayr tried in vain to clear, Proctor kept the ball alive by heading back across goal and Gasparotto challenged to force the ball for goal which crossed the line despite the best efforts of Hutton.
Bain then replace Gray in the 89th minute and as Airdrie pressed for a winner it came via the super sub who rose highest of all in the penalty box to head the ball powerfully past Hutton to win the match.
We had known the home support’s disappointment of losing a stoppage time goal only a week earlier.
John O'Brien at Somerset Park.
Photographs © Robert Dalzell. Click to view full size.