Saturday April 16, 2016
Ladbrokes League One
Alan Lithgow and Jim Lister were Airdrie's first-half goal heroes in a confident display against Forfar Athletic.
It was the Diamonds' second win at Station Park this season as they produced an extremely workmanlike performance against their relegation-threatened opponents to take all three points and pull level with neighbours Albion Rovers.
There were similarities to the win at Forfar in November, as once more Alan Lithgow set his side on the road to their win with the opening goal, while it was also the first half display that led to yet another away win.
The significant difference this time was the hard earned clean sheet and solid defensive defensive that did not allow the home side even a slight possibility of getting back into the match.
As the match started Forfar were looking to make a mark early on, but speculative efforts from Steven Craig and Scott Smith, who had been on loan with Airdrieonians earlier in the season, were both off target.
It was Airdrie who took the lead in ten minutes. A Nicky Cadden corner was headed for goal by Sean Crighton and cleared off the line, but Alan Lithgow rose to head the ball powerfully back into the right hand side of the net for the opening goal.
Airdrie looked to build on their lead with Crighton heading wide of the target in 12 minutes and Cadden firing wide of goal three minutes later after a Lithgow throw was headed clear.
Scott Stewart was making some deep surging runs forward supporting Jim Lister and Dylan Mackin who were linking well.
Full backs Jamie Bain and Kieran MacDonald were snapping into challenges as well as helping the side going forward with decent overlapping runs.
Forfar keeper Darren Hill was doing well, taking a MacDonald curling cross inside his six yard box in 32 minutes, then collecting Cadden’s free kick five minutes later.
Craig should have done better from Kerr Hay’s cross in 39 minutes, heading wide of Neil Parry’s goal to his left.
Two minutes from the interval the second goal came, and went a long way to ending the home side’s hopes.
The home side were finding it difficult to break through the Diamonds and Bain and Stewart combined to put Lister racing into the final third of the field before calmly lobbing the ball over Hill into the back of the net.
After the break it looked more likely that Airdrie would add to their lead.
In 50 minutes, Hill’s free kick was returned quickly upfield by Stewart with Lister racing on to the ball, but the striker was unfortunate to fire wide of goal.
Two minutes later Cadden's 30 yard shot with the wind at his back stung Hill’s hands.
Lister was next up, his 55th minute shot saved by Hill, while MacDonald drilled a low 30-yard effort just wide minutes later.
Home substitute Martyn Fotheringham was lucky to only see a yellow card for a dangerous challenge on Hugo Faria in 73 minutes.
As the clock ran down Forfar were running out of ideas and their closest call to a goal came in the closing stages when a corner by Gavin Swankie saw the ball cleared off the line.
With an impressive win for Stranraer keeping them in the play-off driving seat, Airdrie's win appears to ensure another four Monklands derbies on the horizon next season - though the fighting spirit on display today will have encouraged the travelling fans.
John O'Brien at Station Park.
Photographs © Stuart Mathie. Click to view full-size.