Saturday December 3, 2016
Ladbrokes League One
Nicky Riley 32
Leighton McIntosh 85 Pen
Andy Ryan 13, 90+3
Sean McIntosh 14
Iain Russell 19
A blistering start at Balmoor was enough to see the Diamonds extend their winning streak to six league games.
A late surge from the home side made things a little uncomfortable for those Airdrie fans who had made the long trip north, but in the end the Lanarkshire men were comfortable winners and should perhaps have scored more.
Loanee Kyle Hutton made his debut in midfield for the Diamonds, with Scott Stewart dropping out of the squad altogether.
Leighton McIntosh led the line for Peterhead in the absence of suspended talisman Rory McAllister. Former Airdrie players Jamie Stevenson and Nathan Blockley were also handed starting roles.
It was Jim McInally's men who made the brighter start, Scott Brown shooting straight at Rohan Ferguson before Nicky Riley danced through the Diamonds defence and seemed certain to score, but Daniel Boateng popped up to shepherd the ball back to Ferguson.
It was dry and mild in the north-east, but overcast conditions had seen the floodlights turned on from the start of the match. When the lights went out after twelve minutes, referee Alan Newlands was content to continue in the fading daylight.
Suddenly the visitors sparked to life, and three clinical attacks in seven minutes gave Mark Wilson's side a superb early lead.
Andy Ryan was first to get his name on the scoresheet, latching on to a pass from strike partner Iain Russell to slot home a trademark calm finish.
Only a minute later it was 2-0 to Airdrie, and Sean McIntosh was on hand to claim his first senior goal.
A corner from the right ricocheted in the direction of Joe Gorman, and the big defender nodded the ball back to McIntosh who steered his header beyond Peterhead keeper Graeme Smith to double the advantage.
The home side looked shell-shocked and the Diamonds took full advantage as strike partners Ryan and Russell combined again on 19 minutes.
A wonderful passing move down the left freed Ryan and after edging ahead in the scoring charts, the hitman drew the keeper and unselfishly picked out Russell to pass the ball into an empty net.
With their side rampant on the pitch, Diamonds fans started to voice their concerns over the floodlight situation as the daylight faltered.
However, minutes after the third went in, the lights came back on - greeted by a cheer almost as loud as those for the goals.
Airdrie's pressure showed no signs of letting up, and Andy Ryan could have doubled his tally on 26 minutes, but Smith tipped his drive over the bar.
Peterhead got one back six minutes later after Simon Ferry forced his way into the box and drew a good save from Ferguson, but Riley was on hand to rifle the rebound into the roof of the net.
The Diamonds came roaring out of the traps in the second half, the impressive Kieran MacDonald charging down the left wing and squaring for Ryan, but the striker's run was matched and he couldn't get enough on the effort to trouble Smith.
MacDonald himself had a go eight minutes later, combining with fellow defender Gorman before sending a curling effort over the crossbar.
Airdrie keeper Ferguson made a fine save from a Brown effort on 55 minutes, before counterpart Smith again showed his worth by tipping Daniel Boateng's close range header over.
The Peterhead number one was in no mood to concede again, and he denied Adam Brown on the hour mark, turning the midfielder's fierce effort round the post.
The Blue Toon started throwing bodies forward in an effort to salvage something from the match, and referee Newlands awarded a penalty after some barging in a crowded box on 64 minutes.
Kevin Dzierzawski stepped up to take the kick, but Ferguson made a sensational save to deny the substitute.
Peterhead continued to pile forward, and Leighton McIntosh should have scored when he found himself unmarked ten yards out, but the striker fired over when it looked easier to score.
With five minutes remaining McIntosh made amends, scoring from the penalty spot after a soft-looking award.
It ensured a nervy final five minutes for the Diamonds faithful, made worse when substitute Kevin Schmidt somehow scooped over from five yards with two minutes remaining. Ryan, who was free at the far post, gave his team-mate an earful.
Ryan Conroy sent a free kick wide of the target in the final minute before Ryan put the result beyond doubt in stoppage time.
A swift counter down the left found Schmidt unmarked in the box and this time, his ears no doubt still ringing, he cut back for Ryan to slot home.
A late Livingston winner stopped the Diamonds from topping the league, but the travelling support made the long journey home with smiles on their faces.
Stuart Mathie at Balmoor Stadium.
Photographs © John Steven. Click to view full-size.