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Saturday August 6, 2016

Ladbrokes League One

Queen's Park




Marc Fitzpatrick 82 OG


Iain Russell 29 Pen
Marc Fitzpatrick 51
Adam Brown 90


Goals from Iain Russell, Marc Fitzpatrick and Adam Brown got Airdrie's league campaign off to a winning start at Hampden.

You have to go back to August 2012 when a John Boyle hat trick helped the Diamonds enjoy their opening league fixture of the season with a win after they beat Dumbarton. Ironically a week earlier Queens Park had delivered a 3-2 League Cup k.o. to Airdrieonians, the last time the Spiders and the Diamonds came face to face before this season.

Both sides had key players missing with Andy Ryan and Scott Burns suspended for the match. Clearance for Daniel Boateng was not through in time while former Motherwell midfielder Jack Leitch was listed in the Diamonds starting line up as a trialist.

Just as they had done in the Betfred group match the home side started with purpose and almost took the lead in the first minute. Darren Miller reacted to a Marc Fitzpatrick mishit and picked out Aiden Malone who carried the forward and from 30 yards out clipped the ball over Rohan Ferguson against the crossbar.

A flurry of challenges led to bookings for Iain Russell and Joe Gorman while Queens’ Paul Woods went unpunished for a poor challenge on Ryan Conroy.

The home side had a great chance to take the lead in 17 minutes after a cutback inside the penalty area was controlled by Wood who made space for himself then drilled a low shot to Ferguson’s right hand side, but the keeper was equal to it and pushed past his right hand post.

Queens were enjoying the bulk of possession and were taking the game to their visitors while not being able to provide a cutting edge in the final third.

Against the run of play the Diamonds opened the scoring in one of their first real ventures around the Queens’ goal. A Conroy shot from 30 yards out was blocked and the ball stopped almost on the penalty spot. Russell raced in to collect the ball and was taken down by keeper Andrew Murphy with referee David Lowe pointing to the spot. Russell dispatched the ball past Murphy to his right post comfortably with 29 minutes gone.

The goal provided Airdrie with a foothold in the game and stunned the home side, as they lost their early sparkle while Kevin McBride’s men looked to offer more with a couple of counter attacking moves that came to nothing.

As the second half got under way it was apparent the Airdrie players had been on the end of some harsh words as they were quicker in everything they did after the restart. In 50 minutes Conroy hit an excellent crossfield pass, picking out Scott Stewart who powered into the box and only a timely challenge from Adam Cummins sent the ball for a corner. From Conroy's cross in 51 minutes, skipper Fitzpatrick rose unchallenged to head the ball past Murphy and double the advantage.

Airdrie were a different outfit to the side that went in at the break. Stewart sent over a cross that Murphy gathered a minute later while Adam Brown’s 25 yard shot soon after was on target but well taken by Murphy.

The Diamonds should have sealed the points in 58 minutes when Jack Leitch’s ball over the home defence saw Kevin Schmidt beat the offside trap, but after racing into the box the Dutch striker could only fire the ball against Murphy’s near post and wide of the goal.

On the hour mark Miller had sight of the Airdrie goal but fired the ball straight at Ferguson.

Queen's boss Gus McPherson made changes and Airdrie almost gave the home side a chance with a short pass back that had Ferguson desperately clearing the ball.

As the clocked ticked down, with a two goal lead, the fluency in the Airdrie passing was lost and some of their clearances only led to the home side coming back at them without providing a real threat.

Then just as had been the case in the cup tie, Queen's were given a lifeline. Ferguson ushered the ball away after Miller had fired in a 20-yard effort in 81 minutes. The margin was reduced to one goal after Josh Watt’s corner ended up in the Diamonds' net, Fitzpatrick getting the final touch to send it over the line.

Substitute Ewan McPherson had Ferguson scrambling to push a headed effort on then over the crossbar in 85 minutes, while with two minutes remaining Cummins followed a Miller cross into the penalty box, stooping to head past the post.

As Airdrie went close to snatching a draw from the jaws of victory, in stoppage time a long ball forward saw Russell challenge Ryan McGeever with the ball breaking to Brown. The midfielder struck the ball firmly into the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season.

Substitute Murray Loudon went close in stoppage time, racing in behind the home defence but seeing his chipped shot on target well taken by Murphy.

A decent three points from the national stadium as other sides will visit and leave with nothing.

John O'Brien at Hampden Park.

Photographs © Robert Dalzell. Click to view full-size.

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