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Wednesday May 10, 2017

Ladbrokes Championship Play-off Semi-Final, First Leg





Andy Ryan 52

Alloa Athletic


Andy Ryan was once again the Airdrie hero as the Diamonds dominated Alloa in the play-off semi-final at New Broomfield.

Mark Wilson's men take a single goal advantage to Alloa for Saturday's second leg after a thrilling 90 minutes of attacking football.

It was a real test for the Diamonds to break down the visitors and eventually top scorer Ryan was the man to break the deadlock.

After two minutes Scott Stewart’s pass from the right picked out Iain Russell on the edge of the box and his turn allowed him to send in a flash effort for goal just past Neil Parry’s left post.

A minute later Calum Waters was able to run into the penalty box and send a shot on target, but Rohan Ferguson’s reactions saw him make a fine save low to his right.

On 11 minutes Adam Brown tried an angled shot from the corner of the penalty box which was just off target.

The continuing willingness of Andy Ryan to chase every ball saw him rob Graeme Holmes in 14 minutes then race for goal before sending a low powerful shot that Parry took well.

Kieran MacDonald impressed with his tireless running down the left, and with 17 minutes played his powerful cross from the left was volleyed for goal by Brown with Parry making an excellent diving save to push away the ball.

Some nice passing play in 20 minutes saw a number of players keep possession of the ball but not getting a shot away when the chance prevailed.

Ryan was once again thwarted by former Diamond Parry in 29 minutes after taking Stewart’s pass and turning his marker then sending another shot at goal that the keeper collected.

With seven minutes of the half remaining Brown fired wide of goal after good link up play with MacDonald, while a good run by Kevin Cawley in 42 minutes was followed by a decent shot wide to the left of Ferguson’s goal.

After the restart it was the home side who continued to take the game to the visitors in an effort to break the deadlock. Ryan Conroy picked out Ryan on the 50-minute mark with a great ball only to send his header lack power and go easily to Parry.

Three minutes later the same combination provided the opening goal. Joe Gorman's threaded ball down the left was followed by a great cross from Conroy, and Ryan outjumped Wasps centre back Frank McKeown to head the ball into the net.

Kyle Hutton’s run in 70 minutes into the box on to Brown’s through ball saw the midfielder’s cross deflected back to Parry who gathered the ball on the goal line.

Brown made a superb run into the space that opened up for him in 74 minutes and after reaching the edge of the box, forced Parry into making another decent save as he punched clear.

In the latter stages of the match a well marshalled Airdrie rear guard looked comfortable under Simon Mensing’s direction, while Ferguson had shown the assurance that had made him such a top prospect.

The final quarter of an hour lacked any real threat from either side, to leave Airdrieonians a goal to the good ahead of the second leg, while yet another meeting of the two sides ended with just a single goal between them.

The margins remain small between the sides, while the other semi-final tie also hangs in the balance as Brechin City and Raith Rovers could not be separated after the first leg.

John O'Brien at New Broomfield.

Photographs © John Steven. Click to view full-size.

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