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Saturday January 14, 2017

Ladbrokes League One





Andy Ryan 26
Jack Leitch 89

East Fife

Jason Kerr 45
Ross Brown 74


Jack Leitch's late strike earned Airdrie a hard-fought point against the league's form side East Fife.

Scott Stewart returned to the Diamonds starting line up and turned in a man of the match display as Mark Wilson’s side ended Fife’s five match winning sequence in the league since Barry Smith took over.

Six minutes in Kieran MacDonald delivered a decent cross that threatened the visitor’s defence as it raced along the front of goal.

Airdrie took the lead on 26 minutes with one of their best worked goals of the season.

Stewart picked up the ball on the edge of his own penalty area before taking it to the halfway line, sending a great through ball to the feet of Adam Brown who wasted little time in picking out top scorer Andy Ryan wide right. The striker created space for himself before firing the ball into net off Mark Hurst's far post.

Five minutes from the interval another excellent run by Stewart from the right wing was followed by a powerful cross in for Ryan whose front-post header was just wide of the goal.

East Fife levelled almost on the half time whistle. Mark Lamont’s corner from the left was met by defender Jason Kerr who headed home. It was a blow for Airdrie, with the visitors having barely threatened Rohan Ferguson's goal before then.

In the opening minutes of the second half Ryan met a MacDonald cross that Hurst collected easily, while a Lamont shot from distance was similarly dealt with by Ferguson.

The Diamonds then had a dominant spell which saw them force five corners in quick succession, but the Fifers held firm thanks to some last gasp clearances.

Airdrie continued to threaten, but Adam Brown saw his netbound effort superbly saved by Hurst. For all their pressure they could not make that breakthrough, although a poor challenge on Stewart could easily have seen a penalty awarded.

East Fife substitute Kevin Smith made space for himself in 66 minutes then curled a 20 yard shot wide of goal, while at the other end a minute later Joe Gorman’s cross into the box saw Daniel Boateng head the ball over the bar.

The Diamonds were stunned in 74 minutes when a deep cross into the box from James Penrice led to Ross Brown heading the ball beyond Rohan Ferguson to put Barry Smith's men in front against the run of play.

The visitors looked to run down the clock after taking the lead, but Airdrie were pressing them back and should have levelled in 82 minutes. Ryan delivered a cross from the left and substitute Jack McKay was unable to make clean contact while Jack Leitch’s follow up was blocked for a corner.

Both players were involved a minute from time when Leitch scored to level the match.

The visitors were unable to clear a ball into the box and a well-placed cutback by McKay saw the ex-Motherwell midfielder force the ball over the line for a share of the points.

With Alloa Athletic losing, it took Airdrie level on points with the Wasps in second spot.

John O'Brien at New Broomfield.

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

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