Saturday March 18, 2017
Ladbrokes League One
Iain Russell 56
Iain Russell bagged a sixteenth goal of the season as a strong second half display saw the Diamonds take all three points after defeating Stenhousemuir for the first time in the league campaign.
Andy Ryan had dropped to the bench having failed a fitness test but was not called upon as the home side controlled the game from the moment they took the lead.
The first half offered precious few breakthrough moments for either side as the Airdrieonians defensive five virtually nullified any attacking options the visitors tried out.
The Warriors were awarded a free kick after 18 minutes when Joe Gorman was deemed to have been pulling a jersey and Alan Cook’s curling free kick from the right went around the two-man wall though the ball was pushed away by Rohan Ferguson who was alert to the shot.
Three minutes later an excellent run by Iain Russell took him down the left wing and his drilled front post cross picked out Adam Brown. The midfielder's shot was on target, but on form Stenhousemuir keeper David Crawford reacted well to turn the ball away.
10 minutes from the interval Scott Stewart powered down the right then delivered a far post cross that Kieran MacDonald headed back in and Russell’s header lacked the power to beat Crawford who turned the ball away for a corner.
The second half was dominated by Airdrieonians with the only surprise being that they only found the net once, creating chance after chance but only converting one.
Russell had a great opportunity to break the deadlock in 52 minutes when MacDonald’s cross from the left picked him out inside the box but his contact lacked the power to threaten Crawford’s goal.
His next effort was certainly not lacking power and came in the 56th minute. A Ryan Conroy corner picked out Gorman and the central defender’s header was net bound until keeper Crawford pulled off a decent stop but Russell was on his toes to lash the ball into the net from inside the box.
Jack Leitch and Brown combined well on the right with the latter sending in a cross that saw Russell try an overhead kick but sent the ball wide of the target.
Mason Robertson had the ball in the net on 65 minutes but saw his effort ruled offside.
Leitch went close to adding a second goal in 67 minutes when he struck a 20-yard volley that clipped Crawford’s left post and went wide.
A minute later Brown’s free kick to the back post saw Russell cushion the ball back into the middle only for an inrushing Gorman to send the ball wide of the goal from ten yards out.
As Airdrie continued to look for that second goal, Kyle Hutton went on a good run in 74 minutes before sliding the ball to Brown and his shot brought out another decent save by Crawford.
The under pressure visitors conceded a free kick a minute later and Brown’s delivery put Jordan McGregor in behind the opposition but he was unable to make good contact when faced with the goal in front of him.
10 minutes remained when Crawford made another fine save, this time from defender Stewart who had got into the penalty box.
With six minutes left Stenhousemuir’s defender David Marsh kicked out at Russell and was shown a straight red card.
The Diamonds continued their profligacy until the final minute after good interplay between Brown and Hutton providing the midfield with a chance to beat Crawford but his connection simply sent a grounded effort in for Crawford to gather the ball comfortably.
In the end one goal was enough to pull level on 42 points with the two sides above.
John O'Brien at New Broomfield.
Photographs © John Steven. Click to view full-size.