Saturday December 24, 2016
Ladbrokes League One
Scott Agnew 22
Adam Brown 10
Andy Ryan 77
Goals from Adam Brown and Andy Ryan ensured Airdrie finished 2016 in winning style with a well earned 2-1 win at Stranraer.
The Diamonds got back to winning ways at Stair Park to send the small but vociferous band of Airdrie fans home with the ideal Christmas present in the shape of three points.
Top scorer Ryan returned to the starting line-up in place of the suspended Iain Russell, while Scott Stewart replaced Kevin Schmidt in midfield, allowing Daniel Boateng to resume his central defensive role as Sean McIntosh moved to right back.
Brian Reid had selection problems with injuries and suspensions hitting his Stranraer squad, but the ever-dangerous Willie Gibson and Scott Agnew provided a threat for the Blues.
It was the home side who threatened first with Gibson dancing into the box from the left, but Joe Nuttall was unable to connect at the far post.
Ryan replied with a drive from the edge of the box for Airdrie, but his effort was slightly high and wide.
The Diamonds were beginning to probe at Stranraer's stuffy defence, and Adam Brown gave his side the lead on ten minutes as he cut along the 18-yard line to find space and hammered the ball low past Blues keeper Cammy Belford.
Rohan Ferguson was in the right place to gather a deflected cross nine minutes later as the ball bounced awkwardly off Boateng.
The Blues equalised four minutes later, however, and it was a cute reverse pass from the impressive Nuttall which set Agnew bearing down on goal. The striker kept his composure to slot past the outrushing Ferguson.
Andy Ryan looked in the mood for Airdrie, and Belford did well to claw his header behind for a corner on 29 minutes. Two minutes later the hitman pirouetted in the centre circle to give himself a run on goal, but Stranraer's English keeper was equal to it again, blocking with his feet this time.
Nuttall had the last attempt of the half for the home side, but his speculative effort was well off target.
The Blues started the second half brightly, Agnew testing Ferguson early on.
Ryan had a gilt-edged chance to put his side back on front just after the hour mark, but his curling effort went agonisingly over the bar.
The width of the post denied Brown shortly after, his angled piledriver cannoning off the upright.
With 13 minutes remaining, Ryan got his goal and it was a moment of magic from Jack Leitch for the assist. The midfielder, who had shown some nice touches throughout, lifted the ball over Stranraer left back Liam Dick and span round the defender to collect it before squaring for Ryan. Belford got something on the initial effort, but the Diamonds marksman's reactions were quick as he slotted home to send the travelling fans into raptures.
Scott Stewart almost added another with ten minutes remaining, bursting down the right and sending over a cross-cum-shot which Blues skipper Frank McKeown did well to head off the line.
McKeown recovered well to tackle Ryan as he bore down on goal on 84 minutes, and the Airdrie striker was involved again as a ball over the top left him one-on-one with Belford. The linesman raised his flag to indicate an offside, but the Stranraer keeper charged out of his box and flattened Ryan. He was perhaps fortunate to receive only a caution from referee Gavin Ross.
Ryan left the park to a standing ovation as Kevin Schmidt came on in stoppage time, and there was no further scoring.
With Livingston losing at home to Queen's Park, the win saw the gap at the top reduced to seven points as Mark Wilson's men go into 2017 as serious promotion contenders.
Stuart Mathie at Stair Park.
Photographs © John Steven. Click to view full-size.