Saturday September 1, 2018
Ladbrokes League One
Leighton McIntosh 52
Joao Victoria 88
The Diamonds bounced back from last week's disappointment to collect all three points against Stranraer and move to within two points of the top of the table.
It was case of a number of players coming up against an old club with David Brownlie returning with Stranraer, while Scott Robertson and Grant Gallagher featured for the Diamonds having previously spent a long time with the Blues.
Leighton McIntosh and Joao Victoria scored the goals to separate the sides but it was the collective display that restricted the visitors to a few opportunities to record their first league shut-out of the season.
Stranraer started well in the opening period when Kyle Turner fired his shot wide of goal after four minutes, closely followed by shots on target from Luke Donnelly and the experienced Grant Anderson with both comfortably taken by Airdrie keeper David Hutton.
Stephen Farrell's men had also come to the Penny Cars Stadium on the back of a couple of clean sheets from their last two fixtures, a goalless draw at Forfar and 2-0 win over Montrose, and showed themselves to be resolute in defending, as Stevie Findlay’s side started to show their attacking side.
An excellent angled pass to Ryan Conroy inside the box saw the midfielder turn and sting the palms of keeper Max Currie on nine minutes, then Dale Carrick had a go from 20 yards a minute later but saw his shot wide right of Currie’s goal.
As Airdrie pushed the visitors back, Jonathan Page joined his attack for a free kick and saw his header deflected for a corner which came to nothing.
On the quarter-hour mark Carrick chased a ball into the box, backheeled the ball into the path of Victoria and only some desperate defending by Brownlie saw the shot on goal blocked and cleared away.
Three minutes later Stranraer reacted and in a dangerous break forward Chris McGowan fired in a shot which Hutton collected despite a deflection on the way.
McIntosh and Victoria showed a real understanding in 27 minutes to set up another chance, but once again from inside the box Victoria’s shot was blocked by the visitor’s backline.
Carrick then rose to meet a Conroy back-post cross and his 31st minute header looked netbound only for Currie to pluck the ball out of the air at the last minute.
Currie was holding the home side at bay as he went on to make further decent saves from McIntosh after good build-up play 12 minutes from the interval, then Carrick after the Diamonds had raced up the field on a counter attack just before the half-time whistle.
The second half was only seven minutes old when Page fired the ball down the left channel. The unselfish Carrick raced after the ball then evaded a challenge from skipper Jamie Hamill before carrying the ball into the box and sending it across the face of goal for McIntosh to score and put the home side in front.
Five minutes later McIntosh won possession and broke into the Stranraer box before laying the ball off for Victoria who was foiled once more by the Stranraer defence who blocked his shot.
McIntosh’s strength led to him controlling a long Scott Robertson ball in 67 minutes before racing to the edge of the box, but his shot was wide to the left of Currie’s goal.
Victoria went so close to scoring his side's second goal in 69 minutes when another good run provided him with a shot on goal inside the penalty area, but this time he had to watch as keeper Currie save with his outstretched foot before the ball was cleared.
Stranraer rang the changes in an effort to get back on level terms but the Diamonds were showing a confidence in possession of the ball.
With six minutes remaining Andrew MacDonald was red carded for a bad challenge on substitute Kieran Millar.
There was to be no repeat of the previous week, and with a minute left Victoria put the seal on the win when he danced through the Stranraer defence before firing the ball into the net from 10 yards out, sealing a pleasing result and display ahead of the Sutton United visit next Saturday.
John O'Brien at Penny Cars Stadium.
Photographs © John Steven. Click to view full size.