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Saturday December 1, 2018

Ladbrokes League One

Raith Rovers




Kevin Nisbet 7

Liam Buchanan 31


The Diamonds had plenty of possession at Stark's Park, but Raith's superior cutting edge meant the points stayed in Kirkcaldy.

Ian Murray's side travelled to Fife after three impressive wins, and the Airdrie boss named an unchanged starting line-up after last weekend's 3-0 William Hill Scottish Cup win over Dumbarton.

It was the Diamonds' first meeting with Raith since the appointment of John McGlynn as manager, and the Rovers full-time status and impressive home form made this a formidable task.

Airdrie started brightly, knocking the ball around with confidence in the opening five minutes. Dale Carrick tested former Airdrie loanee Robbie Thomson with a low drive from the edge of the box before a raking cross from Kieran MacDonald was knocked just wide by Darryl Duffy.

The home side opened the scoring with their first attack, Nathan Flanagan's quick throw freeing Kevin Nisbet down the left. Raith's top scorer ghosted past Jonathan Page before catching David Hutton out at his front post.

As the Diamonds regrouped, Leighton McIntosh showed great persistence in the box to make space before squaring across the six-yard box, but there were no takers with the goal gaping.

McIntosh went close with a header on 15 minutes before being tripped in the box five minutes later. Grant Gallagher fired the loose ball over the bar as the referee dismissed the penalty claim.

Thomson was well placed to gather Kyle Wilkie's headed effort midway through the first half, with Duffy sending a free kick straight at Thomson after Iain Davidson had been booked for a scything tackle on Carrick.

Having weathered the Diamonds pressure, Raith began to dominate around the half-hour mark, Grant Gillespie and Flanagan drawing saves from Hutton.

The home side's pressure paid off when former Airdrie striker Liam Buchanan doubled their advantage on 31 minutes. Again Airdrie's defence will feel they could have done better, appearing slow to react to Nisbet's head-flick which Buchanan knocked on before firing past Hutton from close range.

Raith had two more decent chances before the break, but Hutton denied Buchanan a second before Flanagan shot wide after some nice build-up play by the hosts.

Airdrie changed their shape at the interval as Ryan Conroy replaced Wilkie, and it allowed the Diamonds some more attacking pressure in the second half, but the hosts were happy to sit back on their lead.

Duffy watched as his curling effort from 25-yards went agonisingly wide on 50 minutes before finding the net five minutes later, but referee David Lowe pulled play back for a very soft foul.

McIntosh had Airdrie's best chance of the match on the hour-mark as Gallagher nodded a Conroy corner into the striker's path five yards out, but Thomson somehow got down to block the netbound effort.

Further Diamonds pressure followed, but Sean Crighton's overhead kick on 74 minutes was high and wide.

Thomson was on hand again to foil substitute Joao Victoria, touching the Portuguese forward's strike onto the post and behind with five minutes remaining.

A late McIntosh header went wide, and the final whistle signalled the end of Airdrie's winning run. Another showdown with Dumbarton lies ahead for the Diamonds, this time away from home on League One duty. 

Stuart Mathie at Stark's Park

Photographs © John Steven. Click to view full size.

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