Saturday August 4, 2018
Ladbrokes League One
Dale Hilson 41
Ryan Conroy 80
Leighton McIntosh 83
Joao Victoria 86
Airdrie set the 'bench'-mark for the season ahead with two substitutes providing the firepower for a remarkable six minute turnaround against Forfar Athletic.
The Diamonds gained opening day revenge for last year at Station Park thanks to their late, late show.
It was only the second time in the last six seasons that Airdrieonians had enjoyed a winning start to their league campaign, and this victory owed much to the intervention of subs Joao Victoria and Leighton McIntosh as the clocked ticked down.
The visitors began the match on the front foot when Darryl Duffy ran in behind the Forfar backline on to Kyle Wilkie’s through ball, but the striker could only send the ball wide to the left of keeper Marc McCallum’s goal.
Three minutes later Scott Robertson’s long-range effort was on target but comfortably gathered by the Forfar keeper.
A lung bursting Scott Stewart run down the right saw him race into the penalty box on 18 minutes, and only a last ditch challenge prevented him from getting a shot away.
Forfar threatened with 20 minutes gone after Lewis Moore played a neat one-two int the Airdrie box, but keeper Scott Gallacher was down smartly to block his shot and send the ball away from goal.
Dale Carrick reacted quickly to a clearance which was sent back into the box when he spun and fired an 18-yard shot wide to the left of the target as the match remained goalless.
Centre back Sean Crighton joined the attack on 29 minutes, and a Ryan Conroy 25-yard free kick was knocked on by Jonathan Page with the Diamonds captain arriving to send the ball over McCallum’s crossbar.
After Duffy was taken down by Aidan Wilson eight minutes from the interval, a 30-yard effort from Conroy was wasteful as he curled the ball wide of the goal.
Airdrie were failing to make that telling pass to break through the Loons' five-man backline, and were hit with a sucker punch with four minutes of the half remaining.
The Diamonds' attack broke down in the Forfar half, leading to a sweeping move which took the home side the length of the park. Dale Hilson and John Baird’s passing saw them move the ball to the 18 yard box and Baird’s pinpoint cross to Hilson ended with the ball being fired homel to open the scoring.
Airdrie’s attempts to level before the break proved fruitless. Conroy’s corner with a minute remaining saw Crighton’s netbound header cleared off the line by Dylan Easton and as play continued Conroy’s follow up was off target.
Wlikie had an early shot after five minutes of the second half, running into space then blasting a 25 yard blast high over McCallum’s goal.
Forfar were more of an attacking force after the break, Easton having a shot from the right hand side blocked by the Airdrie defence on 59 minutes then eight minutes later the former Clyde man ran into the box and Scott Gallacher was once again alert to make the save.
The Airdrie keeper then did well to make a decent stop from Baird when the ex-Diamonds looked set to double the home side’s advantage.
Ross Meechan made headway into the Airdrie box on 76 minutes, sending his shot wide to the left of Gallacher’s goal.
Airdrie were keen to get Victoria involved and all of a sudden Forfar had a different threat to address.
Ten minutes from time Victoria showed great skill with his direct running at Meechan and then his driven shot was saved by McCallum but Conroy raced in to fire the rebound high into the net for the equaliser.
Three minutes later Crighton’s ball over the retreating Forfar defence saw Leighton McIntosh race in bravely, clipping the ball up and over McCallum to give the Diamonds the lead.
The turnaround was completed three minutes later when once more Victoria made space on the left then picked a pass wide to Conroy. The midfielder’s cross led to a defensive clearance which saw Victoria show great control of the ball with his chest before drilling a low near post shot into the net from inside the box.
A late showing to take all three points from a difficult match to get the season off and running.
John O'Brien at Station Park.
Photographs © John Steven. Click to view full size.