Saturday January 5, 2019
Ladbrokes League One
Anton Dowds 20
Kyle Wilkie 18
Leighton McIntosh 44
Goals from Kyle Wilkie and Leighton McIntosh were enough to provide Airdrie’s first away win against East Fife in the last two seasons.
The Diamonds made it three wins in a row for the second time this season, although this time it was three league fixtures in succession which saw them move closer to their hosts, who sit third in the table.
Hibernian loanee Josh Campbell started the match and almost made an immediate impact. In the first minute the young midfielder was on the end of a Leighton McIntosh cross from the right, firing a shot at goal only for Darryl Meggatt to block and send the ball for a corner.
Airdrie enjoyed the early pressure as Scott Stewart fired in a low effort on 11 minutes, but the on-target strike was deflected wide of goal.
Eight minutes later Airdrie took the lead. Kieran MacDonald’s cross from the left was well controlled by McIntosh, whose lay-off for Kyle Wilkie saw the former East Fife player force the ball past Brett Long for the opening goal.
The home side levelled immediately after keeper Ben McKenzie was short with his pass to MacDonald, allowing Anton Dowds to intercept the ball. His first shot was pushed back out by McKenzie but Dowds followed up to curl the ball into the net.
Stewart had an early chance to restore the lead on 22 minutes after he latched on to a loose ball in the box from a corner but could only send the ball wide of Long’s goal.
Josh Edwards set up MacDonald on the half hour mark, but the defender's 25-yard attempt did not threaten the East Fife goal.
12 minutes of the half remained when McIntosh and Wilkie linked well through the middle and Wilkie’s 25-yard attempt kissed the crossbar, going just over the top.
With 36 minutes gone Pat Slattery's 20-yard shot was wide to the right of McKenzie’s goal.
A defensive slip on 40 minutes allowed McIntosh to race in on goal with just Long to beat, but the keeper did well and blocked the striker’s touch on goal then cleared upfield.
Goalscorer Wilkie tried to set up Kieran Millar two minutes from the break but the former East Fife man did not get good control of the ball and the chance was gone.
Just before the interval some excellent play in the build-up saw Ian Murray’s side grab the lead again. Some good skill from MacDonald was followed by a great pass wide left to Edwards, who made ground down the wing then delivered an excellent cross. McIntosh had made a superb run into the box and timed his header perfectly to power the ball into the net for a 2-1 half time advantage.
East Fife had the ball in the net two minutes after the restart but an early flag saw it disallowed for offside.
Rory Currie tested McKenzie on 54 minutes firing on target from 20 yards, though the keeper was well behind the shot.
Edwards fired over the goal on 55 minutes but MacDonald went close to increasing the lead on the hour when he struck a 30-yard free-kick that hit Long’s left post before the keeper gathered.
Former Diamond Ross Davidson went close a minute later from the left side of the box as the match swung from end to end.
Airdrie’s threat was coming on the counter attack with Stewart racing into the box and forcing Long to make an excellent save from almost point-blank range on 77 minutes, while two minutes later Long again proved himself equal to the task taking a long range attempt from Grant Gallagher.
Substitute Kevin Smith had sight of goal with ten minutes left but failed to test McKenzie with his shot.
Meggatt went close to equalising on 82 minutes when his header following a corner looked netbound only for Gallagher to head the ball off the line.
Davidson had a shot blocked on 87 minutes as the home side searched for an equaliser, with Airdrie defending deep.
McIntosh linked well with Stewart as the game moved into stoppage time with the striker hitting the side netting before leaving the field to a rousing reception for his efforts.
Five additional minutes were played with Airdrie defending resolutely and retaining their lead for all three points.
A good start to the third quarter with full points from two matches with second-placed Raith Rovers visiting Airdrie next, having won the previous two meetings this season.
John O'Brien at Locality Hub Bayview Stadium.
Photographs © John Steven. Click to view full size.