Saturday Feburary 9, 2019
Ladbrokes League One
Gary Irvine 41
Adam Eckersley 72
Airdrie failed to make up ground on the play-off positions as Forfar Athletic ran out deserved winners at a gusty Station Park.
The hosts included January signings Adam Eckersley and Gary Irvine, while the Diamonds had two changes with Scott Robertson and Josh Campbell returning to the starting line-up. Darryl Duffy dropped to the bench, while a hamstring injury ruled out Kieran MacDonald completely.
Much of the early play was decidedly scrappy, with both teams coming to terms with a cold Angus wind which saw the match at nearby Arbroath abandoned after less than quarter of an hour.
Ryan Conroy's 14th-minute free kick saw a ruck of players attack the ball, but it bounced harmlessly through to Loons goalkeeper Marc McCallum.
Any success in working the ball forward came through short passing moves, and Scott Stewart and Kieran Millar combined well to advance into the box on 18 minutes, but a final misjudged pass saw the ball drift behind for a goal kick.
Dale Hilson had Forfar's first chance on 20 minutes, trying his luck from distance with the wind at his back, but David Hutton watched the effort sail wide.
The home side came close to taking the lead after 39 minutes, Dylan Easton's looping strike rebounding off the base of the post.
Three minutes later, Jim Weir's side did make the breakthrough. New signing Irvine stepped onto a pass from defence and from fully 30 yards lifted an inch-perfect dipping effort over Hutton.
The goal lit up an otherwise poor first half, and saw the hosts take their lead into the break.
Airdrie's best chance of the match came four minutes after the restart, a well-struck Conroy free-kick tipped over the bar by McCallum.
Grant Gallagher tried his luck from distance on 52 minutes, but McCallum was well placed to gather the ball.
With the wind now at the Diamonds' backs, Conroy had another free-kick saved on the hour mark before John Baird contrived to blaze over an open goal six minutes later.
Airdrie had a penalty shout on 72 minutes when substitute Darryl Duffy's knock-on struck a defender's hand, but referee Graham Beaton was unimpressed.
A minute later Forfar had doubled their lead on the counter-attack. Easton drove forward from the half-way line, slipping the ball to Eckersley. The former St Mirren man fired across goal, his strike clipping the inside of the far post and nestling in the net.
Substitute Dale Carrick almost had an instant impact as he beat his marker to Stewart's head-flick, but the ball bounced in front of McCallum and skewed wide of the target.
A strong overlapping run took Stewart into the box with ten minutes remaining but the midfielder shot just over.
The final opportunity of the match fell to former Airdrie striker Baird, who shanked a good chance with two minutes to play.
It was a solid performance from Jim Weir's side, who have now stretched their lead over the disappointing Diamonds to nine points, leapfrogging East Fife into third place.
Airdrie will have to pick themselves up against another Angus side, Brechin City, who visit the Penny Cars Stadium next weekend.
Stuart Mathie at Station Park.
Photographs © John Steven. Click to view full size.