Saturday March 7, 2020
Ladbrokes League One
Dale Carrick 16
Dale Carrick scored the only goal of a tense affair as the Diamonds moved three points clear of East Fife.
With the contest to make the League One play-off positions continuing, four of the top five clubs enjoyed home advantage as the final round of fixtures got underway. Airdrie and East Fife were separated by goal difference in third and fourth spot at the start of the fixture.
Just as it had been at Montrose, a penalty kick led to the only goal of the game to separate the sides and send Ian Murray’s side three points clear in third.
Sean Crighton and Callum Smith returned to the starting line up in place of injury victims Leon McCann and Andy Ryan.
Airdrie were first to threaten after three minutes when a Callum Fordyce cross into the penalty box was headed on by Calum Gallagher and fell kindly to a visiting defender who cleared the ball upfield.
After six minutes Josh Kerr was on hand to block a shot from Scott Agnew after former Diamond Ryan Wallace had passed the ball for his team-mate.
Kerr was also on hand to block a shot from Danny Denholm with nine minutes gone with Wallace again the provider.
It was the home side who eventually broke the deadlock after 16 minutes. Chris Higgins foolishly hauled Josh Kerr to the ground inside the box with referee Colin Steven in close attendance as he pointed to the spot, while also booking the East Fife defender. Dale Carrick sent the ball to Brett Long’s left, and while the keeper made the save he could only push the ball back out with Carrick following up to send the rebound high into the net.
As the visitors looked for an equaliser, with 26 minutes gone Ross Davidson fired wide of the Airdrieonians goal from outside the box.
Three minutes Nat Wedderburn picked a pass to Kyle MacDonald whose low driven effort was well wide of the East Fife goal from long range.
On 31 minutes a Fordyce pass through the middle of the park found Carrick who turned and fired the ball tamely at the visitor’s goal. Two minutes later Carrick gathered a loose ball passed wide to the left for Callum Smith and his 25-yarder was on target but Long pushed the ball over his crossbar.
Seven minutes from the interval Wallace passed to Agnew who skipped past a couple of challenges before sending a shot away to Scott Gallacher’s left and he turned the ball away for a corner.
As the half time whistle blew, Carrick’s goal was all that separated the sides.
After the interval Innes Murray replaced Callum Smith. Callum Gallagher had a shot on target on 48 minutes with Long taking the ball comfortably.
Ross Dunlop fired a shot from distance on 50 minutes which was off target, while Anton Dowds headed a Wallace free kick over the Airdrie goal three minutes later.
Wallace was unable to make good contact on 61 minutes as he tried to meet a deflected cross into the box before MacDonald broke upfield on 64 minutes, running half the length of the park before curling a 30-yard shot directly at Long.
A minute later East Fife’s best player Agnew played a fine one-two which took him into the box, firing in a shot which Gallacher saved well.
As both sides made changes Kurtis Roberts almost put Gallagher through on goal in 69 minutes but Long came out of his goal to gather the ball.
A minute later an excellent long run by Paul McKay took him into the box before sending his shot wide of the target, then to add insult to injury he was booked for simulation.
As both sides tried to add to the single goal Long was equal to another MacDonald deflected shot from distance, while Wallace saw his attempt from 25 yards deflected for a corner.
With ten minutes left Dowds met another Wallace cross into the box but sent his header wide.
Davidson powered in a 25-yard shot which appeared on target but was deflected wide of Gallacher’s goal on 88 minutes .
East Fife came close to a leveller on the 90-minute mark after Nat Wedderburn slid in to meet a dangerous cross by Stewart Murdoch from the right and sent it past the post by inches.
Davidson picked up a second booking for a poor challenge on Carrick to see red in stoppage time.
In the end that early goal for the Diamonds was enough for all three points, with all of the sides playing at home winning their matches. With Airdrieonians travelling to Forfar Athletic next week while East Fife entertain Montrose, who also face a midweek trip to Stranraer, the play-off positions may become clearer.
John O'Brien at the Penny Cars Stadium.
Match photography by John Steven. Click images to view full size.