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Saturday November 16, 2019

Ladbrokes League One






Calum Gallagher 54

Dale Carrick 89


Goals from Calum Gallagher and Dale Carrick sent Airdrie top of League One as the Diamonds dug in for a win at Stranraer.


The victory took the club’s unbeaten run against Stranraer to seven matches. It was also the first clean sheet since September at Dumbarton.


November has seen three wins from three matches with another couple of important matches in the month still to play.


The first 45 minutes was a scrappy affair with neither side looking particularly likely to break the deadlock. Certainly, there were pieces of play in either side’s final third but a goal did not appear forthcoming.


After 18 minutes, following a succession of Airdrie corners, Kyle MacDonald had a shot on target blocked with the ball cleared upfield.


On the 20-minute mark Airdrie keeper David Hutton reacted superbly to meet an Andy Stirling cross as striker Mark Stewart raced into the box to try and meet the ball.


Two minutes later Hutton stretched as a cross from the left looked as if it might drop in behind him, but the Diamonds keeper clawed the ball away from the goal.


With 28 minutes gone Kurtis Roberts’ strike from outside the box appeared on-target, but a ricochet saw the attempt blocked and again the ball was cleared away from the Stranraer penalty area.


After 31 minutes a strong run at the Stranraer backline by Roberts was followed up by a fine angled pass in for the visitor’s top scorer Gallagher, who sent the ball past keeper Max Currie but also wide of the goal.


A minute from the interval a Paul McKay throw was flicked on by skipper Sean Crighton and Gallagher tried to get on the end of the ball but was off target with his effort. 


Three minutes after the restart Stranraer striker Mark Stewart met a cross from Jordan Allan at the near post but failed to threaten the Airdrie goal.


The deadlock was broken on 54 minutes. Another strong run by Roberts on the right led to the ball being played into the penalty box and Carrick’s doggedness allowed MacDonald to fire the ball across the face of goal, where Gallagher sidefooted home to take his goal tally into double figures for the season.


As play started to open up a little, Carrick had a 25-yard shot blocked by the home defence. 


On 64 minutes Hutton was in the right place to collect a James Hilton header on target, after some good build up from Stranraer.


Carrick fired wide on 71 minutes after some decent play by Kieran Millar in the lead-up to the former Livingston striker’s shot.


With 13 minutes left Hutton had the simplest of tasks to take a Conor McManus shot from outside the box which was on target.


Crighton and fellow central defender Callum Fordyce were attacking every high ball into their defensive area and the backline remained a well marshalled unit despite being pushed back by the anxious home side trying to get back on terms.


Roberts was covering a lot of ground and did well to get back on 79 minutes, throwing his body in front of a decent shot from substitute Ian Smith.


Gallagher suffered an injury which had seen him replaced by Ally Roy, who made a terrific run from the right-hand side to head for goal on 81 minutes. With Currie in front of him he fired in a shot which looked to be heading for the right-hand corner until the Blues keeper pulled off an excellent one-handed save to keep his side in the match.


At the other end a fine tackle from Crighton on David Dangana ended the threat as the Stranraer substitute raced into the box.


A minute from time Carrick was taken out as he raced forward on the counter-attack. The striker was rewarded for his non-stop movement when he got on the end of Leon McCann’s pinpoint cross, racing to the front post to send an exquisite back heel volley in off the crossbar and provide the Diamonds with the cushion to see out the match and take all three points. 


A decent travelling support welcomed the final whistle celebrations from Ian Murray’s side, after proving that sometimes you have to win without flair if the situation arises.

John O'Brien at Stair Park.

Match photography by John Steven. Click images to view full size.

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