Saturday February 29, 2020
Ladbrokes League One
Graham Webster 25 pen
Graham Webster’s penalty was enough for Montrose to beat the Diamonds and pull closer to the play-off positions as the top three all suffered defeats.
Ian Murray brought Craig Thomson into the starting line up for the injured Callum Smith as Airdrie aimed to continue this season’s trend of the fixture being won by the visiting side.
Airdrie started brightly with Andy Ryan getting on the end of a pass from Thomson after six minutes but his shot, although on target, was comfortably taken by keeper Allan Fleming.
Innes Murray was wasteful with a 15th minute free kick, as he overhit the cross into the arms of Fleming.
A long pass forward on 25 minutes caught the wind as Scott Gallacher came out to claim. As the ball slipped from the keeper’s grasp, he brought down Cammy Ballantyne with the referee pointing to the spot. Graham Webster fired the penalty kick low into the corner of the net.
Striker Russell McLean was giving the Airdrie defence problems, firing over the Airdrie goal from 20 yards out.
As Airdrie tried to level Callum Fordyce headed a Murray cross from a corner wide of goal with 32 minutes gone then a minute later after a short corner, Thomson fired the ball across the face of the Montrose goal with no-one there to make contact.
With six minutes of the half left Ryan had the beating of Seán Dillon inside the box, curling a shot in on goal which Fleming took low down to his right post.
A minute later fine play from the home side led to McLean making an excellent run across the 18-yard line before firing in a netbound shot which had Gallacher diving to his right and stretching to touch the ball over the Airdrie crossbar.
Murray was on target with a shot on 43 minutes with Fleming once again equal to anything that came in his direction as the home side took their lead to the break.
Sean Crighton replaced Leon McCann as the second half got underway, with Ballantyne firing a long-range attempt wide of the target in the first minute after the restart.
Thomson’s run down the left a minute later was followed by a cut inside, though his shot from distance was on target but comfortably taken by Fleming.
After 54 minutes an attempted passback by Kieran Millar was short. Blair Lyons intercepted and tried to lob the Airdrie keeper, who was able to get back and gather the ball.
Paul Watson fired just wide of the visitors’ goal from 25 yards on the 56-minute mark, while Nat Wedderburn was closer from the same distance in front of goal with his attempt after a spell of Airdrie pressure led to the ball being played back into his path on 61 minutes.
Watson sent another long-range effort over the bar two minutes later, then on 65 minutes the home side thought they had a second goal. A ball into the box saw Gallacher go to claim the ball with McLean in close attendance. The keeper had the ball then went to ground as the ball dropped into the net. A free-kick was awarded with David Hutton replacing Gallacher for the remaining period of the match.
With less than quarter of an hour left Ally Roy was on target after a decent passage of play, but Fleming saved well.
Hutton then saved easily from a couple of shots inside a minute from substitutes Mohammed Niang and Craig Johnston.
Roy and Ryan combined with six minutes of the game to play but the final touch saw the ball fall kindly for Fleming.
Although the home side were controlling the play in their final third, Airdrie fashioned a good chance four minutes from time with the ball eventually breaking to Kyle MacDonald who blazed over the bar.
The chance to close the gap on Raith Rovers and Falkirk was missed ahead of the midweek clash between the clubs. The final quarter of the season gets underway with a visit from East Fife, which will be critical for the last block of fixtures.
John O'Brien at Links Park.
Match photography by John Steven. Click images to view full size.