Saturday November 28, 2020

SPFL League One

Airdrieonians

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Thomas Robert 57

Cove Rangers

Jamie Masson 26

Thomas Robert’s sensational strike rescued a point for Airdrie after going behind to Cove Rangers, but the Diamonds will be disappointed not to have won it after striking woodwork twice.



It was a third goal in as many games for French winger Robert, who continued to add a certain je ne sais quoi to Airdrie’s performance with another stunning finish.

Injuries were behind a couple of enforced changes to the Diamonds line-up, with 19-year-old defender Scott Walker coming in for Kyle MacDonald, who was the victim of a hamstring strain. Kyle Connell was only deemed fit enough for a place on the bench as Griffin Sabatini returned to the starting line-up.

Paul Hartley’s newly promoted Cove Rangers showed exactly why they were the early pace-setters in League One with an incisive attacking display in the first half.

Former Aberdeen and Hibernian midfielder Fraser Fyvie was pulling the strings for his side with a roving role in midfield, while former Diamonds forward Leighton McIntosh showed plenty of endeavour in a right-wing berth.

The Toonsers attacked from the off in search of an early goal, with Jamie Masson’s free-kick striking the wall before Harry Milne and McIntosh both threatened Max Currie’s goal.

Robert was looking to make things happen for the Diamonds, but found himself on the receiving end of a yellow card after he was adjudged to have taken a dive on 14 minutes.

Fyvie broke forward five minutes later, but Callum Fordyce marshalled him well just inside the box and the danger was cleared.

Robert got plenty of power on his strike as the Diamonds launched their first meaningful attack on 20 minutes, but the effort whistled past the post.

Six minutes later the visitors were in front following a superb crossfield pass from top scorer Mitch Megginson. Masson was the man on the receiving end, and he slotted past Currie to give his side the lead.

The remainder of the first half was end-to-end, but Cove looked comfortable with their lead.

Robert fired a free-kick straight at Stuart McKenzie on the half-hour mark, before McIntosh sent a close range strike wide following a Cove corner.

Full-back Walker was having an assured debut, and linked well with Dale Carrick to burst down the wing on 35 minutes, but McKenzie was on hand to gather the cross ball, a feat he repeated from Robert’s delivery three minutes later.

The Cove keeper was proving equal to everything Airdrie could fire at him, diving full-length to keep out Carrick’s volley as half-time approached.

In first-half stoppage time Robert burst through the home defence, only to go down in the box as he shaped to shoot. With Airdrie claiming a penalty, referee Graham Grainger awarded a corner kick.

McKenzie made another fine save on the stroke of half time, clawing out a headed effort from Diamonds captain Sean Crighton.

Airdrie made changes to their shape and personnel at half-time, with Connell replacing Calum Gallagher in attack.

Carrick gave an early warning of the Diamonds intent with a rasping 30-yard drive which shook the frame of McKenzie’s goal as it cannoned off the crossbar to safety.

With Airdrie pressing forward the visitors still looked dangerous on the break, and Currie had to be alert to keep out a 51st-minute Fyvie strike.

Seven minutes later the Diamonds were level, and it was another goal of real quality from Robert who picked up a pass from Carrick and turned to slam a wonderful effort into the top corner, giving McKenzie no chance.

Airdrie could have been in front four minutes later as Josh Kerr’s deep cross almost curled in at the far post, before McKenzie was out quickly to beat Connell to a through ball.

Paul McKay was next to have a go for Airdrie, but the midfielder’s long-range effort lacked accuracy.

Currie was equal to Fyvie’s header on 74 minutes before the Diamonds keeper combined with Crighton to deny McIntosh.

The visitors were coming back into the game, but Connell almost won it for Airdrie with eight minutes remaining, beating McKenzie with a curling shot which cracked the junction of bar and post.

Eoghan Stokes came on for the final few minutes, and was denied a chance by a good defensive header before being closed down as he shot with two minutes to play.

With both sides enjoying the upper hand for 45 minutes, the points were shared after an entertaining match.

Stuart Mathie at Penny Cars Stadium.

Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.