Tuesday April 27, 2021
SPFL League One
Kyle Connell 9, 56
Graham Webster 80
Kyle Connell was Airdrie’s double-scoring hero as the Diamonds took a big step towards the promotion play-offs with victory against Montrose.
Striker Connell was one of three changes made by Ian Murray, replacing Ally Roy, while Josh Kerr and Scott Walker came in for the injured Sean Crighton and Euan O’Reilly.
Following defeat at Partick on Saturday, the pressure was on Airdrie to put daylight between themselves and the Gable Endies ahead of the final two matches, and the Diamonds’ attacking intent was clear from the start.
Calum Gallagher’s determination saw him outmuscle Seán Dillon in the third minute, running on to his own header to fire in a shot which goalkeeper Allan Fleming tipped round the post.
Leon McCann skipped away from a tackle to bomb down the left three minutes later, but Kyle Turner couldn’t bring the pass in and the danger was cleared.
Connell and Gallagher then combined with the latter going to ground as he attempted to reach the Kilmarnock loanee’s square pass, but any half-hearted appeals for a penalty were quickly waved away by referee Kevin Graham.
Two minutes later Connell grabbed a superb opener, latching onto a long ball from Dale Carrick and controlling Aidan Quinn’s attempted clearance, leave the defender on the deck. With space to attack, Connell opted for the early shot, clipping the ball beyond the helpless Fleming from 20 yards.
Airdrie pushed for a quick second, Walker’s 11th-minute cross well controlled by Andrew Steeves.
It took Montrose 19 minutes to register a noteworthy attempt on goal, but Max Currie took Liam Callaghan’s header cleanly.
Paul McKay did well to clear a cross away from danger a minute later as Stewart Petrie’s side rallied.
Currie claimed another headed effort from Steeves before Carrick found himself with a sight of goal in a similar position to Connell’s strike, but this time the shot went over the bar.
Airdrie enjoyed a spell of pressure around the half-hour mark with Turner’s pass just out of Gallagher’s reach before the visiting defence bundled a Connell cutback away from danger.
Montrose replied with their own attack, but Josh Kerr was on hand to make a couple of important clearances.
Carrick rushed in at the back on the stroke of half-time, sending a header wide of the post from close range.
As the sides settled into the second half, Gallagher had to help out his defence with a clearing header from a Montrose setpiece.
11 minutes into the second period, Connell grabbed his second with another strike from outside the area.
Nicking the ball from between Cammy Ballantyne’s legs on the touchline, the striker powered towards goal with intelligent decoy runs from McCann and Gallagher creating space. A thunderous strike from the edge of the area looked goalbound, but a slight deflection from Dillon’s boot made sure.
Stewart Petrie began to shuffle his pack with a number of attacking substitutions, and Montrose captain Terry Masson forced a good save from Currie as he fired in a 64th-minute shot.
Currie saved well again ten minutes later, using his feet to block Chris Mochrie’s low strike.
Some nice passing interplay almost saw Carrick through on goal on 77 minutes, but there was too much on the final pass after good work from Connell and Turner.
Montrose pulled one back with ten minutes remaining, substitute Graham Webster creating the space to send a wonderful curling finish into the top corner.
As the visitors threw men forward in search of an equaliser the Airdrie penalty box became congested, setting up a nervy finale.
The Diamonds almost nicked a third on the break, Turner sending an angled shot across goal and just wide of the post.
In the fourth minute of stoppage time Montrose sub Chris Antoniazzi was wasteful with a dangerous free-kick, and the final whistle signalled another big three points for the home side.
Stuart Mathie at Penny Cars Stadium.
Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.