July 31, 2021

cinch League 1

Airdrieonians

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0-3

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Montrose

Terry Masson 10
Lewis Milne 50
Graham Webster 74 pen

Airdrie slumped to defeat at the hands of Montrose on a frustrating cinch League 1 opening day.

There was one change to the starting line-up which lost at Queen of the South in the final Premier Sports Cup tie, Rhys McCabe returning to the side to replace Sam Wardrop, who had suffered an ankle knock in training.

With a number of players returning, manager Ian Murray was able to name a full substitutes bench for the first time this season.

The match was preceded by a minute’s silence for former Airdrieonians Billy Reid and Ally Dawson, both of whom sadly passed away recently.

Meeting between the sides have traditionally been tight affairs since Montrose’s promotion from League 2, and the opening minutes suggested that this would be no different, with no real goalmouth action as the players sized each other up.

That unravelled in the tenth minute when a stray pass was picked up in midfield and the visitors quickly worked the ball forward. Lewis Milne had time to measure his cross from the left hand side, and Montrose captain Terry Masson raced away from his marker to turn the ball past Max Currie.

Josh Kerr was close to an equaliser six minutes later as McCabe curled in a free-kick, but the defender just couldn’t stretch enough to get the vital touch.

Masson continued to get forward from his midfield berth, but his 24th-minute appeals for a penalty fell on deaf ears.

Quick passing moves were few and far between, but Airdrie almost capitalised on one such passage of play when the ball found Scott McGill in the box on 33 minutes, but the Hearts loanee was unable to set himself and instead of shooting was forced into a pass which was easily mopped up.

Callum Fordyce was brave to block a thunderous strike from Milne two minutes later, before defender Matty Allan rose to meet a corner but steered his header wide of the target.

In the last action of a poor first half, Milne skied an effort from the edge of the box.

Airdrie changed their shape and personnel at half-time, Gabby McGill replacing Matty McDonald before Salim Kouider-Aïssa pulled out three minutes in and had to be replaced by Jordan Allan.

As the Diamonds reorganised, Milne score a fine second for Montrose, drifting in from the and firing a well-placed strike beyond Currie from the edge of the area.

Airdrie retaliated through Calum Gallagher, who accepted a through ball from Allan only to see his angled strike deflected over the bar.

Masson had another good opportunity after a forward run by Andrew Steeves, but Currie produced a top reaction save from Masson's close-range shot.

Dylan Easton was introduced just before the hour mark and immediately began to link play in the forward areas, however his 67th-minute effort was well held by Allan Fleming.

McCabe found himself behind a free-kick in an almost identical position to that which produced his wonder-goal against Motherwell, however this time the goalkeeper was able to get behind the strike.

As the Diamonds continued to press forward in an attempt to get back into the match, Montrose were awarded a rather soft penalty when substitute Blair Lyons went down under little contact from Kerr and Craig Watson.

Graham Webster stepped up to slam the spot-kick past Currie.

Lyons saw an acrobatic volley whistle past the post with ten minutes remaining before Fleming held a Scott Agnew shot a minute later.

Airdrie pushed for what would be no more than a consolation goal, but the visiting defence was well marshalled by Seán Dillon and dealt with any late pressure that came their way.

The final whistled brought a disappointing first League 1 fixture to an end, with much work to be done before the Diamonds travel to Dumbarton next weekend.

Stuart Mathie at Penny Cars Stadium.

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