December 7, 2021
cinch League 1
Craig Johnston 20
Graham Webster 66
Kerr McInroy 36
Montrose took the points from a tight affair at Links Park, with the howling wind and driving rain of Storm Barra wreaking havoc in Angus.
The match was deemed playable after a 6pm inspection, and it’s credit to both teams that they tried to get the ball down and play football even though the conditions made that impossible at times.
Callum Smith dropped to the bench from last weekend’s side which won 2-0 at Stenhousemuir, with Gabby McGill ploughing a lone furrow upfront as Kerr McInroy returned to the midfield.
The Diamonds started brightly, but a notoriously solid Montrose defence offered no quarter as McGill was quickly closed down after breaking into the box in the fifth minute.
With the wind behind him, Dylan Easton tested home keeper Aaron Lennox with a driven free kick from fully 40 yards a minute later, and though the keeper fumbled the initial shot, he was down quickly to smother the loose ball.
McInroy’s hard tackling set Scott McGill on the attack after ten minutes, but again the home defence snuffed out the danger.
Montrose showed their attacking threat five minutes later, Mark Whatley sending a stinging effort just over the bar.
With twenty minutes on the clock, the hosts took the lead. Breaking down the right, a dangerous cross was flashed across the face of goal with no takers, but wing-back Andrew Steeves picked the ball up on the left flank and picked out Craig Johnston, who adjusted his shape well to turn the ball past Max Currie from close range.
Airdrie came close to an equaliser four minutes later, a ball fired through a congested penalty box winding up just wide of the post.
Montrose should have doubled their lead on the half-hour mark, an incisive breakaway sending Blair Lyons through on goal. The striker drew Currie out and fired goalward, but Luke Lyons had made up an incredible amount of ground to slide across goal and clear.
As spectacular as the clearance was, it saw Lyons smash into the frame of the goal, with the unfortunate defender eventually withdrawn.
Adam Frizzell was proving as industrious as usual despite the conditions, and the midfielder fed Dylan Easton on 34 minutes only for Steeves to block the return pass.
Frizzell and McInroy combined two minutes later, with the Celtic loanee’s long-range effort deflected behind.
McInroy took the corner himself, and a front-post mix-up saw his delivery creep into the net to hand the Diamonds a bizarre equaliser.
Montrose battled well against the wind as they tried to get their noses back in front, Graham Webster’s free-kick drifting behind before Currie had to be alert to race out to a 42nd-minute through ball.
McInroy saw another wind-assisted effort hacked clear on the stroke of half-time.
Callum Smith replaced Scott McGill for Airdrie as Ian Murray changed shape at half-time with the Diamonds now playing into the wind.
Currie made a good save just after the break as Montrose took advantage of a defensive slip, before the lively McInroy played a one-two with Frizzell and fired into the side netting.
With Lyons eventually conceding to his earlier knock, Scott Walker replaced the defender as the Diamonds won a succession of corner kicks.
Currie gathered a Webster free-kick before a flying volley sliced just over the keeper’s crossbar on 57 minutes, but it was Lennox who pulled off the save of the evening two minutes later, diving across to tip Smith’s effort round the post.
McGill came close again as play raged from end to end, but it was top scorer Webster who handed Montrose the advantage after 66 minutes.
Placing the ball after winning a cheap free-kick on the corner of the Diamonds box, the midfielder curled a strike toward goal. With the wind coming in and the home attack advancing towards the setpiece, Currie seemed to be caught out and the ball bounced into the goal.
Undeterred, the Diamonds continued to attack, Smith denied by a last-ditch tackle after some trademark fancy footwork by Easton.
Rhys McCabe saw an effort deflected wide before a McGill header dropped just too late to trouble Lennox following good work down the right by Walker and McCabe.
An 83rd-minute series of crosses saw the ball eventually booted clear by the home defence, and five minutes later Easton came close to grabbing the equaliser as his angled strike just cleared the far post.
It was the last chance of the match for the Diamonds, who will feel hard done by after putting up a good fight in awful conditions.
The result sees Stewart Petrie’s side overtake Airdrie in the League 1 standings, while the Diamonds have an immediate chance to move back up the table with Saturday’s home match against Queen’s Park.