February 12, 2022
cinch League 1
Calum Gallagher 34, 36
Craig Watson 63
Adam Frizzell 69
Graham Webster 45 pen
A display of deadly finishing saw Airdrie thrash Montrose and move closer to leaders Cove Rangers.
A double from Calum Gallagher and goals from Craig Watson and Adam Frizzell gave the Diamonds a handsome victory over a side they hadn’t laid a glove on in two previous meetings this season.
Manager Ian Murray made one change to the side which started at Cove last weekend, with striker Calum Gallagher a like-for-like swap with Jordan Allan.
A cagey opening to the match saw few goalmouth incidents in the opening stages, with Airdrie moving the ball about well but finding the Montrose defence difficult to break down.
A ninth-minute Dylan Easton cross drifted behind after a fine crossfield pass by Adam Frizzell, and a minute later Blair Lyons saw a strike deflected wide at the other end.
Easton had a go from outside the box on 12 minutes, but the midfielder’s driven shot was off-target.
Callum Smith was inches away from Brody Paterson’s cross four minutes later after a marauding run down the left had seen the full-back rob Matty Allan and fire in a dangerous ball.
On the half-hour mark Max Currie had to move his feet quickly to readjust after a cross from the Montrose right took a nick off a defender, but the goalkeeper was well in control of the situation.
On 34 minutes Calum Gallagher broke the deadlock with a wonderful strike. A one-two with Easton was mopped up by the visiting defence, but the midfielder managed to prod the ball back to Gallagher, who took a touch before curling the ball into the top corner of Allan Fleming’s goal.
Before Stewart Petrie’s side had a chance to react to going behind, Gallagher grabbed a second.
Easton was again the architect, curling a cross in to meet Gallagher’s run, and the striker spun and flicked beyond Fleming, the ball kissing the underside of the bar on its way into the net.
Montrose responded with Lewis Milne firing over the bar on 40 minutes, but on the stroke of half-time the visitors were awarded a penalty when Lyons burst into the box and toppled over the outstretched leg of Josh Kerr.
Graham Webster sent Currie the wrong way from the spot, but a show of petulance saw the midfielder booked as he pushed the Airdrie keeper over in an attempt to retrieve the ball.
Craig Watson replaced Kyle MacDonald at half-time, but it was Montrose who started the second half brightly, Lyons forcing a fine point-blank save from Currie after peeling away at the back post two minutes after the restart.
Airdrie retaliated through Gallagher and Smith, with the latter accepting the double goalscorer’s pass only to be denied by a superb last-ditch tackle.
Currie pushed out a 58th-minute Webster effort as play continued to swing from end to end, but it was the Diamonds who regained their two-goal advantage five minutes later.
Fordyce’s raking pass found Smith who laid off the overlapping Paterson. The on-loan Celt’s cross was left by Frizzell with Watson in space on the edge of the box. The big defender looked every inch the centre-forward as he smashed an unstoppable volley beyond Fleming to make it 3-1.
Again the Diamonds were quick to press their advantage, and Adam Frizzell made it four on 70 minutes. Smith picked the ball up on the halfway line and showed pace and strength with a thrusting run to the bye-line before cutting back to Frizzell in acres of space. Fleming saved the initial shot with his feet, but the Airdrie midfielder reacted first to nod into the empty net.
A number of substitutions and bookings broke up play for much of the remainder of the match, and there were Diamonds debuts for recent signing Jonathan Afolabi and Justin Devenny.
Allan and Ballantyne both missed the target for Montrose, with Currie confidently catching a header from substitute Elijah Simpson.
Fleming denied Afolabi a debut goal in the final minute, saving at his near post, but it ended in a comfortable win for the Diamonds who moved to within five points of Cove Rangers after the league leaders were held to a draw by Queen’s Park.
Stuart Mathie at Penny Cars Stadium.
Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.