Airdrie 3, Stranraer 2
There were encouraging signs at Airdrie last weekend as Stranraer more than matched their hosts.
Ultimately they failed to hold on to the advantage they had built up and conceded a couple of late goals to go down. The disappointing defeat makes the Blues appear a little more isolated at the foot of the table.
It was the home side that created the first chance after 10 minutes. Paddy Boyle delivered a great ball from left back that deceived Frank McKeown and fell to Lewis Coult but he couldn’t keep the ball down.
However, Airdrie were more clinical on their next attack and took the lead. Jamie Bain won the ball on the right and moved it inside to Jim Lister. The centre forward rolled the ball to David Sinclair who lashed a low drive past David Mitchell.
Stranraer responded positively and Grant Gallagher had an effort blocked by Darren McCormack. Mark Corcoran then created a great chance for David McKenna the striker’s touch was too faint.
The Blues created an even better move just before the interval and were rewarded when Aitken’s run on to a flick from Martin Grehan was ended by a challenge from Sinclair and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot for Stranraer’s sixth penalty of the season. Chris Aitken made it his fifth successful conversion when he smashed the kick into the roof of the net.
Stranraer were fortunate to remain level when Willie McLaren sprung the offside trap and charged through on goal but Mitchell made a fine save. On the stroke of half-time Gregor Buchanan had a blast from 35 yards out and struck it well but Mitchell hung on.
Stranraer came out after the break firing and McKenna and Grehan created a good chance for Grehan but he was denied both by a superb Gallacher save.
Eleven minutes into the second half the visitors took the lead when Martin Grehan powered a header into the net from Aitken’s corner.
Airdrie reacted well and, from the hour mark, began to increase the pressure. Lister had a chance after nice work from Nathan Blockley but he shot over and Coult then had a near-post flick at a corner that only just went wide. Then it was Mitchell to the rescue again, tipping a header from Lister away for a corner but the home side sensed an opportunity might come if they kept turning the screw.
They did just that and got rewarded for their second-half surge with 72 minutes on the clock. Bain hooked the ball into the box from the right and, with the Blues defence unable to clear, Coult volleyed home for the equaliser.
Stranraer made a couple of changes to try to regain some impetus and Ryan Borris made half a chance for Grehan who did get on the end of his cross. Evans made another decisive challenge to deny McKenna as the closing stages continued from end to end. Jamie Longworth had a couple of chances late on, but it was the home side that would deliver the coup de grace. A free kick 25 yards out in the last minute was curled into the box by McLaren and with none of the home defenders able to clear, the ball reached the far post where full back Gregor Buchanan had the composure to turn the ball into the net.
A bitterly disappointed Stephen Aitken was unhappy with the way Stranraer had failed to close out the game from a winning position after having played very well for over an hour. He said: “Having weathered a bit of storm, losing the two goals late on was poor defending and it’s now time to show a bit of character and realise it’s a fight we’re in and there’s work to be done during the week for the home games coming up.”
Airdrie: Scott Gallacher, Gregor Buchanan, Paddy Boyle, Darren McCormack, Grant Evans, David Sinclair, Jamie Bain, Nathan Blockley, Jim Lister (Grant Drummond 90), Lewis Coult (Liam Coogans 79), Willie McLaren. Subs not used: Scott Stewart, Liam Watt, Andrew Duncan.
Booked: Boyle, Coult, Evans
Goals: Sinclair 12, Coult 72, Buchanan 89
Stranraer: David Mitchell, Scott Rumsby, David MacGregor, Scott Robertson, Frank McKeown, Chris Aitken, Sean Winter (Andy Stirling 75), Grant Gallagher, Martin Grehan, David McKenna (Jamie Longworth 80), Mark Corcoran (Ryan Borris 75). Subs not used: Lloyd Kinnaird, Mark Docherty, Adam Forde, Chris Fahey.
Booked: Winter, Grehan, Rumsby
Goals: Aitken 39 Pen, Grehan 56
Referee: B Cook