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AIRDRIE UNITED 2 : 0 QUEEN OF THE SOUTH 29th December 2004
Rating: 5.75
Rating: 6.39
Rating: 6.62
Rating: 6.22
Rating: 5.14
Rating: 6.22
Rating: 6.60
Rating: 5.23
Rating: 5.03
Rating: 5.66
Rating: 6.19
S1 - 60
Rating: 5.00
S2 - 85
Members of the Internet Fan Club can award players marks out of ten for their performance today. The player with the most points awarded in the two days following a match will be the IFC Man of the Match. All of the points will then be added to a running total for each player and the results published in the mom League Table.

Name or IFC No.
A horrible wet and windy night in Airdrie brought a sixth successive away match without a win and only a solitary point at St Mirren gained in that spell. Unfortunately as the early season poor home form has been turned around so has the excellent away form disappeared. It was maybe asking a bit much to expect to go a 4th fixture against Airdrie United without conceding so much as a goal, especially given their current excellent run of form but this was a game which could have been won.

Iain Scott made three changes to the side that gave Falkirk a scare more than a week ago, two by choice, one enforced. The enforced change brought a surprise debut for goalkeeper Ritchie Barnard in relief of Colin Scott, a calf strain victim. Elsewhere, Willie Gibson returned to the side at the expense of Brian McColligan whilst Gary Wood was restored to partner Jim Thomson at the back. David Craig moved out to full back and Tommy English dropped to the bench. The hosts meanwhile were much closer to full strength than at any time previously in our meetings. Only Kevin Christie was a notable absentee from their list of regular starters.

The match started slowly in the poor conditions with the two sides feeling each other out. The only noteworthy incident of the opening minutes saw Willie Gibson booked for blocking a quick free kick. Jim Thomson might consider himself a little lucky indeed not to see yellow for the challenge on Gow that led to the award in the first place. Action in the opening half hour was end to end without either side ever really looking like they would trouble the keepers. On 27 minutes though Airdrie had the first half chance when Wilson's cross was met at the back post by the powerful Martin Hardie with a header that looped over the crossbar.

It was surprising therefore given the lack of goal threat up to that point that Airdrie captured the lead from the next attack on 31 minutes. Alan Gow crossed in from the left and Owen Coyle was left at the back of the six yard box to head the ball into the bottom right corner of goal. Queens could have equalised almost immediately. David Bagan did well to win the ball in midfield and strode forward, beating two opponents before slipping Brian McLaughlin through on goal. Coming in from the left though the diminutive striker hit the ball straight off the torso of the advancing McGeown who then fell at his feet before he could smuggle the rebound home. With that chance gone Airdrie proceeded to dominate the rest of the half though again without testing Barnard at all. Just before the break though Barnard charged from his box and attempted to trick a striker before giving the ball away to McLaren. His cross shot from out wide was part-cleared by a defender but, when the ball came in again, Gary Wood scythed through the young winger near the touchline and duly picked up yet another booking for his collection.

The second half started in worsening weather which seemed to play into Queens hands. With the wind and rain in their faces the home side were struggling to clear their penalty area at times but an elusive equaliser wouldn't come. In 53 minutes Gibson played in Lyle who could have released Bowey clean through on goal but opted to turn and shoot from the edge of the box and sent the ball a yard or so wide. As the weather eased off a little so the game became very spread. First Hardie's powerful shot from 20 yards was straight at Barnard then, at the other end, Burns cut inside to present Bowey with a shooting chance but a defender blocked. Back came the hosts and Gow shot over from 20 yards.

Willie Gibson wasn't having his most productive of nights and he was withdrawn by Scott on the hour mark and replaced with David McNiven with Brian McLaughlin moving over to the left of midfield. The end to end stuff continued though and first Wood blocked McLaren's goalbound effort before McLaughlin's dangerous cross was scrambled away at the other end. From the resulting throw McNiven's turn and shot was clutched by McGeown. On 72 minutes Gow found himself clear in the box and shot but Barnard did well to catch the effort above his head. It delayed the second only by one minute though. It was that man Alan Gow who did the damage, collecting the ball in the middle of the park before advancing unchallenged on goal. He curled a beautiful shot into the bottom left corner from 22 yards without being challenged. Airdrie immediately brought on Jerome Vareille for Mark Roberts. Just three minutes later Barnard threw himself spectacularly left to tip a Vareille drive from 30 yards over the top as Airdrie went for the kill.

On 77 minutes Craig was maybe a little lucky to escape a booking for a late lunge at Gow which saw him receive lengthy treatment. A couple of minutes later though Stephen Docherty did receive a caution for a late challenge on McLaughlin despite the Airdrie management's attempts to substitute him before the referee could produce the card! He was then replaced with Willie Wilson.

The final few minutes though saw a succession of good Queens chances which were enough to win three games!. First Lyle's right sided cross was tipped away by McGeown as McNiven awaited an easy nod into the empty net if the keeper didn't get there. From the resulting corner McGeown got completely lost and ended up on the ground as the ball presented itself at David Craig who should have scored. However, Craig's control let him down and the ball was scrambled away only as far as Lyle who's header at goal was nodded off the line by Owen Coyle of all people. A change for either side on 85 minutes saw Jaconelli replace Lyle for Queens and Dunn replace Gow for Airdrie. With two minutes remaining a fine passing move saw Queens suddenly three on one but Jaconelli opted to shoot himself from the edge of the box rather than play in a colleague. His shot was a good one though and forced a fine block out of McGeown. Bowey then missed a sitter of a rebound but was given offside anyway. A minute into injury time more good passing cleared Bowey into the box but, forced wide, his shot across the face of goal failed to trouble the net. On 92 minutes a fine pass from Jaconelli allowed McNiven a clear run at McGeown but whilst his shot beat the goalkeeper it also bent away from the bottom left corner and narrowly missed the target.

An odd game at the end of the day. For me Airdrie played better than this at Palmerston and lost. We played worse than this that day and won! Over 90 minutes the home side probably played the better stuff and probably deserved their win. However, for spells we pegged them back and probably had more good chances over the period albeit most of them arrived inside the final ten minutes. On a night like this the first goal was always going to be crucial and, once they got it and McLaughlin failed with a great chance to equalise straight away, it was always going to be difficult to get a result. Airdrie leapfrog above us with the win and drop us to 6th for the first time in a fair while albeit we have that game in hand. Wins tonight for Partick and Ross County close the table right up again also and it's certainly crucial we don't lose to Hamilton on Saturday.

Ewan Lithgow
Photograph - David Gow

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