Forfar Athletic 1
Michael Dunlop 78
Patrick Boyle 57
Forfar Athletic had Michael Dunlop to thank for rescuing a point against Airdrieonians on Saturday.
The Loons dropped to second after Stranraer won, with both sides on the same points but the Stair Park men have a slightly better goal difference.
Omar Kader dropped to the bench for last week’s match winner Martyn Fotheringham, this being his first start of the season.
Forfar had the first chance after eight minutes, Dale Hilson heading over after Fotheringham swung in a corner. Marc Fitzpatrick fired wide from the edge of the box three minutes later before Bryan Prunty’s shot, after a free kick took a deflection, was brilliantly saved by Rab Douglas.
The Forfar defence had to look sharp to clear a Lister header off the line in the seventeenth minute, while at the other end Stephen Husband threatened twice with shots from outside the box but the first one was blocked with Andy McNeil gathering the other.
Patrick Boyle struck a low free kick on the D of the box go wide of the mark as the Diamonds hunted for an opener.
In the 36th minute winger Nathan Blockley sent a header wide from Scott Fraser’s cross.
As half time approached Hilson beat McNeil to a ball in the box but as he readied himself to fire home McNeil nabbed the ball from his feet. The visitors had McNeil to thank again for keeping the game nil-nil on the stroke of half time, Fotheringham sending in a corner with Michael Dunlop stabbing the ball towards goal, McNeil saving the ball on the line.
Hilson really should have given the Loons the lead three minutes into the second half, after a long ball, he flicked the ball over the onrushing keeper, and when he took his shot the ball was cleared off the line by a defender.
Airdrie took the lead in the 57th minute, Boyle won the ball outside the Forfar box and curled home past Douglas.
They almost doubled their lead four minutes later when Ben Richards-Everton nodded over from Fitzpatrick’s corner.
Michael Dunlop put a header inches over the bar before he made a great challenge to deny Jim Lister at the other end.
Nathan Blockley saw his hooked effort hit the bar after he connected with Luca Gasparotto’s knock down from a corner.
Michael Dunlop equalised for Forfar with twelve minutes left, rising above everyone to meet Gavin Malin’s corner power a header into the top corner.
Malin almost set up another goal with a corner in the 82nd minute, finding Swankie who turned a defender but could only watch as his shot was parried by McNeil and then cleared.
McNeil had to be quick to catch another of Malin’s corners in the 86th minute, with Dunlop close to reaching the ball.
The subs made by Forfar looked to have them fired up, with Malin and Kader playing very well since coming on.
Forfar fans will be wondering how they didn’t score a winner in the 89th minute, with Airdrie’s defence scrambling to stop at least four chances. Firstly, Omar Kader saw a shot bloacked, the ball falling to Swankie, he tried to fire home, the defence knocking the ball out to the attack again, Chris Templeman beat a defender and saw his shot parried by McNeil. From this Gavin Malin tried to stab the ball home but was denied and a goalmouth scramble saw the ball cleared off the line at least once before it was cleared for a throw in.
Gavin Swankie had a free kick blocked by the wall, with Michael Dunlop sending a shot onto the roof of the net before the final whistle went.
The result means the Loons are now on 33 points, and with Stranraer beating Dunfermline, the Stair Park men are now equal on points, moving above us due to their +14 goal difference compared to our +11. Both sides are now five and six points ahead of full time teams Morton and Dunfermline.
Ramblings of a Loon’s Player of the Match: Michael Dunlop
Forfar Athletic: Rab Douglas, Mark Baxter, Jim Paterson, Michael Dunlop, Darren Dods, Scott Smith, Martyn Fotheringham (Omar Kader 61), Stephen Husband (Gavin Malin 69), Dale Hilson (Chris Templeman 72), Gavin Swankie, Danny Denholm.
Subs not used: Stuart Malcolm, James Dale, Aaron James, Ross Salmon (gk)
Airdrieonians: Andy McNeil, Chris O’Neill, Patrick Boyle, Ross Docherty, Luca Gasparotto, Ben Richards-Everton, Nathan Blockley, Marc Fitzpatrick, Jim Lister, Scott Fraser (Jamie Bain 83), Bryan Prunty (Keigan Parker 87)
Subs not used: John Boyle, Jamie Watson, Liam Watt, Scott Stewart, Rohan Ferguson (gk)