Mar 25 2012 By Colin Paterson
IRN-BRU SECOND DIVISION:
AIRDRIE 2 ARBROATH 0
GOALS from Paul Lovering and Willie McLaren made it a hat-trick of clean-sheet wins for Airdrie.
The Diamonds closed the gap to the promotion play-off zone to just two points with victory at New Broomfield on Saturday.
Airdrie boss Jimmy Boyle made four changes to his side following last weekend’s 3-0 victory over Forfar Athletic.
Rangers kid Euan McNeil made his debut for the Diamonds after signing for the club with Kieron Stallard, McLaren and John Boyle also coming in.
Suspension ruled out Jamie Stevenson while Ricki Lamie and Derek Holmes dropped to the bench. Midfielder Nathan Blockley missed out altogether.
Arbroath were looking to maintain their unbeaten record against Airdrie having taken five points from a possible nine in three previous meetings this term.
But there was little for the main stand crowd to get excited about in the first half with goalscoring opportunities at a premium.
Jamie Bain, after outpacing full-back Kieran McAnespie, had an effort blocked wide by Smokies keeper Darren Hill who then denied Boyle at his near post.
Arbroath were playing the better football and looked a good side when given time and space but rarely tested Diamonds custodian Grant Adam.
The best opportunity for the visitors fell to player/manager Paul Sheerin when his fierce drive was held by the keeper in the 24th minute.
The visitors came close early in the second half when substitute Craig Wedderburn headed a Sheerin cross just over the bar.
But it was Airdrie who broke the deadlock in the 74th minute. McLaren drove in a corner which was powerfully headed into the top corner of the net by Lovering.
Top goalscorer Ryan Donnelly could have made it 2-0 for the home side but his header, from a Lovering cross, was held by Hill.
Airdrie wrapped up the points in the fourth minute of injury-time when McLaren lobbed the ball into the net.
Airdrie: Adam; McNeil, Lilley (Lamie 90), MacDonald, Lovering; Bain, Stallard, Lynch, McLaren; Boyle (Holmes 66), Donnelly (Keast 87).
Subs not used: Watt, Duncan(gk).
Booked: Lovering, Lynch.
Arbroath: Hill; Baxter (Sibanda 45), Malcolm, Innes, McAnespie (Wedderburn 26); Kerr, Mair (Samuel 67); Falkingham, Caddis, Sheerin; Doris.
Subs not used: Gibson, White(gk).
Referee: Gary Hilland.