Late goals bury the Diamonds

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DESPITE their midweek exertions at Rugby Park, East Fife recorded their first win at the Excelsior Stadium on Saturday.

Although they did not have the most convincing of starts, the visitors took the initiative before being pegged back and scored a couple of goals in the last 10 minutes to take the points and move closer to the top three.

The only change from the League Cup match against Kilmarnock saw Craig Johnstone start and Darren Smith on the bench.

The home side opened enterprisingly and a run from Derek Holmes produced a chance, but David White and John Ovenstone combined to halt the danger.

East Fife came back into it with Rob Ogleby seeing his shot saved by home keeper Fairley, before Matthew Park and Craig Johnstone combined well on the left.

But United could have taken the lead when a Stevenson free kick hit the post.

Airdrie continued to press and Bain went down in the box as a result of a Robert Sloan tackle with referee McDermott pointing to the spot.

However, Mark Ridgers pushed Stevenson’s spot kick on to the post and safety.

The visitors made the home side pay when the opening goal came in 34 minutes.

A terrific pass from Ogleby found the prolific Wallace, who outpaced the home defence and shot past Fairley for the opener - his 12th goal of the season.

East Fife were in control now and another chance fell to Ogleby, but his shot, again, was too close to Fairley and the ‘keeper held.

The Diamonds stepped up the pace at the start of the second half but East Fife looked secure at the back and Ridgers was rarely troubled.

Former Airdrie man Wallace’s pace was giving the home defence problems but, when he latched on to a David Muir pass, he could not get his shot on target.

Ogleby had a chance following a Johnstone run and cross but the Airdrie defence ensured he did not get a shot away.

The hosts made two substitutions around the hour mark and Steve Hislop replaced Ogleby, but it was the home subs that caused the Fifers a few problems.

The move paid off when they equalised after 74 minutes, when Donnelly scored from a curling free kick.

Darren Smith, who had replaced Sloan just before the equaliser, helped get the Fifers back on the front foot again and the game started to swing their way.

With around 10 minutes remaining, a run from Linn was brought to an end with a lunge from Lovering. He was shown the red card and it turned out to be a very expensive foul.

Linn took the free-kick which found the lurking Johnstone, who controlled the ball well and finished off to put the Fifers back in front.

With the lead and a man advantage, the visitors looked comfortable and a Hislop effort brought a save from Fairley.

Ridgers did have to stay alert from the occasional foray by his former team-mates but they never seriously troubled him.

And the result was put beyond any doubt when, with a couple of minutes left, Bobby Linn scored the third, having cut in from the right and beat Fairley convincingly to wrap up the points.

Airdrie United - Fairley, Bain, Lovering, Lilley, Hill, Stevenson, Keast (Owens 63), Lynch, Donnelly, Devlin, Holmes (Morton 60). Subs (not used) - Malone, Sally, Duncan.

East Fife - Ridgers, Durie, Park, Ovenstone, White, Muir, Linn, Sloan (Smith 72), Ogleby (Hislop 67), Wallace (McQuade 88), Johnstone. Subs (not used) - Cook, Brown.

Referee - F. McDermott

Attendance - 849

Starcheck ratings - Linn 3 points, Johnstone 2, Wallace 1.

Starcheck table - Ryan Wallace 23, Bobby Linn 14, Mark Ridgers 12, Scott Durie 9, Craig Johnstone 9, John Ovenstone 7, Michael Brown 6, Darren Smith 6, Rob Ogleby 6, Matthew Park 5, Steve Campbell 3, David White 3, Chris Innes 2, Steve Hislop 1, David Muir 1, Lloyd Young 1.