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NINE-MAN Stranraer slumped to a second defeat in four days, as league rivals Airdrieonians ran out comfortable winners at Excelsior Stadium.

Stevie Farrell switched to a 4-4-2 formation, with Stephen Okoh, Paul Woods, Kyle Turner and David Barron coming into the side at the expense of Grant Anderson, Scott Agnew, Morgyn Neill and captain Steven Bell.

The manager had asked for a response after Saturday's loss to St Mirren, and indeed the Blues were on the front foot for much of the early going.

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Ryan Wallace did find the back of the net early on - the former Airdrie man strode onto Jamie Hamill's inch-perfect through ball and blasted a powerful finish past the goalkeeper - but it was ruled out for offside.

It would be Hamill who once again produced the delivery as Liam Dick came close with a back post header, before Wallace was twice denied from a free kick, first by the wall, then by Airdrie keeper Rohan Ferguson.

However, the tide would turn almost immediately in the hosts' favour, against the run of play.

After a swift counter attack, home striker Cammy Russell drilled a low left footed strike from the edge of the box into the bottom right hand corner, leaving Belford no chance.

Russell almost doubled his tally - and Airdrie's lead - from an Andy Ryan lofted pass, but Belford made a crucial reflex stop to keep the deficit to one at the break.

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The Blues again started on the front foot, this time with Wallace setting up Okoh on the 18 yard line to test Ferguson with a decent effort.

Woods would be next to try his luck, cutting inside from the left and making space, but failing to worry the goalkeeper too much with the eventual shot.

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Andy Ryan has been the subject of transfer speculation over the summer and it was clear to see why, as the former Forfar man was a nuisance throughout.

It was another jinking run from the Diamonds striker which saw him fouled, but there seemed to be a case of mistaken identity as Barron was booked for a foul Hamill had appeared to have committed.

Hamill, as in previous games, wasn't afraid to have a pop at goal himself. The former Hearts and Kilmarnock man nearly levelled matters from Turner's short free kick, but his thunderous drive was turned past the post.

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The game would turn just after the hour mark, however.

An off-the-ball clash between Andy Ryan and Blues custodian Belford saw the visiting keeper dismissed, and Ryan duly stepped up to slot past the barely warmed up substitute goalie Max Currie.

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The contest was well and truly over just four minutes later. Airdrie's two previous goalscorers combined, as Ryan danced into the box and squared for Russell to tap home a third.

The Diamonds' star man had a chance to make it 4 after Woods was caught in possession, but fired wide with only Currie to beat.

Instead, it would be Stranraer to score next.

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Scott Robertson, wearing the captain's armband for the evening, rose to power home a header from the right hand side of goal to give the travelling support a giimmer of hope.

Having replaced Woods, Grant Anderson would test the keeper's resolve from distance, with Wallace narrowly missing out on converting the rebound.

But any lingering hope was well and truly dashed after Barron was penalised for fouling the rampant Ryan on the edge of the box.

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Referee Gavin Duncan consulted with his assistant, and showed the red card once more to round off a rotten night for Stevie Farrell's side.

With the Betfred Cup campaign now seemingly a write off, a friendly against Cumbernauld Colts on Saturday will provide an opportunity to blow off the cobwebs, before the final two Group H fixtures lead us into the league season.

Airdrieonians: Ferguson, Stewart, MacDonald, Cairns, McIntosh, Conroy, Leighton, Fitzpatrick (Higgins 61), Brown, Ryan, Russell (McLaughlin 82).
Not used: Thomson, Kerr.

Stranraer: Belford, Robertson, Barron, Lang, Dick, Turner (Currie 62), Hamill, Thomson, Woods (Anderson 80), Wallace, Okoh (Agnew 68).
Not used: Neill, Bell, Stoney, McGowan.

Referee: Gavin Duncan
Attendance: 490
HT: 1-0