Scorers: Stranraer – Turner (61); Aidrieonians – Gallagher (12) and Wilkie (48)

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A STRIKE from birthday boy Kyle Turner counted for little as Grant Gallagher returned to haunt his old club.

The Blues attempted to stage a memorable fightback in the final half hour but found they had given themselves too much to do.

Gallagher’s first half strike was added to by Kyle Wilkie before Stranraer truly came to life.

Just 12 minutes were on the clock when former fans’ favourite Gallagher rifled home from inside the box.

Max Currie did exceptionally well to keep out Wilkie’s goalbound effort but it fell kindly to Gallagher who made no mistake from 12 yards.

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The goalkeeper was again involved midway through the first half.

This time, he had to scramble across the soaked turf to keep out Dale Carrick’s header.

Currie managed to push the ball onto the post before the ball came back off the number one and bounced to safety.

The best Stranraer had to show for the first half was an Innes Cameron – in for the injured Grant Anderson – header wide of the post.

Instead, the Diamonds had the ball in the net for a second time shortly before the break.

Darryl Duffy reacted quickest to a mishit shot and diverted the ball into the path of Carrick with a clever backheel.

The former Hearts man tucked the ball beyond Currie but the offside flag was already raised.

Stranraer needed to start the second half quickly if they were to find a way back into the tie.

Instead, it would be the visitors who got what, ultimately, proved to be the winner.

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Stranraer’s defending was not clever inside the box and Wilkie made the most of the indecision to poke the ball home from close range.

It was difficult to see where any comeback might come from but a series of corners gave the Blues hope.

Shortly afterwards they got their goal with Luke Donnelly turning provider for Turner.

The midfielder still had plenty to do but fired his angled drive beyond Ben McKenzie.

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Incredibly, the game was almost turned on its head just three minutes later.

This time, it was all Donnelly’s hard work as he showed sublime footwork to find a yard of space to curl an effort on goal.

Agonisingly, it struck the base of the post and bounced to safety with McKenzie well beaten.

The home side was now full of confidence and increasingly threw men forward in a bid to find an equaliser.

Understandably, it left gaps at the back and it took a fine goal line block from Jamie Hamill, whose downward header had been cleared at the other end, to deny substitute Leighton McIntosh.

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Donnelly almost set Stranraer substitute Ian Smith through on goal but the Diamonds would hold out for all three points and Ian Murray’s first win in charge.

Stevie Farrell was quick to stress his team were simply not good enough in the first half and quickly urged them to turn their attention to a trip to Montrose next weekend.

Stranraer: Currie, McDonald (Lamont 53), Brownlie, D Smith, Hamill, Cummins, Higgins (I Smith 79), Turner, Cameron (McManus 53), Crossan, Donnelly.
Not used: Ashmore, McGowan, Diver and Avci.

Airdrieonians: McKenzie, O’Neil, MacDonald, Crighton, Page, Millar, Victoria (Stewart 83), Gallagher, Duffy (McIntosh 77), Wilkie, Carrick (Cairns 90).
Not used: Russell, Conroy, Robertson and Sharkey.

Referee: John McKendrick
Attendance: 326
HT: 0-1

Photos: Stranraer FC

Interviews and highlights to follow

SPFL 3L1 6474

1 Raith Rovers 28 53
2 Falkirk 28 52
3 Airdrieonians 28 48
4 Montrose 28 47
5 East Fife 28 45
6 Dumbarton 28 38
7 Clyde 28 34
8 Peterhead 27 26
9 Forfar Athletic 28 24
10 Stranraer 27 16