“We are... stayin’ up, say we are... stayin’ up” the Lichties fans chanted before kick-off, full of hope that their heroes could pull off the great escape and beat the drop on the final day of the season.
Sadly it wasn’t to be as late goals in each half gave Airdrieonians a 2-0 win and condemned Paul Sheerin’s men to SPFL League Two football next season. The Gayfield side went into this game knowing that if they could better East Fife’s result against Ayr United then they would leapfrog them into the play-off place and live to fight another day.
Arbroath started well and took the game to the home side, who had already secured their League One status weeks earlier.
Paul McManus had the first sight of goal but he couldn’t direct his header on target, although the intent was there – the visitors were not going down without a fight.
There was plenty of one-touch football on show – but unfortunately it was one touch then out of touch as both teams struggled to impose themselves.
However, the game turned in the space of five minutes at the end of the first half.
McManus appeared to be bundled over in the box by Airdrie defender Stefan Milojevic but referee Colin Steven waved away the frantic appeals for a penalty by the Arbroath players, who were convinced they should have had a spot-kick.
Then right on the stroke of half time, Airdrie went in front. Keigan Parker’s corner fell into the path of Caolan McAleer, who lashed the ball high into the net. A cruel blow for Arbroath.
The second half started pretty much the same way as the first, with Arbroath doing much of the pressing but lacking the killer final pass.
Bobby Linn was foraging away trying to link up with Kenny Deuchar up front and the little midfielder had a couple of efforts at goal but couldn’t trouble Grant Adam in the Airdrie goal.
With news filtering through that East Fife were losing at Ayr, Sheerin tried to cajole his players into giving even more. They responded well to their gaffer, with Alan Cook firing a shot at goal and Deuchar just failing to get on the end of a Linn cross into the box.
Much like the first period, the game became scrappy, Arbroath trying to find a way through the home defence and Airdrie quite content to try to hit on the break at any opportunity.
There was a let-off for the Lichties in 75 minutes when Airdrie sub Liam Coogans somehow managed to scoop the ball over the bar from three yards out when it looked easier to score and the collective sigh of relief from the Angus men was clear to see.
They knew that one goal could see them grab themselves a relegation lifeline – but a goal did come... at the other end. Coogans made up for his earlier miss as he scrambled home a corner from close range to seal the win and send the Lichties down to the bottom tier.