LAST AC­TION HERO

Iain’s late win­ner at Rovers was one of his ca­reer high­lights

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - Mon­k­lands Derby Day Spe­cial - Mark Pirie

A won­der goal and a last- minute win­ner – those are for­mer Di­a­mond Iain Rus­sell’s finest Mon­k­lands derby mem­o­ries.

In a dra­matic af­ter­noon last term, Air­drie bat­tled for a 4- 3 win at Clifton­hill with boy­hood fan Rus­sell smash­ing home the vol­ley from range be­fore Sean McIn­tosh headed in the late win­ner.

The 35- year- old went through the New Broom­field exit last sum­mer as he an­nounced his re­tire­ment from the game. How­ever, he made his come­back to the game with Cham­pi­onship side Dum­bar­ton after a change in work com­mit­ments.

Rus­sell holds the dra­matic day back in March as one of the high­lights of his ca­reer – and has called for his ex­team­mates to cre­ate more great mem­o­ries against their ML5 neigh­bours.

“I’ve had the cup fi­nal ex­pe­ri­ence now wi t h Dum­bar­ton [ Irn- Bru Cup Fi­nal de­feat to In­ver­ness], but play­ing for your boy­hood club and scor­ing in a lo­cal derby is re­ally spe­cial,” he told the Ad­ver­tiser.

“Ob­vi­ously with Sean scor­ing at the end of the game we get the win and run into the crowd and are able to cel­e­brate with the fans.

“It ’ s some­thing that will al­ways stay with me. Ob­vi­ously we didn’t do as well in the home der­bies last sea­son.

“They were games that we strug­gled in, but it’s a chance for the boys to put that right this sea­son.”

Rus­sell has al­most been stand­ing in No Man’s Land this sea­son for the Di­a­monds.

Hav­ing spent time train­ing with the club be­fore mak­ing his switch to the Sons, Rus­sell was a fan in the camp dur­ing the cri­sis-hit months at the end of the for­mer owner and chair­man Tom Wother­spoon’s era at the club.

The ex-skip­per feels that this has been a huge fac­tor in the strug­gles of the side this sea­son as they lan­guish in mid-ta­ble.

Hav­ing come within a penalty shoot-out of the play­off fi­nal dur­ing his Air­drie spell, the for­ward feels that they may have over­achieved with the squad they had.

How­ever, he has backed man­ager Stephen Find­lay and as­sis­tant Marc Fitz­patrick to mount a pro­mo­tion bid next term.

“I still keep in touch with the boys. We had a good team and a re­ally good team spirit,” said the Cham­pi­onship player.

“Prob­a­bly, look­ing back on it, we un­der­es­ti­mated how well we did with the play­ers we had. The team hasn’t changed too much but has strug­gled a bit this sea­son.

“It’s been a tough sea­son for the club off the park and that’s ob­vi­ously played its part. I trained with the club up un­til De­cem­ber and the man­ager has come in with a lot of good new ideas.

“It has just been tough this sea­son to turn around the form with all the tur­moil at the club. And you’ve got to re­mem­ber it’s a young squad who were go­ing through all that.

“They then have to go up against the likes of Ayr and Raith and es­tab­lished part­time teams like Al­loa and Ar­broath.

“On the park, this sea­son is just about sta­bil­ity.

“If they can get that I think they will do well next sea­son.

“Hope­fully they can make the play-offs or do even bet­ter than that.”

Pure joy Iain Rus­sell cel­e­brates his won­der strike in the Mon­k­lands derby

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