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BBC Sport's Andy Gilles:
"Airdrie's long suffering fans at last have something to celebrate."
 real 14k

Club owner Steve Archibald:
"We're absolutely delighted."
 real 14k

Sunday, 19 November, 2000, 21:00 GMT
Airdrie lift Challenge Cup
Airdrie celebrate the Challenge Cup win
Airdrie celebrate the Bell's Challenge Cup win
Airdrie lifted much of the gloom that has shrouded them in recent times by winning the Bell's Scottish League Challenge Cup.

The Diamonds beat Livingston 3-2 in penalty shoot-out after an entertaining game had finished 2-2 at the end of extra time.

Spanish goalkeeper Javier Sanchez Boto was the hero for the financially beleaguered Lanarkshire club, saving three spot kicks to send the bulk of the 5,623 crowd at Broadwood wild with delight.

The eccentric custodian danced around on his line and pointed in the direction he wanted the ball to go as he won the psychological battle with the Livingston penalty takers.

Derek Fleming, Brian McPhee and Michael Hart were the unfortunate men denied by the antics and agility of Boto.

A happy day

The Airdrie keeper, who was watched by his mother, sister and aunt who had travelled from Spain, said that it was "a happy day" and dedicated the victory to the club's supporters.

Those sentiments were echoed by victorious manager Steve Archibald.

"It was great to see so many fans out there cheering us on, as they have all season, and I'm delighted that we have something to give them in reward for their loyalty," said the former Scotland international.


It's a good result for overall confidence and something to build on
  Steve Archibald
"It's a good result for overall confidence and something to build on."

Referring to his goalkeeper, Archibald said: "He's been a rock for us all season."

The Diamonds, taken to an additional half-hour in every round of the competition, twice equalised during the 90 minutes.

Scott Crabbe fired Livingston ahead with Martin Prest pulling one back soon after.

Steve Archibald holds the cup aloft
Steve Archibald holds the cup aloft
Centre half John Anderson restored the Lions' lead, but Airdrie continued to press forward and were rewarded when substitute David McGuire made the score 2-2.

The scoreline was the same when the teams last met on league duty just eight days previously.

Started brightly

Airdrie began the game brightly and were unlucky not to go in front after seven minutes when Antonio Calderon's shot struck the post.

Despite a subdued opening, Livingston opened the scoring 10 minutes later.

Crabbe pounced on an attempted clearance and cracked the ball home on the volley from 15 yards.

Airdrie continued to push forward and were rewarded for their hard work after 28 minutes.

Austin McCann went on a great run before crossing to Prest, who headed powerfully into the top corner of the net.

Towering figure

Five minutes into the second half Livingston went in front again when the towering figure of Anderson rose above a cluster of players to head home a Fleming free kick.

Airdrie almost drew level heading into the last 10 minutes when McCann again set up Prest, but this time the Spaniard's header was acrobatically tipped over the crossbar by Neil Alexander.

Substitute McGuire found the target from the resulting corner when he threw himself at McCann's cross to bullet a brave header home.

Airdrie looked more likely to grab a winner but could not break down the Livingston defence, sending the game into extra time.

Airdrie's Paul Armstrong shields the ball
Airdrie's Paul Armstrong shields the ball
The 30 minute extension was a tame affair with neither side prepared to commit numbers to attacking.

Fabrice Moreau went close for Airdrie with a 20 yard strike which flashed wide after 104 minutes.

Slotted home

Crabbe coolly slotted home the first of the deciding penalty kicks, with Jesus Garcia Sanjuan responding positively for Airdrie.

Fleming then saw his effort brilliantly saved by Broto, while Salvador Capin blasted his kick over the bar to keep the scores level.

Brian McPhee saw his weak shot saved and Prest fired Airdrie in front.

Mark McCulloch held his nerve to keep Livingston's hopes alive, but Moreau preserved the Diamonds' advantage.

The tie was settled when Boto dived to push away Hart's attempt.

Disappointment

Livingston manager Jim Leishman was quick to applaud Airdire, but could not hide his disappointment.

"All credit to Airdrie," said Leishman. "But at 2-1 I thought we were in control."

"It was a great occasion and the fans and both sets of players made it a day that the three divisions can be proud of."

Airdrie: J. Broto, Armstrong, McCann, Brady, Forrest, Ireland, Elliott, Moreau, Prest, Calderon, Fernandez.

Subs: Boyce, McGuire, Sanjuan, Capin, Phillips.

Livingston: Alexander, McManus, Fleming, Anderson, Coughlan, Deas, Wilson, McCulloch, Keith, Crabbe, Bingham.

Subs: Hart, McPhee, Hagen, McCormick, McEwan.

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See also:

17 Nov 00 |  Airdrieonians
Airdrie poised to land deal
11 Nov 00 |  Scot Div 1
Livingston 2-2 Airdrieonians
07 Nov 00 |  Airdrieonians
Airdrie take another survival step
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