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Tuesday, 26 September, 2000, 23:03 GMT 00:03 UK
Stranraer 2-4 Airdrieonians
Airdrie are celebrating a place in the Challenge Cup final
Airdrie are celebrating a place in the Challenge Cup final
(after extra time, 90 minutes 2-2)

Airdrieonians at last gave Steve Archibald something to smile about as the First Division's bottom team reached the Challenge Cup final.

However, they were forced to battle all the way by Second Division leaders Stranraer.

Stranraer, with home advantage, twice came back from behind to take the tie in to extra time before Airdrie's multi-national side eventually won the semi-final with goals from Stuart Taylor and Stephen McKeown.

Airdrie were without the injured Miguel Alfonso, while veteran Tommy Bryce was cup-tied for Stranraer.

Amazing opening

However, Billy McDonald had recovered from injury and started the game, while Greg McDonald returned to the bench as the home side went out to repeat their Challenge Cup success of 1996.

Both sides had scored twice in an amazing opening 20 minutes.

Airdrie's Martin Prest had been a doubt before kick-off, but he started the game and made the breakthrough after only three minutes.

Ian Harty (right) scored for Stranraer
Ian Harty (right) scored for Stranraer
Ian Harty replied for Stranraer five minutes later as his side aimed to bounce back after Saturday's league defeat away to Stirling Albion.

Airdrie striker David Fernandez, though, put the visitors ahead again after 10 minutes.

That lead only lasted 10 minutes this time, Stranraer forward Duncan George putting the second division side back on level terms with a shot that cannoned off both posts.

Airdrie's only cup defeat of the season came at the hands of Premier League Dundee United on penalities in the League Cup.

They were again forced into extra-time at Stair Park, but there was no need for penalties this time.

Still struggling

Archibald, still struggling to take financial control of the club, has brought in a number of foreign players.

However, it was two of his remaining Scottish contingent who settled the game, midfielder Taylor heading the Lanarkshire side ahead in a crowded goalmouth after 101 minutes and substitute striker McKeown completing the scoring 12 minutes later against the tiring part-timers.

Now Airdrie can look forward to doing battle again in the final with First Division leaders Livingston, who defeated them narrowly in the league on Saturday,.

Stranraer: McGeown, Johnstone, McMillan, Knox, Wright, Paterson, Blair, George, Geraghty, Harty, B. McDonald.

Subs: Blaikie, G. McDonald, Edgar, Hughes, O'Neil.

Airdrieonians: Broto, Armstrong, McAlpine, Taylor, Forrest, Moreau, Brady, Prest, Elliott, Sanjuan, Fernandez.

Subs: B. Elliot, Coulter, McKeown, Pacifico, Wilson.

Referee: K Clark.

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See also:

26 Sep 00 |  Scotland
Livingston 2-1 East Stirlingshire
25 Sep 00 |  Scotland
Stranraer v Airdrieonians preview
23 Sep 00 |  Scot Div 1
Airdrieonians 1-2 Livingston
23 Sep 00 |  Scot Div 2
Stirling Albion 2-0 Stranraer
20 Sep 00 |  Airdrieonians
Airdrie clinch spot in semis
13 Sep 00 |  Scotland
Stranraer 3-2 Arbroath
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