Ian Murray revealed Rangers and Real Madrid were the inspiration for Airdrie’s astonishing comeback after they booked their place in the Championship play-off final.
The Diamonds gaffer watched his side, who trailed Montrose 1-0 from the first leg, stun the Gable Endies in a 10-goal thriller that saw them win 6-4 after extra-time and progress 6-5 on aggregate.
Incredibly, Airdrie found themselves 3-0 down in the tie before the most unbelievable scenes at New Broomfield that saw fans flood the pitch at the final whistle in celebration.
Cammy F Ballantyne’s first half brace looked to have put Montrose – who finished a huge 13 points behind Airdrie in League One this season – well on their way to booking a place in the final.
However, Airdrie produced a comeback for the ages with Callum Smith netting a second half hat-trick in between a Lewis Milne strike for Montrose, before Calum Gallagher’s 87th minute goal forced extra-time.
In the additional period, Celtic loanee Jon Afolabi struck in first half stoppage time before Gabby McGill’s effort in 119 minutes proved decisive in the tie, after Martin Rennie netted in stoppage time for Montrose to see Airdrie prevail 6-5 on aggregate.
Airdrie now face Queen’s Park over two legs in next week’s final.
And Murray said watching Rangers’ comeback heroics in the Europa League semi-finals against RB Leipzig and Real Madrid’s extra-time triumph against the odds to sink Manchester City in the Champions League gave his side the belief they could pull off a miracle.
The stunned boss and former Rangers defender said: “It’s just incredible.
“We took a lot of heart from watching other teams come back this week like Real Madrid and Rangers and we said never give up in football.
“At half-time I said don’t throw in the towel.
“We were 3-0 down and we had nothing to lose, but the boys responded like they have just about every week now.
“Football changes so quickly.
“When we conceded that third goal the whole place went flat.
“But we scored straight after and then we got Gal’s goal.
“After that we were in the ascendancy and what the boys did out there was ridiculous.
“It’s a whole host of emotions over the two ties.
“We were poor in the first leg and poor in the first half here. We let in really cheap goals, but the way we came back was absolutely incredible.
“I have to say commiserations to Montrose because it’s a horrible feeling, and I get that. They are a great side.”
The Diamonds have just a few days to prepare for the first leg of their play-off final, with Queen’s Park hosting them at Firhill on Thursday night, followed by the second leg next Sunday at New Broomfield.
Murray is looking forward to the final against a side they have gotten the better of this season, but is frustrated by the quick turnaround.
He added: We need to get ourselves ready for a brilliant finale with Queen’s Park.
“It’s going to be a really tight match, but the main thing is we are there.
“We are going to have to recover quickly.
“It’s not a good schedule we’ve been given. All teams needed another week.
“To go straight into these play-off games after a long time, we need to change that.
“It’s not fair. It’s something I’m not happy about but I’m delighted we are there.”
Gutted Gable Endies boss Stewart Petrie said: “It’s a shit way to end the season.
“When you concede four goals in the second half, it’s not good enough.
“We gave ourselves a great position to get ourselves into a final, but we lose so many soft goals from our point of view.
“Credit to Airdrie. We knew they would throw everything at us, but we’ve fallen short again.
“There’s worse things going on in the world than a football match, but it’s a sore one.”
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