A LATE penalty from Airdrieonians’ Rhys McCabe handed the Lanarkshire club a lifeline ahead of the Championship play-off final second leg at the Penny Cars Stadium on Sunday.

Simon Murray’s superb individual effort had given Queen’s Park a second-half lead at Firhill before McCabe struck from 12 yards with five minutes to go to leave the tie delicately poised.

The match got off to an entertaining start with both sides giving as good as they got. The first chance of note fell the way of the Spiders when Jai Quitongo headed Celtic loanee Luca Connell’s cross over the bar.

The same man really should have broken the deadlock on 34 minutes. Some nice play down the right saw Queen’s Park work the ball inside to Quitongo eight yards from goal, but Airdrie keeper Max Currie did well to deny the forward. Quitongo was then given a second bite at the cherry as the ball fell invitingly into his path but he blazed his effort over the bar.

The hosts grew into the game and established themselves as the dominant team as the second half kicked off. They peppered the away goal with a few half-chances before Murray gave his side the lead in impressive fashion.

The former Dundee and Hibernian forward received the ball with his back to goal 40 yards out, but a neat first touch and spin took the forward away from his marker Peter Grant. The 30-year-old drove menacingly at goal, bursting into the box before curling a delightful effort beyond the despairing reach of Currie.

It looked as though the Glasgow club would hold onto their advantage going into the second leg before a late rally from Ian Murray’s men resulted in an equaliser. Jonathan Afolabi latched onto a dinked ball into the box and was brought to ground by Queen’s Park keeper Calum Ferrie.

The referee pointed to the spot, McCabe stepped up to calmly slot the ball into the bottom corner and ensure his side didn’t leave Glasgow empty-handed.