DURING his first venture into management at the age of 31, Ian Murray brought a level of professionalism to Dumbarton which saw him take the club to within shouting distance of a promotion play-off spot in the Championship. In a similar way that the likes of Paul Hartley did to great effect at Alloa, Murray deployed as many full-time methods as he could to a part-time club.

An unsuccessful stint at St Mirren followed before he became assistant to Kevin Nicol at third-tier Norwegian side Asker. Subsequently, appointed as manager of Airdrie in October, it is perhaps surprising it took the best part of three years to take up another management position in Scotland.

There is still a long way to go in deciding where Airdrie will finish this season and Murray’s league record so far – three wins, three defeats and Saturday’s draw in a very tight league – has done little to provide any concrete answers. Nevertheless, supporters have already noticed little things like half-time warm-ups being more goal-oriented and less about six outfield players taking turns to whack it towards a solitary figure in the goal from long range.

Murray is demanding more on the pitch during games as well. The team’s work rate has improved since his arrival, with Dale Carrick the best embodiment of this. He and a number of players have improved in recent weeks.

Darryl Duffy had failed to find the net in League One this season before the appointment of Murray and has done so five times since, while Kyle Wilkie – though missing on Saturday – has been given a new lease of life just behind him in attack, scoring four goals in three games before being taken off at half-time in the defeat to Raith.

Leighton McIntosh has played himself into the starting line-up recently after a great display from the bench against East Fife, helping the side turn 0-2 reverse into a 4-2 home victory.

And while Saturday was his first goal under the new boss, like Carrick, his hard work has been a factor in Airdrie’s progress.

Improvement in the centre of midfield has been apparent also, with Kieran Millar and Grant Gallagher providing more bite in the centre of the pitch, but it is in defence where issues remain. The side has managed just just two clean sheets in eight matches under Murray, which is possibly why they prioritised preserving over extending their lead in the draw with Dumbarton on Saturday.

After defending well for the most part against Jim Duffy’s side, they were undone by an equaliser from Brad Spencer at the death. Even though it leaves Airdrie without a win in two, they’d won three on the bounce before that and their only defeat in the last five came against Raith at Stark’s Park – a side that hasn’t lost at home in the league since February 2017. 

WATCH: Dumbarton vs Airdrieonians

While Saturday’s draw may not have been the best evidence of the small steps taken by Murray’s side, the signs of improvement in such a short space of time are there to see.

There's method to Thistle's madness

The National:

WHAT’S behind Partick Thistle finally arresting their worrying form and securing their first victory in 10? Perhaps it was Gary Caldwell having his players well-drilled in the technique of counter-pressing. Or maybe it’s when he had them dumped in the forest, unsure of what was about to happen next, before being put through their paces and eventually kidnapped by the SAS. Surely it wasn’t when he had all his players speed-date one another in an attempt to get them to bond as a team more?

Whatever the reason, the 2-0 over Dunfermline could not have come soon enough after the Jags had slipped to the bottom of the Championship the week before following Falkirk’s win in Inverness. Alloa’s comeback against Falkirk this past weekend meant that Thistle’s win – courtesy of goals from Blair Spittal and Miles Storey – saw them jump above both sides and into eighth.

They were aided by a bizarre refereeing decision – what is it about Firhill that makes officials malfunction? – after Storey’s late strike was adjudged to have crossed the line when footage taken by a supporter behind the goal showed that, in fact, goalkeeper Lee Robinson had saved it.

Too many draws sees Clyde's title hopes fade

The National:

JUST over a month ago this column suggested that if Clyde had any ambition of winning League Two they’d have to buck up their ideas soon, starting with a victory away to league leaders Edinburgh City.

That they managed, recording an impressive 1-0 win – just the second time the capital side has tasted defeat this season – and Danny Lennon’s side has managed to stay unbeaten since.

Unfortunately, the four matches since the win at Ainslie Park have included three draws, and with City and Peterhead showing little, if any, sign of slowing down, even at this relatively early stage in the season, it would appear that Clyde’s best shot at promotion is via the play-offs.

While recent results have seen the Broadwood side give There’s method to Too many draws sees Clyde’s title hopes fade themselves a five-point cushion in third, they remain seven points off Peterhead in second and a further two behind City.

Both of those sides have a game in hand over Clyde which will come in the form of a top-of-the-table clash this evening. Saturday’s draw with Cowdenbeath – who themselves have put together a decent run of results lately – will be a frustrating one for Danny Lennon after John Rankin opened the scoring, capping off a wonderful team move to put his side ahead.

It was the 35-year-old’s second goal in as many games. A decent start from the away side, culminating in that goal, soon made way to some sloppy play handing the impetus to Cowdenbeath who got back on level terms through Jordan Allan.