Rangers had won the previous three meetings between the sides this season – with a 11-0 aggregate score – but there was to be no goalfest this time in a tighter affair.
There was a minute’s silence before kick-off to mark the anniversary of the Ibrox disaster, 43 years ago to the day.
Fraser Aird looked lively in the opening exchanges before Ian Black’s free-kick was headed into the side netting by Jon Daly.
Airdrie keeper Danny Rogers denied Nicky Clark but could do little when Macleod (18) brought down a long ball before finding the bottom corner.
James Lister headed into the arms of Cammy Bell, but the action was soon back down the other end, Lee Wallace, Macleod and Daly all going close to a second goal.
Airdrie’s Liam Watt did not quite get his angles right with an ambitious lob as the side – two points adrift at the bottom – strove manfully for a toehold.
Daly was the next to threaten for the visiting side but his header dropped wide of the target and Macleod could not hit the target with his 18-yard effort.
Airdrie found a second wind as the game entered the final quarter, Gregor Buchanan shaving the post with an overhead kick.
Clark was again denied by Rogers as Rangers pressed but Bilel Mohsni had to clear off the line from Willie McLaren before the visiting camp could celebrate a 17th win of the season.
But manager Ally McCoist’s mood will not have been improved as MacLeod hobbled off late on before Mohsni was shown a second yellow card as the players left the field.