The club shop will be closed today (Wednesday 12th November) and will reopen Thursday with the normal hours 12-4.
Tonight, Ayr United travel to the Indodrill Stadium looking to book a place in the William Hill Scottish Cup Fourth Round. A home tie against Hibernian awaits for the winner, a match that would evoke memories of United’s success against the Hibees in competition in the 2010/11 season where Mark Roberts scored a memorable goal in a replay at Somerset Park.
Barry Smith’s side recorded their first win in eight games at the weekend, with a 1-0 home win against Livingston. Liam Buchanan scored his fifth goal in six matches and the former United striker will again be one to watch tonight.
Read on for our match preview:
Marko says: “Its always good getting a break from the league and tonight is no different. We don’t have our troubles to seek with all the injuries and we may need to take a risk tonight to give ourselves the best possible chance of going through. Alloa are the favourites now with home advantage and they had a good result at the weekend however we know the prize at the end of it and we would love a shot at Hibs at Somerset in front of what would be a great crowd.”
Team news: Martyn Campbell, Mikey Donald, Peter Murphy and Robbie Crawford are out. Kevin Rutkiewicz is not eligible to play. Kevin McKinlay, Craig Beattie, Paul Slane, Brian Gilmour and Scott McLaughlin are all major doubts.
Head-to-Head (at Recreation Park): Ayr United wins – 24 Draws – 16 Alloa Athletic wins – 16
The Honest Men and the Wasps have met three times in the Scottish Cup at Recreation Park. Alloa were 2-1 winners in 1939 and again 1982 but United recorded a 3-0 win in 1998 thanks to an Ian Ferguson hat-trick.
Last Meeting: United’s last trip to Recreation Park was in February 2013. Goals from Liam Buchanan and Neil McGregor twice put Ayr ahead but a last minute Ben Gordon goal tied the game at 2-2, after Buchanan was controversially sent off twelve minutes before time. The Honest Men’s last midweek trip to Clackmannanshire saw striker Stephen Whalen score a hat-trick in a 3-2 win in March 2003.
On this day: Ayr United have played 15 times on 11th November, winning five times. The Honest Men faced Dundee in the final of the B&Q Centenary Cup on this date in 1990, losing out 3-2 after extra-time.
Match Officials: Referee: Don Robertson
Assistant Referee 1: Joseph Lawson Assistant Referee 2: Colin McDonald
Match & Travel Info: Adults £16, Senior Citizens £8 and juveniles (under 16s) £8. There are no student or unemployed discounts.
Stranraer 3 v 1 Ayr United
As kick off time approached this south west derby looked in serious danger of being postponed due to the torrential rain that lashed the Stair Park playing surface. Referee Colin Steven twice put off making a final call on whether the game should go ahead or not after two pitch inspections. After some discussion with both managers the referee finally agreed that the game could go ahead, a decision which led to a result that delighted Stranraer manager Stevie Aitken and left United boss Mark Roberts ruing his luck.
Much rode upon the outcome of this match. Stranraer’s recent demolition of Peterhead had allowed them to leapfrog United into 4th spot and a win would see them cement their position in the play-off zone. Having won 3 of the last 4 meetings against Ayr they were hot favourites to do just that.
It was United who initially adapted better to the conditions and after a cagey start from both teams Ayr were gained momentum, playing the better football on the deck, and catching Stranraer on the backfoot.
Early on, Stranraer looked shaky at the back and struggled to clear their lines as Ayr poured forward in the downpour. Former Ayr starlet Jackson Longridge got caught up in the puddled surface and his attempted pass out of defence fell to Ayr’s Alan Forest who set a course for goal. Longridge, in an attempt to retrieve the ball, could only knock the ball for a corner. The deeply hit corner was only partially cleared with the ball landing at the feet of Ayr’s John Paul McGovern. McGovern, with time and space, composed himself before blasting the ball high into the roof of the Stranraer net, giving United the lead in just 8mins.
Stranraer immediately reacted and took the game to Ayr with good runs from wingers Sean Winter and Willie Gibson causing Ayr some concern. United, however, had grown in confidence following their early goal and were playing some good football, utilising the wide areas through Forrest and Slane.
In the 26th minute, Willie Gibson whizzed a long range free-kick just past Hutton’s upright in as Stranraer began to increase pressure on the Ayr defence. Stranraer were coming into the game more and more and should have equalised four minutes later when former Ayr striker Craig Malcolm found himself free just 6 yards out but his first time volley missed the target as the Ayr defence breathed a collective sigh of relief.
In 36mins the Ayr defence finally cracked. With United apparently comfortable and dealing with most of what Stranraer could throw came the moment that would change the pattern of the game and deflate Ayr’s confidence. Central defenders, trialist Kevin Rutkiewicz and Nicky Devlin presented Stranraer with a goal scoring opportunity of almost comical proportions. With Ayr in possession at the half-way line, the two defenders failed to communicate their intentions and left the ball to each other, allowing Jamie Longworth to nip in, then charge towards the United penalty area. As the disbelieving Ayr defence rushed to make up ground on the speeding Longworth he played a square pass to the unmarked Craig Malcolm who coolly swept the ball past Hutton to level the score at 1-1.
As Stranraer seized the initiative Ayr were about to suffer a blow which weakened the heart of their defence. Peter Murphy rose to header clear but landed awkwardly and seemed to aggravate his pre-existing shoulder injury leaving him in considerable pain. He was replaced at half-time by Dale Shirkie, who moved into midfield, with Scot McLaughlin dropping back in to the heart of defence.
Surprisingly it was Ayr who could have regained the lead. In 48mins Alan Forrest was put clear in the box but his angled drive from close range was anticipated by Stranraer goalkeeper Mitchell who darted off his line to save.
Momentum build for Stranraer and their growing pressure finally paid off in 51mins. After some excellent build up play on the edge of Ayr’s penalty area, Winter released Gallagher behind the Ayr defence with a neatly executed pass. Gallagher raced towards the by-line before whipping a tremendous low cross along the edge of the 6 yards box towards an again unmarked Craig Malcolm who slid in at the back post to put his team ahead.
Stranraer were now well on top and a superb reverse pass from Willie Gibson released Sean Winter in on the Ayr goal. David Hutton however had sensed the danger and was quickly off his line to narrow the angle and make a fine save.
Mark Roberts threw caution to the wind in the 79th minute when he withdrew full back Andrew Muir replacing him with another youngster, forward Ryan Nisbet, while changing to a three man back line.
Unfortunately for Ayr it was Stranraer who took advantage of these changes as late sub Danny Stoney capitalised on the extra space. His great run and shot from the edge of the Ayr box in the 81st minute put the Blues 3-1 ahead and ended Ayr’s hopes of a revival.
Those Ayr fans who remained in the ground loudly voiced their discontent as the final whistle blew.
Attendance – 630
Hutton; Devlin; Muir; Trialist (Rutkiewicz); Murphy; Gilmour; Forrest; McLaughlin; Donnelly; McGovern; Slane
Newman; Shirkie; McKenzie; McArthur; Nisbet; McGill
Mitchell; Gallagher; Longridge; Rumsby; McKeown; Aitken; Winter; Bell; Malcolm; Longworth; Gibson
Tobin; Stoney; Russell; Marenghi; Forde; McCloskey; Robertson
Report – AU Media
Ayr United make the 51 mile trip down to the A77 on Saturday to face Stranraer. Mark Robert’s side have the division’s best record on the road, with 10 points from 5 games but will need to improve on a run of form that has seen the Honest Men lose four of their last five league matches
On form Stranraer’s only defeat in their last 10 games came on penalties against Livingston in the Challenge Cup. The Blues progressed to the fourth round of the Scottish Cup on Saturday with a 1-0 win at Peterhead. A 5-0 win over the same opponents five day previously propelled Stephen Aitken’s side into fourth spot, one point ahead of Ayr.
Marko says: ‘Its always a difficult game going down to Stranraer and even more so this time with the run of form they are in however we are very confident as we take down there the leagues best away record. Peterhead was our only loss away from home so we know that despite a few injuries we are taking a lot of quality there with us.’
Team news: Martyn Campbell, Kevin McKinlay, Robbie Crawford and Mikey Donald are all out for Saturdays match. Brian Gilmour and Craig Beattie are doubtful.
Head-to-Head (at Stair Park): Ayr United wins – 21 Draws – 4 Stranraer wins – 14
Stranraer need three more goals to reach the landmark of 100 against Ayr United. The Honest Men have netted 171 times in return.
Last Meeting: The sides last at Somerset Park 56 days ago when Stranraer recorded a 2-0 win with second-half goals from Grant Gallagher and Jamie Longworth. United were defeated 4-0 on their last trip to Stair Park in January.
- Stranraer striker Jamie Longworth is the leading goalscorer in League 1 with 7 goals. In all competitions the 27 year old has netted 9 times, 8 of which have come in his last 9 games.
- Seven of Stranraer’s last nine games have been away from home. Their only home game since the 27th September was a 5-0 win over Peterhead, over a month later.
On this day: Ayr’s last match on 8th November was also against Stranraer. The match at Somerset Park ended 3-2 to United, with David Gormley, Bryan Prunty and Willie Easton on the scoresheet. The Honest Men’s biggest win on this date came in 1958 when Dundee United were defeated 6-2.
Match Officials: Referee: Colin Steven
Assistant Referee 1: Graham McNeillie Assistant Referee 2: Colin McAlpine
Adults – £13
Concessions – £7
Under 16s – £5
AT the moment the A77 is closed and all traffic is being diverted through the A713 to Castle Douglas which is adding 45 minutes to an hour onto journeys. The road may be opened by Saturday morning however we advise to keep an eye on http://trafficscotland.org/ for updates.
The River Cottage Ayr United Travel Club are running a bus leaving at 11.45am and costing £10. Contact Jamie on 07792747354 or Tam on 07585328685 to book or for further details
Ayr United or Alloa Athletic have been drawn at home to Hibernian in the 4th round of the William Hill Scottish Cup. Ties will be played on the weekend of the 29th/30th of November.
Scottish Cup 3rd Round
Ayr United 1 v 1 Alloa Athletic
Arriving at Somerset Park these days, one could be forgiven for imagining the sound of incoming helicopters accompanied by the theme tune to M*A*S*H, or that the cast of Casualty had just rushed in through the main entrance as you approached. A morning of reading the national papers sports sections seems only to have given false hope; ‘only one man out’ they said ‘only one man out’. Reality strikes at the pre-match front door briefing as a simple request for details is responded to by what seems to be a never-ending list of names either out for the match or playing through injury. Out: Mikey Donald, Kevin McKinlay, Peter McGill, Robbie Crawford and gaffer Mark Roberts. Carrying injuries or niggles: Nicky Devlin, Peter Murphy, Alan Forrest, Brian Gilmour, and Craig Beattie.
Even the weather seemed to suggest impending doom as beautiful sunshine was replaced by a darkening sky as the clock ticked towards kick-off. But this was a cup tie and the 16 listed men were determined not to let their Championship opponents to come out on top.
Ayr took control early on with Gilmour, McLaughlin and McGovern dominating midfield and a positive United side utilising a quick passing and incisive style of play. In the opening minutes, Brian Gilmour slipped the ball to Nicky Devlin who sent a curling ball to the edge of the penalty area. Paul Slane’s attempted flick to reach Gilmour was blocked but came back to him and, although surrounded by four Alloa defenders, he managed to find JP McGovern whose shot from the edge of the box went narrowly wide.
More was to come as Ayr continued to push forward. JP McGovern found himself in acres of space on the right-hand side and took his time to place a beautifully flighted ball into the Alloa penalty box where Martyn Campbell rose to connect but unfortunately put the ball just over the bar.
In 23 minutes good work between Nicky Devlin and Scott McLaughlin created space in the last third and Ayr were unfortunate as McLaughlin’s shot went wide. McLaughlin’s continued intent was shown just four minutes later, when he picked up the ball just inside the Alloa half and spotted that keeper McDowall was off his line. His right-footed shot seemed destined for the top corner but the keeper scrambled back to save.
Alloa’s first real attempt on goal took 27 minutes to materialise. From a free kick some 25 yards out the ball was flicked sideways to midfielder Stephen Simmons who saw his shot deflected by the Ayr wall to the feet of former United striker Liam Buchanan. Buchanan showed some tricky feet and good close control but his efforts only resulted in a corner. Maybe this should have concerned United, but they were in so much control no one would have believed that misfiring Alloa would be the team to go ahead. But they did.
Just on 30 minutes, Alloa’s right back Michael Doyle picked up the ball just inside Ayr United half. He slipped the ball inside to Graeme Holmes who dragged it back and created space as United’s Gilmour slid past him. Holmes then played an inch perfect diagonal pass through and behind Ayr’s back four to the feet of the onrushing Buchannan who had darted into the penalty area. Although Ayr claimed for offside, Buchanan’s finish, from the narrowest of angles, was sublime, slamming the ball between goalkeeper Hutton and his nearside post into the top of the net.
As if going behind completely against the run of play was not bad enough, in 32 minutes Martyn Campbell pulled up sharply and signalled to the bench that he couldn’t carry on. Yet again Ayr’s injury jinx had struck and Campbell’s hamstring injury could see him out for a number of matches. Dale Shirkie came on for the big defender but moved into midfield, with Scott McLaughlin making his regular journey into the centre of defence.
If anyone thought that this double whammy would weaken Ayr’s resolve they’d have been so wrong. Ayr were determined to get back on level terms. In 33 minutes Dale Shirkie made space in the box and rose to reach a deft flick from JP McGovern but his header was saved.
Ayr didn’t have to wait long. In 34 minutes Brian Gilmour floated in a long high curling free-kick into the Alloa area, which central defender Ben Gordon could only knock behind his own goals. From the resultant corner kick JP McGovern’s low flighted ball was met on the 6 yard line by Ryan Donnelly who twisted his head hard to the right to turn the ball into the back of the net.
Ayr kept pressing and in the 38th minute Nicky Devlin charged down the right-hand flank leaving defenders in his wake before putting in a fast paced cross towards the front post. The Alloa defence failed to clear this effectively and the ball looped high into the air. Without letting the ball bounce, and with his back towards goal, Peter Murphy attempted an audacious overhead kick which flew across to the far post before going narrowly wide.
There followed a period of chances at either end with Ayr’s Forrest powerful strike being saved by McDowall; Alloa’s Buchannan putting the ball wide from a position almost identical to the one from which he had previously scored; and in 42 minutes a mix-up in the Ayr defence saw Peter Murphy almost knocking the ball into his own net before hooking it clear from the line.
As half-time arrived it appeared as if the gods had decided they had some left over weather from the previous night’s Halloween. The sky darkened even further, the wind rose and swirled, and the rain poured down. As the conditions changed it became obvious that all the players would find the second half a bit trickier.
Ayr started the second half with the same drive that they had shown in the first, while the half-time talk seemed to have concentrated the Alloa players on the task they had at hand.
In 52 minutes another excellent McGovern cross from the right landed right at the feet of Ayr’s Paul Slane, but his shot was well saved by keeper McDowall.
In the 55th minute Alloa were forced into a substitution, with David Weatherston coming on for midfielder Ryan McCord who appeared to have injured his back.
The game was becoming more and more competitive but Ayr still appeared to have the upper hand and were creating the majority of chances. In the 62nd minute Ayr as pushed down the left-hand side, Brian Gilmour spotted the opportunity to switch play. He found McGovern in the centre of midfield and he in turn set Nicky Devlin free on the right-hand side. Devlin charged forwards, beating Docherty for pace, reaching the goal line before slamming the ball across the six yard box. Alloa only managed to partially clear and the ball landed at the feet of the tireless JP McGovern some 25 yards out. As the Alloa defence tried to move out McGovern lifted the ball in over their heads allowing Ryan Donnelly to run in unmarked but his header was acrobatically saved by keeper McDowall.
In 67 minutes came the only booking of the game, and when it did come it was to a surprising recipient. In a game where numerous players had been warned repeatedly, and where full-time statistics show 9 fouls committed by Ayr and 14 by Alloa, it was Ayr United’s young left back Andrew Muir who ended up in the book. Muir certainly put in a tough tackle, but in the context of the match, no different to those which had previously resulted only in warnings.
Ayr decided to change things around a bit as they went all out for victory. On 70 minutes tiring young winger Alan Forrest made way for experienced striker Craig Beattie as Ayr tried to put more pressure on the Alloa back four.
In the 78th minute Liam Buchannan lifted a hopeful ball into the Ayr United penalty area which was comfortably nodded out by Scott McLaughlin: but the danger was not over. As Dale Shirkie rushed to recover the ball, Alloa’s Graeme Holmes reached the ball first and from some 25 yards out blasted it just over the bar.
After 80 minutes Ayr replaced Ryan Donnelly with Sean McKenzie and Alloa, Mark Docherty with Edward Ferns. Alloa also appeared to make a tactical change pushing extra players forward in an attempt to steal the game from United. On 82st minutes a moment of sublime skill from Alloa’s Stephen Simmons almost did just that. Capitalising on a poor United pass near the halfway line, Simmons strolled forward, noticed the keeper off his line, and lobbed the ball goalwards. Hutton could only grasp at thin air as the ball passed over but he breathed a sigh of relief as it rattled off the crossbar and was finally cleared.
Both teams huffed and puffed for the last 8 minutes but never really looked like scoring. As the full-time whistle sounded the Alloa player. seemed relieved not to be out of the tournament, while Ayr were left wondering why they had not won this match comfortably. All in all it was a much better display from Ayr this week, especially considering the pre-match injury concerns.
1 Hutton, 2 Devlin, 3 Muir, 4 Campbell, 5 Murphy, 6 Gilmour, 7 Forrest, 8 McLaughlin, 9 Donnelly, 10 McGovern, 11 Slane
12 McKenzie, 14 McArthur, 15 Beattie, 16 Shirkie, 19 Newman (GK)
21 McDowall, 2 Doyle, 3 Benedictus, 4 Gordon, 5 Meggatt, 6 Simmons, 7 Cawley, 8 McCord, 9 Buchanan, 10 Holmes,
12 Marr, 14 Ferns, 15 Weatherston, 16 Asghar, 17 Hetherington, 18 Tiffoney, 31 Couser (GK)
Ref: Don Robertson
Asst. Ref. 1: Joseph Lawson
Asst. Ref. 2: Colin McDonald
Also new this week are Ayr United notepads at £3.99 and three new styles of beanie hats.
The shop is open from 10am prior to our Scottish Cup tie against Alloa Athletic and during the week 12pm – 4pm.
Tel: +44 (0) 1292 263435
Fax:+44 (0) 1292 281314
Ayr United Football Club, Somerset Park Tryfield Place, Ayr, KA8 9NB