Airdrieonians 3 v 0 Ayr United
Ayr travelled to the Excelsior Stadium on Saturday struggling to find some form having collected only 4 points in their last 11 league games. Airdrie’s home advantage and good recent form made them odds on favourites going in to this final league fixture of 2014, having recently beaten Dunfermline and held league leaders Forfar to a 1-1 draw at Station Park last Saturday, on the way to a 3 game unbeaten run.
It was Airdrie, as expected, who looked sharper in the opening stages with former Ayr forward Bryan Prunty looking lively alongside strike partner James Lister. And with just 8mins on the clock the lively duo combined to give Airdrie the lead.
A simple lobbed pass down the left hand channel caught out a sluggish Ayr defence as James Lister showed a good turn of pace to get goal side of Scott McLaughlin and shrug of his challenge. He then turned towards goal and drove an angled volley towards the opposite post. David Hutton did well to get a hand to the fiercely struck shot but his parried save fell kindly for former Ayr striker Prunty who headed the loose ball into the empty net from 5 yards to give Airdrie an early lead.
Ayr were forced in to making an immediate change as Peter Murphy limped off with a calf injury and was replaced in the heart of the Ayr defence by Kevin McKinlay.
In 11 minutes with Ayr still adjusting to the changes in the back four James Lister almost took advantage of the uncertainty in the United defence when put clean through on goal. Fortunately for Ayr he hesitated for a split second, this allowed Mikey Donald to get in a challenge and force Lister in to rushing his shot that ended sailing aimlessly over the bar.
Ayr almost got back in the game in the 19th minute after a spell of sustained pressure ended with a shot from Alan Forrest from 18 yards that forced Airdrie goalkeeper Andrew McNeil in to making a good save.
This respite for Ayr didn’t last long as in 20 mins Kevin McKinlay was caught in possession by Bryan Prunty just outside Ayr’s penalty area. He then had an easy run in on goal before showing good composure to score from 12 yards.
Ayr attempted to take the game to Airdrie but even with spells of possession they lacked the creativity and invention to trouble the Airdrie defence, in fact it was Airdrie who nearly scored again but Bryan Prunty’s header at the back post from a James Lister cross drifted just wide of the post.
At the start of the second half a great four man passing move from Ayr almost opened up the Airdrie defence. Ryan Donnelly received the final pass in space just inside Airdrie’s penalty box and just as he was set to shoot a terrific last gasp challenge by Airdrie defender Chris O’Neil denied him and Ayr a rare opportunity.
Ayr started gaining more possession as the game opened up but were still unable to cause Airdrie any real problems. United again had to make adjustments through injury as Brian Gilmour limped off with an ankle problem and was replaced by Paul Slane in 57mins.
Unfortunately for Ayr and Paul Slane things were not going to turn out well. After only 15mins on the pitch he cut in from the wing and over ran with the ball before losing control. In an attempt to retrieve possession he lunged in to a tackle that saw him upend Airdrie defender Paddy Boyle. And before Boyle had hit the surface referee George Salmond was already going for his card but to Ayr and Paul Slane’s dismay it was red. The Ayr player was then given his marching orders to give United a mountain to climb.
Ayr’s day then went from bad to worse in the 79th minute when a ludicrous mix up in defence saw Ayr concede a third goal. Ayr keeper David Hutton and his defenders all left a low cross to each other before it was deflected into the Ayr net, off the leg of Kevin McKinlay for an own goal, to end a miserable day for United as Airdrie comfortably ran out 3-0 winners.
Attendance – 1023
Hutton, Devlin, Crawford, Murphy, Beattie, Gilmour, Forrest, McLaughlin, Donnelly, McGovern, Donald. Subs: Slane, McKinlay, McKenzie, Muir, McArthur, McGill, Newman
McNeil, O’Neil, Boyle, Docherty, Gasparotto, Richards-Everton, Blockley, Fitzpatrick, Lister, Fraser, Prunty. Subs: Bain, Parker, Boyle, Gray, Ferguson, Watt, Stewart