Petrofac Training Cup
Ayr United 3 v 1 Albion Rovers
Ayr United kicked off the competitive season with a Petrofac Training Cup first round fixture as they welcomed Albion Rovers to Somerset Park. It was the first chance for many to see the new look United side in action as all of Ian McCall’s summer recruits took the field. Albion Rovers had also added fresh faces to their squad to complement last season’s League Two title winning side with experience striker Andrew Barrowman and attacking midfielders Paul Willis and Mark Ferry all featuring. This had the potential to be an intriguing tie.
The opening period of the game was fairly scrappy as both teams felt their way back in to the new season. Ayr were looking to play a controlled passing game while Albion Rovers sat back and looked to hit on the break. They almost did just that in 4mins as striker Barrowman got on the end of a Scott McBride knock down to fire a well struck volley towards the Ayr goal. The ball skipped off the turf just in front of United stopper Greg Fleming but he reacted swiftly to turn the ball past the post.
The home side were looking good playing patient possession football but their opponents were very well organised preventing Ayr space and time on the ball. It took Ayr 19mins to breakthrough and create there first real chance. Gerry McLauchlan played the ball through to Alan Trouten whose drive went narrowly wide. Only 2mins later Trouten again provided the threat as Brian Gilmour lofted a ball towards the striker who allowed his first touch to take him into the box, only to be crowded out by the Albion defence who were on hand the clear the danger.
On 39mins Ayr did eventually break the away side’s resistance with a penalty which was won after some neat build up play. Ross Caldwell got on the end of Peter Murphy’s long ball and held the ball up well in the corner. He then picked out Gilmour who had supported the striker well and then it was all about skipper, Nicky Devlin’s bursting run into the Rovers penalty area in which Gilmour served an inch perfect pass to the onrushing full back. Just as he received the ball, Devlin was clipped by opposition defender Kyle Turnbull. As Albion Rovers protested the award of the penalty Trouten remained composed and slotted the ball to the trialist goal keeper’s left hand side, sending him the wrong way and giving his side a one goal advantage going into the break.
The Honest Men re-emerged for the second half looking much more positive and again Trouten was involved. He outmuscled his opponent on the left hand side before curling an effort towards the back post which was deflected for a corner. Ayr were causing problems from set pieces, especially from Brian Gilmour’s quality corners and this time Jamie Adams header was cleared from the line by full back Turnbull for a second corner in a row. Gilmour this time placed to ball onto head of United skipper Devlin who had invisibly drifted to the centre of the box and dispatched his header past the keeper from 8 yards. At 2 – 0 up, and with only 4mins of the second half on the clock Ayr, were now firmly in control of the tie.
Rovers should have pulled one back following the introduction of veteran striker John Gemmell and Alistair Love. The former flicked the ball on for Albion’s pacey winger Scott McBride and he delivered a sublime cross to Love who, with the goal at his mercy, fired straight at Fleming.
United were searching for the killer third goal and it almost came as Michael Donald pounced on a loose ball on the left wing before driving a cross into the box. Luckily for Rovers, captain Michael Dunlop managed to knock the ball past just as Ross Caldwell prepared to pounce. Much like the second goal the initial corner was knocked behind again, this time by Alan Reid but Ayr took full advantage of the resulting set piece. Again, Gilmour floated a perfect ball to the back post where Trouten had peeled away. The number 10 shifted the ball onto his right foot before floating a cross to the penalty spot where Caldwell rose to head into the far corner for his first goal for Ayr United. After 70mins and at 3-0 Ayr were looking very comfortable and playing some nice football.
On 92mins and with the last kick of the ball Albion Rovers pulled one back and they too got their goal from a set piece after some good football down the left. The ball was flicked on at the near post and Gemmell managed to keep the ball alive. Love, who was standing right in front of Fleming, tried to flick ball in from 5 yards but Fleming got a hand to it only for Love to finish at the second time of asking as he scuffed the ball into the corner.
Full time and it finished a comfortable 3-1 victory for Ayr United. A good, solid performance from the home side which provides a good foundation to build on for the forthcoming season and for the visit of Brechin City next weekend in the League Cup.
Fleming, Devlin, Boyle, Docherty, McLaughan, Murphy, Gilmour, Crawford, Caldwell, Trouten, Adams
Subs Donald, Nisbet, Muir, McCracken, McKenzie, Wardrope, Newman (GK)
Trialist, Reid, Turnbull, Young, R. Dunlop, M. Dunlop, Willis, Fisher, Barrowman, Mullen, McBride
Subs Gemmell, Ferry, Davidson, Murray (GK), Love
Referee: Gavin Ross