Ayr United 2 v 1 Brechin City
For those of us who arrived early at the ground on Saturday it looked like it would take a miracle for this game to go ahead but we should never underestimate the ground staff and volunteering Ayr United fans. Armed with nothing more than great determination and a gardening fork each they managed to remove the surface water and with some additional effort at half-time made sure the match was played to the final whistle. It was certainly touch and go with referee Nick Walsh scrutinising the ground conditions both before the match and at half-time.
Manager Ian McCall was full of praise for the volunteers who made sure that the Honest Men were able to play and gained three valuable points in the chase against league leaders Dunfermline.
It was also a tribute to the style of football United are playing, along with the return of fan’s favourite Ryan Stevenson, that 1,485 hardy souls were willing to attend through the incessant downpour. The majority huddled in the Somerset Road end playing their part as a noisy 12th man whilst the bravest of the brave stood beneath umbrellas on the North Terrace.
United dominated the majority of this match but Brechin City showed enough to suggest that they will be able to pull off many an upset as the season progresses with their on loan from Alloa striker Isaac Layne oozing quality up front. The front man even managed to give Ayr a scare in under a minute as he drove into the United box before hitting the ball into the side netting with his left foot.
Ayr were, however, determined to stamp their authority on the game and in 4 mins United were ahead. The Honest Men gained a corner after returning hero Ryan Stevenson’s powerful freekick from 35 yards out smashed off the head of a defender and flew over. Brian Gilmour took a short freekick to Mikey Donald whose beautifully flighted left-footed cross was nodded away from Jordan Preston at the back post. The ball dropped to Alan Forrest on the edge of the penalty area and he showed great composure to side foot the ball into the net through a ruck of players.
In 11 mins United again went close. Nicky Devlin played a precise long pass to Craig Moore who had dropped into the centre of midfield. Moore then worked himself forward before passing to Forrest on his left. Forrest gained more ground as he moved into the centre before finding Moore again at the edge of the penalty area. With a touch and a sidestep Moore created space for himself before smashing a drive off the bar with Brechin keeper Smith rooted on the goal-line.
On 13 mins Ayr were two up. After a glorious inter-passing build-up down the right with multiple touches from Devlin, Gilmour and Stevenson, Alan Trouten played the ball behind the defence and into the box where it was met by the overlapping Devlin. Devlin flicked the ball towards Moore some 10 yards out and with the goal beckoning but just as he was about to connect Brechin’s David Weatherston managed to poke in a toe and knock the ball away. Mikey Donald collected the ball and brought out a good save from keeper Smith at his left-hand post but the ball span upwards. Defender Darren McCormack and Craig Moore jumped together some 40 yards out but with neither getting their head to the ball which fell downward. Moore flicked out his foot made contact and the ball was in the back of the net. 2 – 0 Ayr.
Ayr were totally in charge playing some delightful football on a challenging surface but Brechin were still making some chances on the break. In 16 minutes Layne again broke into the box and his low stinging drive was stopped on the line by Devlin.
On 31 mins Brechin had three chances to draw one back. Winger Dene Shields beautifully controlled the ball on his chest from a long flighted freekick before turning Mikey Donald and reaching the by-line first. Shields’ flighted cross was met by Layne who nodded the ball down into the 6-yard box. Striker Andy Jackson was first to react but goalkeeper Greg Fleming was equal to him, blocking his shot and diverting the ball away from the goals. Layne pounced on the ball at the penalty spot, turned and hit it goalwards only to see it ricocheted back off the bar. A partial clearance saw the ball return to Layne but his shot was blocked by the flying body of Brian Gilmour and away to safety.
At half-time the score remained 2 – 1 to United.
Ayr continued to dominate as they moved into the second half creating a number of goal scoring opportunities which the just couldn’t take. Alan Trouten must be wondering how he had walked off the field with at least a hat-trick as on three occasions he was put through putting one past the post, having another cleared off the line by defender William Dyer, and a final attempt blocked by Smith in the Brechin goals.
Gilmour, Forrest, Preston and substitute Caldwell also had chances but Ayr failed to add any further goals to underline their dominance.
On 85 mins came a nasty incident when Brechin substitute Jonathan Tiffoney went over the ball after a lunging slide tackle and straight into the shin and ankle of Ayr playmaker Brian Gilmour. For most fans this appeared to be a direct sending-off offence but referee Walsh decided to only book the former Ayr man as Gilmour had to be carried off to take no further part.
This took Ayr down to only 10 men as all substitutes had been used and Brechin attempted to make full advantage of this. With 91 mins on the clock they struck.
Goalkeeper Smith came some 40 yards outside his box to take a freekick which he launched towards the Ayr United penalty area. With a slight knock on the ball reached Dene Shields in the penalty area and he played the ball across the 6-yard line. In what could only be described as a ‘stramash’ the ball was blocked three times by keeper Fleming before finally substitute Robert Thomson thumped it into the net.
As United players left the rain sodden pitch they could be happy with the result of this hard shift but could only wonder how they had only won by one goal.
Fleming, Devlin, Donald, Murphy, Graham, Stevenson, Gilmour, Moore, Preston, Trouten, Forrest Substitutes Newman (GK), McLauchlan, Crawford, Caldwell, Muir, McCracken, McKenzie.
G. Smith, McLean, Dyer, McCormack, Fusco, E. Smith, Weatherston, Molloy, Jackson, Layne, Shields Substitutes O’Neil (GK), Thomson, Montgomery, Johnston, Tiffoney
Referee: Nick Walsh
Match Report: AUmedia