Ayr Utd 3 Raith Rovers 0

Ayr United 3 v 0 Raith Rovers

by AUmedia

 

Although Raith came out of the stalls at pace, it was United who looked the more threatening and took the edge off the Rover’s with a well-crafted goal in 15 mins.  Ross Docherty found David Ferguson on the right and his cross was collected by Michael Moffat in the box. Moffat controlled the ball and held off defenders before slipping it to his striking partner, Lawrence Shankland. Shankland, back to goal, turned outside defender Robertson, before slamming the ball past keeper Smith and into the net. Ayr were one up and wouldn’t have to wait long before doubling their lead.

Six minutes later Robbie Crawford doubled United’s lead with a goal that was a thing of beauty and again Moffat was there with the assist.  Moffat picked up a ball from Shankland some 25 yards out on the left, turned, feigned a shot, created space before finding Crawford on the edge of the left side of the box with an inch perfect pass. Crawford seemed to relish the challenge of Jason Thomson moving in to mark him. With a deft flick to his right and a sharp increase of pace the United man made himself space to crisply curl the ball over the keeper’s head, off the underside of the bar, and into the net.

 United were firmly in command with Docherty, Jamie Adams, Andy Geggan and Crawford dominating the midfield battleground.  What was most surprising was that the men from Kirkcaldy did not have one memorable attempt in the whole first 45 mins.

The first half masterclass from United also saw a Paddy Boyle drive smothered by Smith, Michael Rose’s flick scrambled off the line, and a left-footed drive from Moffat, after a solo breakaway, go over the bar from the edge of the box.

Raith re-arranged at the break, desperate to get something from the game, pushing players forward in an attempt to put pressure on the United back four. Vaughan was first to try his luck with a shot from the edge of the box going into the side netting but with keeper Jordan Hart seeming to have it well covered.

On 49 mins, after Adams had been unceremoniously brought down, Rose rifled a low free kick from 20 yards through the Raith wall which keeper Smith could only block and let squirm from his grasp. Moffat was first to pounce but Smith threw himself in front again and the ball was deflected wide before being hooked clear.

On 57 mins Raith showed their first real moment of quality and it came close to clawing one back. Vaughan found himself boxed in at the corner on the right but used good body strength to get away from Docherty before nutmegging Boyle as he made his way into the penalty area along the line.  The midfielder dragged the ball back to substitute Court but as the ball returned to Vaughan the offside flag was raised and although the ball was eventually headed into the net by Buchanan it wouldn’t count.

Just 4 mins later and Ayr should have gone further ahead when Adams was tripped in the box by McHattie.  The usually reliable Michael Moffat stepped up but put the ball well over the bar. A miss was certainly not what the tireless striker deserved, his link up play and chance creation being first class and admirable.

Ayr continued to make chances while the backline soaked up all that the Raith attack could throw at them with Rose, Higgins, Ferguson, Boyle and Hart looking both defensively solid while ready to ignite forward movement.

On 83 mins Raith did manage one last chance through substitute Spence.  Creating space at the edge of the box, the Raith striker smashed a drive through the legs of Higgins but the un-sighted Hart got down quickly and saved well at his right-hand post.

Ayr moved straight back up the pitch. Crawford found himself clear in the box on the left, but his shot was blocked by Smith. Raith players were throwing their bodies in front of ball, Smith again blocked, this time from Shankland, before substitute Craig Moore’s follow up drive thumped off a wall of players and clear.

90 + 2 mins on the clock and late substitute Alan Forrest picked up the ball in his own half before driving forward to some 30 yards out then slipping the ball diagonally to Geggan in space at the edge of the ball on the right. The defence were pulled one way and then the other as Geggan expertly lifted the ball to the back post where on-rushing Moore headered home.

Scintillating stuff from the Honest Men who had not one failure either on the park or terraces of stand.

Next up, the long journey north to Spain Park, Aberdeen on Saturday to face SJFA North Premier League side, and prolific goal scorers, Banks o’ Dee in the Scottish Cup.

Ayr United

Hart, Ferguson, Higgins, Rose, Boyle, Geggan, Docherty, Adams, Crawford, Moffat, Shankland. Substitutes: Moore, Forrest, McDaid, McGuffie, Faulds, Reid, Avci (GK)

 

Raith Rovers

Smith, Thomson, Robertson, Murray, McHattie, Barr, Matthews, Herron, Vaughan, Buchanan, Zanatta. Substitutes: Watson, Spence, Berry, Osei-Opoku, Court, McKay, Brian (GK)

 

Referee: Barry Cook

Attendance: 2,040