William Hill Scottish Cup
Banks O’ Dee 2 v 6 Ayr United
Ayr United made the long trip to Aberdeen finally seeing off a stuffy Banks O’ Dee side with a brace of goals each from Shankland, Moore and McDaid in this William Hill Scottish Cup Third Round encounter. On a less than perfect surface, in freezing conditions and up against a strong wind this potential banana skin was avoided with a thoroughly professional performance by the Honest Men.
With only 32 seconds on the clock, United took the lead. Robbie Crawford powered through from his own half to 20 yards out where he played a one-two with Craig Moore (a delicious back-heeled nutmeg) before slipping the ball into the penalty area. It looked a simple ball for the Dee defence to deal with, but somehow everything seemed to go wrong. Defender Alan White nervously tried to clear but hit the ball off his own wingback Neale Allan. Somehow the ball stuck between Allan’s feet and, with keeper Shearer unable to assist, United’s Lawrence Shankland stepped in and poked the ball into the net from a tight angle.
If United thought it was going to be easy, they were in for a shock. Banks O’ Dee were awarded a penalty in 4 mins, when keeper Jordan Hart came off his line to try and reach a hanging cross but failed to make contact and ploughed through striker Jamie Watt before landing awkwardly. It took 4 minutes for the penalty to be taken as Hart received treatment to a facial injury sustained in the incident.
Watt then stepped up and slammed the ball into the net from the spot and bring the sides level.
Worse was to come for United on 25 minutes when Banks O’ Dee went ahead, again from the penalty spot, after Ross Docherty barged Michael Philipson. Again, it was prolific goal scorer Watt who stepped up and drilled the ball home, low to Hart’s right, taking his season’s tally so far to 21 goals.
Banks O’ Dee returned to their game plan, defending in depth and numbers, attempting to stifle United’s attacking intentions. The Honest Men showed skill, calmness and composure, working the ball around the pitch with some excellent interplay whilst probing the Banks O’ Dee defence. Some hard challenges were going in and Paddy Boyle suffered a nasty one when he was barged in mid-air and landed heavily on his shoulder. On 36 mins Boyle was forced to come off and was replaced by Declan McDaid.
One minute later and Ayr were back on level terms. Moore chased onto a high ball over the Dee defence and into the box where, under pressure from Liam McCall, he fired the ball along the 6-yard line to Shankland who tapped home.
As Ayr turned on the power, Banks O’ Dee struggled to cope with the tricky wing skills of Crawford and McDaid prompted by Docherty pulling the strings in midfield.
On 43 minutes Ayr claimed the lead they deserved. Shankland put pressure on defender White who could only tap the ball to McDaid on the right-hand side of the box. McDaid controlled, shuffled onto his left foot, before smashing a drive high into the net.
Just on the stroke of half time Ayr finally put space between themselves and the stuffy Northern Super League team and what a peach it was. Crawford surged down the left and played the ball to Ferguson who neatly back healed the ball behind the defensive line where he found Crawford who had continued his run. The midfielder then cut in before finding McDaid who flicked the ball under control before rifling home from 8 yards.
It could have been more when, in the last of the half’s five additional minutes, Shankland hit the post with a fierce strike.
Ayr started the second half with the same intensity as they had finished the first and the skills gap between the two sides began to show in abundance.
On 52 minutes Geggan played a neat cutback to Shankland in the box but the striker’s drive went narrowly wide and settled in the side netting.
Whatever faint hope the Dee had of getting back into the game was finally crushed when Kane Winton was shown a second yellow for an elbow in the face of Ross Docherty.
Ayr piled on the misery for the Dee when in 63 mins they went 5-2 up. Andy Geggan played the ball in front of Moore who chased into the box before unleashing a thunderous drive into the roof of the net.
2 mins later and it was 6. Keeper Shearer rushed out of his box in an attempt to beat Shankland to the ball, but his clearance was poor and only reached Moore who lifted the ball into the open net from 35 yards.
It was now a masterclass from Ayr, switching to 3 at the back and pushing forward in waves. Crawford, moving into the centre of midfield, looked exceptional probing the Dee defence with pinpoint passes and showing an elegant and skilful control that left opposition players trailing and bemused in his wake.
That Ayr didn’t score more is the only mystery, with a Rose header cleared off the line, a Crawford drive scraping over the bar, young substitute Luke McCowan dribbling across the edge of the box then seeing his shot going just over, Moore hitting the side netting, McDaid hitting the bar, and substitute McGuffie terrorising the Dee back line, and going close on two occasions.
A satisfying journey north for the Honest Men and they can look forward to League action next Saturday at Recreation Park, Alloa.
Shearer, Allan, White, McCall, Robertson, Hamilton, Henderson, Winton, Watt, Philipson, Hall Subs: Sahhalevtis (GK), Murray, Duguid, Macleod, Shrive, Taylor, Smith
Hart, Ferguson, Rose, Reid, Boyle, Geggan, Docherty, Crawford, Moffat, Shankland, Moore
Subs: Avci (GK), Forrest, McDaid, McGuffie, Faulds, Waite, McCowan
Referee: Craig Napier