Match Preview v Dunfermline

On Friday night, Ayr United take on Dunfermline Athletic under the floodlights at Somerset Park. Mark Roberts’s side is looking to bounce back from two defeats in-a-row at home and three defeats in their last four games.

Title-favourites Dunfermline have won five of their last six league games and occupy second place in the table, three points ahead of Ayr but one behind leaders Forfar Athletic. The match marks the return of Michael Moffat. The 29-year old striker scored 68 goals in 3½ years with the Honest Men.

Read on for our match preview:

Team News: Peter Murphy and Martyn Campbell are both very doubtful and will face late fitness tests. Everyone else in the squad is fit.

Marko says: “This game on Friday will be a great game for us to play in, a first Friday night fixture under the lights at Somerset Park in front of what should be a good crowd. After two home defeats in a row the boys have been working hard to make sure we turn that around. We want to make it as uncomfortable as possible for Dunfermline. They are the league favourites for a reason and its highly likely that if anyone finishes above them they will be winning the league.”

Head-to-Head (at Somerset Park):
Ayr United wins – 22
Draws – 15
Dunfermline Athletic wins – 16

United are without a win in the last seven meetings between the sides, losing five.

Last Meeting: The final league meeting between Ayr and Dunfermline last season was in April and ended one-all at Somerset Park. Alan Forrest netted for the Honest Men.

Stats:
– 36 of Michael Moffat’s 68 Ayr United goals were scored at Somerset Park.
– Ayr have three more points and twice as many wins as they did at the same stage last season.
– The Honest Men have three wins out of three against sides in the top half of the table.

On this day: Remarkably, the last two fixtures Ayr United have played on 10th October have also been against Dunfermline Athletic. In 2009 the Pars won 3-1 at East End Park. Previous to this, it was United who were winners, by the same scoreline at the same venue back in 1992. In 13 fixtures on this date the Honest Men have drawn just once.

Match Officials:
Referee: Euan Anderson
Assistant Referee 1: Andrew McWilliam
Assistant Referee 2: Colin Pensom

Match Info: Adults £15, Concessions (OAPs, Under16s and students) £8 and parent & child gate £18

Licence Holder Coaching Positions

As part of the Ayr United Football Academy’s continuing to improve the future and opportunities to develop young footballers for the Ayr United first team and support our quest to achieve Silver Star status within the SFA’s Club Academy Scotland the Academy have the following licensed coaching vacancies.

For details on the vacancies please visit our website through the following link.

http://www.aufa.org.uk/2014/09/licence-holder-coaching-positions/

Full Time Football

Ayr United Football Club and Ayr United Football Academy are delighted to confirm that the club and Academy are working jointly towards full time football at Somerset Park. With the Scottish Football Association Club Academy Scotland audit due this month, the Academy has been working hard to gain Silver Status which would put us amongst the elite academies in Scotland. Part of that process involves proving to the SFA that the club and Academy can sustain full time football.DSC00036

Explained Cub Chairman, Lachlan Cameron, “Recently I spoke in the club newsletter about the pride I have in what the Academy has achieved. This is another step along the way. What is even more pleasing is that we don’t need outside finance to achieve it. Through restructuring and making better use of the grants that are available to the Academy it means we are able to put firm foundations down for the future of the club. The aim is to make the club even more attractive to players to come here and play. It also hits my intention of living within our means, which should send a clear message out to the rest of Scottish football that having a youth policy is not only desirable, but essential for clubs to survive. I am very proud that we have one of the best examples and the most stable of community academies in the country.”

This was a view that chimed with Academy chair, Ian Welsh. “We are delighted to have the club backing us to this extent. Make no mistake about it this a serious development which has been long in the thinking. Whilst it may seem obvious that a club who may benefit from the development of a successful youth strategy would back it, we realise that unless we can provide quality young players for the manager, supporters can get disillusioned with the set up. This means we support the manager, the Chairman of the club supports the Academy and collectively we can make real, sustained progress on the park.” DSC00039

The project will see a core number of players – 12 have put pen to paper thus far – becoming full-time with the Club.

Captain Scott McLaughlin is among those who will step up their involvement at Somerset Park as well as key first team players like Michael Donald, Nicky Devlin, Brian Gilmour, Alan Forrest and Paul Slane. Joining them will be a crop of United’s star youngsters and push the club towards full-time football while keeping costs in check.

Academy Head of Youth, David White, explained: “The SFA has different statuses within its Club Academy Programme, and each Academy’s standards are measured to determine where it sits in the structure. We are striving to reach the Elite grade, but in order to do that we must provide our young players with a pathway to full-time football. Our present setup obviously doesn’t make that possible, so I have worked with Academy staff to look at ways in which we could go about it. Both Mark Roberts and Lachlan Cameron have been fantastic in buying into this because they see the benefits for the whole Club – not just the youngsters. The Chairman has added a personal investment to the Academy funding and full credit to him because he sees the long term legacy this could have.”

Training will be taken every day by Roberts and White, with sessions expanded to mirror that of professional full-time clubs. Davie added: “We’ll be able to do proper recovery sessions after games, match analysis and work on things like nutrition and sports science. None of that is really possible within the current part-time setup where the guys just come in on a Tuesday and Thursday night. So many of our young boys are crying out for this because all they want to do is train and play football. It’s not about money for them, they just want to be in and around the club every day learning from the senior pros and this will give them the perfect chance to do that.” DSC00052

The full-time setup will be operational within days, with the squad training six sessions per week.

First team boss, Roberts, confirmed: “It’s a great move for both the Academy and ourselves. What this represents is an important first step towards full-time football and it means we can spend more time working on the things we want to during the week. The players taking part in this will be fitter, stronger and our youngsters in particular will gain more game knowledge. I know from my time as a young player, the most you learn is at the ages of 16, 17 and 18 so this will be a massive thing for the young boys and over the next couple of years we’ll really start to see the benefits.” DSC00057

Restructuring of the Club Academy Scotland set up means that Ayr United Football Academy will either play in a structure below where they are now or in amongst the elite clubs. This development means that the Academy are able now to close off one of the outstanding tasks to achieve the higher status. Stringent rules apply here so the Academy are working very hard to reward the volunteers who put in countless hours for the Academy in coaching sessions with competition to stretch, challenge and improve the quality of opportunities for our young players.

Scottish Cup 3rd round draw

Ayr United will play at home to Alloa Athletic in the third round of this years William Hill Scottish Cup. The tie will be played on Saturday the 1st of November at Somerset Park.

Peterhead 2 Ayr United 0

Prior to this match both sides were forced into making changes through injury and suspension but it was the home side Peterhead who coped better as they took control of the game from the first minute and rarely allowed Ayr to get a foothold in this tie.

Ayr’s defence looked nervous and unsure from the start and as early as the third minute the warning signs were evident as Rory McAllister found himself in acres of space after losing his marker 25 yards from goal. However he seemed surprise about how easily he was able to find space for himself and failed to show enough composure to gather in the pass and bear down on the Ayr goal.

United failed to heed the warnings and only 2 mins later Peterhead’s new signing Nicky Riley found more space down the right hand channel. A jinking run followed which saw him draw Ayr keeper Hutton to his near post before a clever cut back found McAllister but with the goal at his mercy he contrived to screw his shot wide of the left hand post from 15 yards, as Ayr breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Although the surface conditions were greasy this suited Peterhead’s slick passing as they moved the ball quickly around the immaculate surface. After 8 mins another neat move ended with a corner for Peterhead taken by the impressive Jamie Stevenson. His delivery caused more problems for the Ayr defence which only ended after Peterhead’s Scott Ross was unable to keep his shot down and blasted over from inside the box.

In the 13th minute there was a claim for a penalty as Peterhead alleged a push by Ayr’s McGovern from yet another corner but referee Alan Muir saw nothing untoward and ignored the hopeful pleas as The Blue Toons Ross Smith was left floundering on the Balmoor turf.

A few minutes later Peterhead went close again as Brian Gilfillan made a darting run to the front post and his outstretched foot flicked at Jamie Stevenson’s cross from the left which seemed to deflect off an Ayr defender before looping agonisingly over keeper Hutton, and fortunately the crossbar, to settle behind the Ayr goal for another corner.

In 19 mins Ayr won their first corner and could have gone ahead after Ryan Donnelly was left unmarked and all alone in the 6 yard box but his well timed downward header crossed the line the wrong side of the near post for a goal kick to Peterhead.

Peterhead immediately retaliated and a good run and shot by Reece Donaldson was well saved by David Hutton. Ayr again briefly threatened from another corner as Mikey Donald’s near post downward header clipped the outside of the post but this wasn’t enough to stem the tide of Peterhead attacks. McAllister should have scored for Peterhead in 31 mins after he broke through on the Ayr goal but Hutton saved Ayr’s blushes blocking McAllister’s low drive with an instinctive save with his foot.

As the first half drew to a close Graeme Sharp, playing his last game for The Blue Toon before heading to Greece due to work commitments, become more involved in the continuing Peterhead attacks. He pushed forward whenever the opportunity appeared on the right flank attempting to finish on a high. However the elusive opening goal failed to materialise and the half ended 0-0.

Peterhead started the second half with renewed vigour and made a tactical change in the 53rd min withdrawing Mark Millar and replacing him with former Ayr player Ryan McCann. This seemed to unsettle Ayr further and another opportunity fell to Rory McAllister in 54 mins when he was again released through on goal and with only Hutton standing between him and the opener he again managed to completely miss the target dragging his left foot shot wide of the goals from just 15 yards. He did however partially redeem himself for this miss when in the 56th min a combination of poor defending by Ayr and some good play by McAllister allowed him to set up Jamie Stevenson to rattle the ball into an unguarded net to make it 1-0 for Peterhead.

Ayr had barely come to terms with losing the opener when worse was to follow in the 62nd min as they allowed Ryan Strachan space and time in the box to fire home Peterhead’s second of the day from around 12 yards.

Peterhead were now giving Ayr a torrid time and Mark Roberts decided to replace Craig Beattie with Dale Shirkie in the 66th min and this was followed by the final throw of the dice in the 80th min as Ayr made a double substitution replacing Donnelly and Donald with youngsters McGill and Muir.

By this stage Peterhead were happy to allow Ayr to have the ball and were content to sit in and hit Ayr on the counter attack as the game ended with a comfortable 2-0 victory for Peterhead which could have been worse had it not been for some poor finishing by Peterhead’s McAllister.

At the end there was a nice touch for long serving defender Graeme Sharp in his final game for Peterhead when he was substituted with less than a minute to go to receive rapturous applause from the home support.

Attendance – 507

Ayr United:
Hutton; Devlin; Donald; McLaughlin; McKinlay; Gilmour; Forrest; Beattie; Donnelly; McGovern; Slane

Subs:
Newman; Shirkie; Crawford; Muir; McGill

Peterhead:
Smith; Sharp; Donaldson; Smith; Ross; Strachan; Millar; Gilfillan; McAllister; Stevenson; Riley

Subs:
Jarvie; Cox; McCann; Richardson; Rogers

Report by AUmedia

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Match Preview v Peterhead

Ayr United and Peterhead meet for the first time in three-and-a-half years on Saturday with both clubs looking to forget regrettable performances last weekend. United dropped from the top of the League 1 table to third in the space of just 10 minutes as Airdrieonians fought back to condem the Honest Men to a second successive home defeat. Meanwhile, Peterhead found themselves reduced to eight men before half-time at East End Park, eventually going down 3-0.

Last season’s League 2 Champions have made a reasonable start to the campaign and occupy seventh place with eight points from their seven games.

Read on for our match preview:

Marko says: “Martyn Campbell, Peter Murphy and Josh McArthur are all unavailable through injury. Alan Forrest will be assessed at training on Thursday night and is touch and go. Everyone else is available. We are under no illusions as to how difficult it would be up there, not many teams in the last few years have gone to Peterhead and won. Peterhead were also doing very well at Dunfermline until the game turned with the red cards. Theres no doubt our team is weakened with the injuries that we have in defence however we know we still have plenty of quality in our side and will be going up there to win the match.”

Head-to-Head (at Balmoor):
Ayr United wins – 5
Draws – 2
Peterhead wins – 4

United are unbeaten in their last six matches against Peterhead and have won on each of their last three visits to Balmoor, scoring nine goals in the process.

Last Meeting: Ayr and Peterhead last faced each other in March 2011. Goals either side of half-time from Alan Trouten and Michael Moffat gave the Honest Men a 2-1 victory.

Stats:
– The Blue Toon have lost just two league games at home in the past 18 months.
– United have the best away form in League 1.
– Peterhead right-back Graeme Sharp is set to make his final appearance for the Blue Toon before moving to Greece. The 30-year old has made 327 appearances for the club since signing from Montrose in 2005. Sharp has scored seven goals against Ayr and been shown two red cards.

On this day: United play their first game match on October 4th since Peterhead were the visitors to Somerset Park in 2008. Ryan Stevenson and Alex Williams scored the goals in a 2-0 victory, preserving our 50% win ratio on this date.

Match Officials:
Referee: Alan Muir
Assistant Referee 1: Sean Carr
Assistant Referee 2: Willie Ferguson

Match Info:
Admission
Adults – £12
Concessions – £6

Travel
The River Cottage AUTC are running a bus to Peterhead. To book call Tam on 07585 328685 or Jamie on 07792 747354. Cost is just £16, leaving Ayr at 8am.

Ayr United 2 Airdrie 3

Ayr United 2 v 3 Airdrieonians
Scorers
Ayr United: Campbell (50’), Beattie (79’)
Airdrieonians: Lister (30’), Gasparatto (85’), Bain (90’)

Everything was there to set up this match as one to watch. This was the top versus bottom of the table clash. Ayr had returned from Brechin with all three points while Airdrieonians had been unlucky to only come away with a draw against Stranraer the week before. If any of the 1,185 fans who turned out to watch had been unaware of Airdrieonians’ improving performances they would have left after 90 minutes much better educated.

Airdrieonians were determined and well marshalled throughout. They closed down Ayr at every opportunity, and were set up to attack, with big Jim Lister a constant threat causing endless discomfort for the Ayr defence.

There was little to write home about in the first half with both teams attempting to press forward but with most of the play stagnating in the middle. Ayr’s creative midfielders were given very little time on the ball as Airdrieonians harried and challenged. Due to this, Donnelly, upfront, was provided with little opportunity to show his goal scoring prowess. Most chances were created from set pieces with Martyn Campbell heading close on a number of occasions, and an opportunistic overhead kick from Donnelly on 28 minutes resulting in an excellent save from keeper McNeil.

But Airdrie were growing in confidence with nippy wingers Gray and Watt seeing more of the ball and Ayr looking uncharacteristically nervous at the back. There was a feeling that something was about to happen and when it did was no surprise that Jim Lister was involved.

On 30 minutes, following their own throw in, some slack passing saw Ayr needlessly giving the ball away some thirty yards out. Airdrie’s Prunty made towards the penalty box then flicked it wide to Gray on the right who, making the best of Ayr’s loss of possession turning the defence, darted in behind. His first-time cross to the back post was only partially cleared by Nicky Devlin’s header and the ball dropped to Lister 6 yards out. It was as if time was standing still, and with no one able to get near him, Lister buried the ball with a right-footed shot into the centre of the net.

Ayr went straight into attack as they tried to grab the goal back and saw two corners in quick succession. In 31 minutes ball in from wide right caused problems in the Airdrie defence, and keeper McNeil flapped wildly, managing only to direct the ball to Martyn Campbell 6 yards out. Campbell struck the ball hard but Airdrie threw bodies at the ball and it was blocked. In the following stramash Airdrie somehow managed to boot the ball clear.

With players forward, Ayr were almost caught on the counter-attack. In 33’ Nicky Devlin lost out on the ball in the Airdrie half and Watt slid it through to Lister who raced towards goal. Fortunately for Ayr he ran out of steam as Slane charged back to cover and his shot was powder-puff, trickling into goalkeeper Hutton’s hands.

If things had been bad for Ayr United in the 44’ they got worse as influential central defender Peter Murphy was forced to be withdrawn due to aggravating a ligament injury. This caused Ayr to reshuffle with McKinlay going to central defence, Donald to left back while substitute Shirkie moved into a forward left-sided position.

Half time came at a crucial moment for Ayr who needed a chance to regroup and change things around. And that’s just what happened. A reinvigorated Ayr United emerged from the tunnel with greater determination and more attacking ideas.

The second half burst into action with Ayr putting pressure on the Airdrieonians backline. In the 49th minute both McGovern and Donnelly forced keeper McNeil to pull off two good saves from headers.

In the 50th minute Ayr gained a corner after a header by Donnelly was tipped over by McNeil. McGovern’s curling in-swinger was nodded away from the 6 yard box to Paul Slane who lifted the ball back in again where it reached Martyn Campbell on the penalty spot. Campbell immediately reacted by flicking at the ball with his right foot and directing it into the net leaving fully stretched keeper McNeil clutching at thin air. Martyn Campbell goals are a precious and rare commodity and when they occur they trigger delirious celebrations. No change this time.

But this was not an Airdrieonians’ team that was going to be knocked off their game. They made their intent crystal clear in 53 minutes when the ball was knocked out of the United penalty area and was met by Airdrie defender Luca Gasparotto whose volleyed shot beat Hutton but only to rattle off the top of the bar.

On 60 minutes Ayr were forced to make another change when goal scorer Campbell suffered a muscle injury and was replaced by striker Craig Beattie. Ayr had now lost both of their central defenders and captain Scott McLaughlin once again dropped in beside McKinlay in the reorganised backline.

Both sides went out for victory with Ayr forcing a succession of corners and with Lister, Prunty and Watt all going close for Airdrie. With 79 minutes gone McGovern picked up the ball in midfield and drove down the left. He knocked the ball to Donnelly who cut inside and slid an inch perfect pass to Beattie at the edge of the penalty area. Beattie controlled the ball with one touch, flicked it to his left, giving himself space to snap off a shot that went diagonally across goal and in at the back post. 2- 1 to Ayr.

With just 10 minutes remaining most Ayr fans hoped that this would signal three points for United but yet again Airdrie had different ideas. Manager Bollan signalled for an all-out attack, at times leaving only two at the back and encouraging the towering twosome, Richards-Everton and Gasparotto, to range forward at will. ‘The Diamond’s’ were about to show their cutting edge.

With five minutes remaining, a somewhat innocuous coming together of Slane and Fitzpatrick was deemed as a foul for Airdrie by referee Northcroft. From 25 yards out on the left, Watt curled the resultant free kick into the box, and the ball was returned to him. Taking this second opportunity, Watt lifted the ball to the back post where Proctor rose unmarked to nod the ball into the centre, where Gasparotto out jumped and out muscled his markers to send his header goalward. Hutton reacted immediately to this almost point blank assault but, although managing to get one hand to the ball, he could only watch in horror as it dropped into the net. 2 – 2.

Ayr were toiling and under siege as Airdrie smelt blood and went for the kill. They pushed forward relentlessly, as Ayr desperately tried to hold on. Airdrie’s winner, when it came, was no surprise, the scorer possibly was. In the 89th minute, Gary Bollan sent on the diminutive Jamie Bain for the injured Scott Gray and with his first touch he was to send the Airdrie fans delirious.

After some header tennis on the halfway line, Ayr’s Shirkie and Airdrie’s Watt jumped for the ball some 20 yards inside the Ayr United half and Watt fell clutching his mouth. Again Ayr felt aggrieved but referee Northcroft awarded a free kick to Airdrie. Watt recovered quickly to place the ball and lift it into the centre of the Ayr United penalty box. Jamie Bain had somehow managed to lose his marker, McKinlay, and found time to place his header into the back of the net. 90 minutes had gone and there was no way back for United.

Ayr United
1 Hutton
2 Devlin
3 McKinlay
4 Campbell (Shirkie 45′)
5 Murphy (Beattie 62′)
6 Gilmour
7 Slane
8 McLaughlin
9 Donnelly
10 McGovern
11 Donald

Substitutes
12 Beattie
14 Crawford
15 Shirkie
16 Muir
17 McGill
19 Newman

Airdrieonians
1 McNeil
2 O’Neil
3 P. Boyle
4 Proctor
5 Gasparotto
6 Richards-Everton
7 Gray (Bain 89′)
8 Fitzpatrick
9 Lister
10 Prunty (Parker 80′)
11 Watt

Substitutes
12 Parker
14 Bain
15 Blockley
16 Stewart
17 Bullock
18 Cadden
19 Richford

Referee: Mat Northcroft
Attendance: 1,185
Report: AUmedia.

Club Shop Bonanza!

CRAZY MATCH DAY BONANZA OFFERS AT THE CLUB SHOP

Being top of the table had a serious effect on the rationality of the club shop staff. They have come up with a dozen mad match day offers for our vital League 1 clash on Saturday against Airdrie. These offers are for one day only ( Saturday 27th September) and are on a first come first served basis.

1. Any 3 bespoke T Shirts for only £20 (normal price £14.99 each)
2. Ayr United FC mens watch 1/2 price now only £14.99
3. Jacqaurd hat & scarf set £9.99 (save £5.99)
4. Ayr United FC mugs only £2.99 normal price £6.99)
5. All embroidered slippers only £3.99 (normal price £9.99)
6. Ayr United FC size 4 & 5 footballs 1/2 price now only £5.99 shop2
7. Save £5 on `A season with Ayr United` by Gerry Ferrrara now £9.99
8. 5 piece stationary set £1.99 (reduced from £3.99)
9. Somerset Boab bargain pack T shirt / bottle opener & car sticker only £9.99
10. Ayr United / Man United commemorative match scarfs only £2.99
11. Lunch box deal (1 x Ayr United & 1 x Scotland) both for only £4.99
12. Scotland dressing gown normal price £29.99 **REDUCED TO ONLY £4.99 EACH**

The shop is open from 10 am on Saturday morning.
Offers are while stocks last and no further discounts can be applied to promotional goods.

Shop hours: Monday – Friday 12pm to 4pm and Saturday from 10am.
Tel: 01292 263435 Ext 5
email: shop@ayrunitedfc.co.uk

Slane signs!

Tonight we are delighted to announce an addition to the ever growing squad for this season. Paul Slane, 22, has signed with United for this season.

Paul made his debut for Motherwell in 2009 and after impressing there he signed a 4 year contract with Celtic in February 2010. Unfortunately his early time there was affected by a cruciate ligament injury and he was eventually loaned to MK Dons and then Partick Thistle. He was released by Celtic in 2013 and has used the time since to get himself fully fit and is raring to go.

Manager Mark Roberts said “We are absolutely delighted that Paul has signed on. Paul was never really here on trial as such as I know the ability that he has, we just had to see where he was fitness wise. He has fitted into the squad seamlessly and has already shown the quality he has in training and the games he has played so far. Paul is really enjoying being back playing regularly again and we will reap the benefits of that.”