Livingston 0 v 2 Ayr United
United finished their group stage in the Betfred Cup with 9 points thanks to a 2-0 away to Livingston. A first half peach of a goal from Peter Murphy and one late in the match by Craig McGuffie were enough to earn the Honest Men 3 points. Both strikes marked first goals for the club for both players.
Gaffer Ian McCall made 3 changes to the team that defeated Edinburgh City on Saturday as Fleming, Adams and Donald came in to replace Fleming, Gilmour and O’Connell.
The game started brightly for the hosts and they almost opened the scoring through ex-United striker Buchanan on 8 minutes. Buchanan picked the ball up from a throw in on the edge of the box and on the half-volley powered a shot towards goal only it for it to fly inches wide of Fleming’s goal.
4 minutes later and this time it was ex-United defender Alan Lithgow who tried his luck from a header however it was straight into Fleming’s arms from close range.
It was a stuttering start from the Honest Men but as Ayr slowly started to get into the game they were almost caught on the counter attack by Livingston. After intercepting a slack cross field pass by Docherty at the halfway line Mullen broke free at speed and darted into the United half with Carrick in close support. With Murphy bypassed and only Boyle in pursuit, Mullen drove into the box and squared the ball to Carrick whose shot was well saved by Fleming at his near post to keep the score at 0-0.
On 21 mins Ayr went ahead with a wonder strike from Peter Murphy. The veteran defender picked up the ball on the halfway line and strolled forward before composing himself and rocketing a shot into the top corner from 30 yards out to give Ayr the lead.
The goal seemed give United focus and they started to take control. Apart from one scrambled effort and a shot by Mullin that went wide Livingston were very much contained for the rest of the half and it was now their turn to be put on the back foot.
Twice in as many minutes Nicky Devlin was put through into the box first being denied by an acrobatic tip over the top by keeper Kelly and then by the merest of touches by defender Crichton sending the ball across the face of goal and out for a corner. Next it was Thomas’s turn but he was caught inches of side as he strode in on goal and then Jamie Adams was only inches short of connecting with an excellent curling ball into the box from Donald.
Ayr went in at halftime one goal up and with a strong hold on the game.
Into the second half and Livingston registered another shot on target in the 50th minute but substitute Cadden’s drive from the edge of the box went wide of the post but causing Fleming no problem.
An hour gone and Ayr almost doubled their lead through another thunderbolt strike, this time from Boyle. The United left back picked up the ball on the left and from the edge of the box unleashed a shot which smacked off the joint of the crossbar after the faintest of touches by keeper Kelly.
On 74 mins Livingston almost hauled themselves level through Cadden. The winger met the ball on the left and with a sweet half volley from the edge of the box almost found the back of the net but the ball flashed just wide of the far post.
After 78 mins Ayr deservedly doubled their lead through youngster McGuffie. Donald picked up the ball on the left dribbled across the box before slipping an inch perfect pass through to McGuffie who showed great composure and stroked home into the bottom corner to kill the game. A first goal for the club for the promising youngster.
United comfortably saw out the remaining minutes of the game and went top of Group G with 9 points – however that could all change come Saturday with rivals Hamilton and St Mirren still having games to play. Ayr are next in action on the 6th August when they host Raith Rovers in the opening game of the Ladbrokes Championship at Somerset Park.
Kelly, Miller, Lithgow, Longridge, Halkett, Sinclair, Crighton, Mullin, Mullen, Carrick, Buchanan. Substitutes: Jamieson (GK), Knox, Pittman, Cadden, Byrne, Orr, Watt.
Fleming, Devlin, Boyle, Meggatt, Murphy, Crawford, Docherty, Adams, Donald, Cairney, Thomas. Substitutes: Hart (GK), Wardrope, McGuffie, O’Connell, McCracken, Rose
Referee: David Lowe
Match Report: AUmedia