Partick Thistle vs. Ayr United
Betfred Cup – Group E
Saturday 28th July 2018. Kick-off 3pm
On Saturday, Ayr United travel to manager Ian McCall’s old stomping ground of Firhill to take on Partick Thistle in a battle for top spot in Group E. With both clubs boasting a 100% record after three games, second place looks like it will be enough for a place in the next round as one of the four best runners-up, but neither side will be taking anything for granted and a win that should see them seeded in Sunday’s draw.
United cruised to a 5-0 victory on Tuesday night at home to Stenhousemuir, with Lawrence Shankland netting his fourth, fifth and sixth goals in just three games. Thistle, meanwhile, overcame Albion Rovers 2-0 at Cliftonhill during midweek, with second-half goals from Miles Storey and youngster Aidan Fitzpatrick.
Partick Thistle saw five years in the Premiership come to end at the end of last season when they were defeated by Livingston in the play-off final. The Firhill board have kept faith in manager Alan Archibald but a host of players and come and gone.
Former Kilmarnock and Rangers goalkeeper Cammy Bell is the Jags’ new number one; Defender Tam O’Ware has joined from Morton while Northern Irish midfielder Shea Gordon scored twice in the first six minutes of his Thistle debut on loan from Motherwell against Stenhousemuir. Archibald this week further strengthened his squad, adding 19 year-old left-back Max Melbourne on loan from West Bromwich Albion.
Team News: Andy Geggan misses out with a slight calf strain and Craig Moore misses out through illness. Chris Higgins has began training with the first team but is still a few weeks away.
Ian says: “We have had a good start to the group with 3 wins and some really good football but this is now a completely different test. We are in good form so its a test we are really looking forward to as we know that Thistle are a very good side. There are still a number of scenarios which would see us not qualify so we will be going all out to get a result that puts us in the hat for Sundays last 16 draw.”
Head to head (at Firhill):
Ayr United wins – 16
Draws – 14
Partick Thistle wins – 36
It is honours even in four League Cup ties between the sides. The Honest Men won home and away in the group stage in 1981 – 1-0 at Somerset Park and 5-1 at Firhill. The Honest Men, however, have lost the two subsequent knockout ties, in 1992 and most recently in 2013, with both games at Firhill.
That League Cup first round tie in August 2013 was the last meeting between the sides in all competitions. Stephen O’Donnell and Conrad Balatoni were the goalscorers for a Thistle side that also featured Mark Kerr in midfield. Mark Shankland netted a late goal which proved only to be a consolation.
Referee – Nick Walsh
Assistant Referee 1 – Douglas Ross
Assistant Referee 2 – Craig Ferguson
Adults – £12
Concessions – £6