Peterhead 2 v 0 Ayr United
It was no surprise when new loan signing Scott McKenna was named in the Ayr starting line but most supporters must have raised an eyebrow to Alan Forrest’s demotion to the bench. It later transpired however that Ian McCall had little option with young Forrest suffering from illness during the week.
Ryan Donnelly partnered Jordan Preston up front, in place of Forrest, as Brian Gilmour returned from suspension but found out that competition for a first team starting slot had intensified and had to make do with a seat on the bench.
Ayr travelled north buoyant after their comprehensive win over Stirling Albion last weekend to face a Peterhead side who were looking to get back to winning ways after back to back losses.
It was Peterhead, backed by a swirling wind, who took the initiative in the opening minutes of this match dominating possession but failing to penetrate the Ayr rear-guard. It was United in fact who created the better early chances as Ryan Donnelly then Jordan Preston went close with shots that forced Peterhead keeper Graeme Smith in to making some good stops within the first 10mins.
Although Peterhead had the bulk of possession in the opening quarter Ayr restricted them to shots from distance that rarely troubled David Hutton’s goal. The Blue Toon’s first meaningful effort fell to former Ayr player Andy Rodgers after 2mins, but his near post flick went wide of the post.
As the game opened up chances fell to both sides with Jordan Preston for Ayr and David Cox for Peterhead both going close. In the 30thmin David Cox turned provider, with Ayr failing to clear his in-swinging corner Andy Rodgers attempted an overhead kick that saw pull of an superb reactions save.
Just before half time David Hutton was the busier of the two goalkeepers, saving well from a David Cox header before being called into action again. This time he saved a Gary McDonald shot after the Peterhead man had found acres of space at the back post. McDonald should have done better but his weakly hit effort gave Hutt’s the opportunity to get across his goal and save on the line.
There were no changes at half-time and Ayr started the second half in a more positive fashion by taking the game to Peterhead from the kick off and winning an early corner.
The game livened up on the hour mark as tempers flared with referee Newlands intervening and booking Peterhead’s Scott Ross as The Blue Toon pressurised the Ayr defence.
Ayr then made changes bringing on Blakeman for Robertson and Gilmour for Crawford as they attempted to take back the initiative from Peterhead.
It was end to end stuff and with 15mins to play as both sides were fully committed to going all out for the win, and on 79mins the breakthrough came.
A disputed free kick was awarded to Peterhead 20 yards out on the left wing, close to the main stand touchline. A teasing in-swinging cross was delivered by substitute Jordan Brown, to the far post, for Gary McDonald to rise above the Ayr defence and power home a close range header to give Peterhead the lead with just 11 minutes left to play.
Peterhead had the momentum now and as Ayr struggled to get out of their own half they conceded a penalty in 86mins after Nicky Devlin was penalised for a foul. Former Ayr player Andy Rodgers returned to haunt his old club, converting from the penalty spot, and making certain of the win for the home side as the game finished 2-0 to Peterhead.
Ayr United – Hutton; Devlin; Robertson; McGovern; Neill; McKenna; Murray; Crawford; Preston; Donnelly; Donald Subs – Newman; Beattie; Blakeman; Gilmour; Nisbet; Muir; Forrest
Peterhead – Smith; Kerr; Noble; Strachan; Ross; McDonald; Riley; Redman; Rodgers; Dzierzawski; Cox Subs – Jarvie; Brown; Donaldson; Smith; McLaren
Referee: Alan Newlands