Queens Park 2 v 2 Ayr United
(AET. Ayr win 5- 4 on penalties)
On a night when a little bit of football history was made, Greg Fleming was again the hero of a penalty shoot-out as Ayr United finally overcame League 1 Queens Park to move into the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish.
Ayr had to work hard to overcome a well organised Queens Park and were caught cold after only 4 mins when the impressive Woods steered the ball into the net after meeting Burns’ cross from the right.
Ayr pushed for the equaliser with both Moore and Harkins coming close before a horrendous misunderstanding in defence on 25 mins brought United level. Muir passed towards McGeever who seemed unaware of his keeper’s intentions allowing Moore time to step in and to steal the ball, before moving into the box, and slamming it into the net.
Ayr seemed to be in total control and gaining confidence but on 32 mins they were knocked back on their heels when Queen’s again went in front. To the bemusement of Ayr fans, referee Barry Cook awarded a freekick on the right when MacPherson seemed to throw himself down with little or no contact from Ayr’s Peter Murphy. Sean Burns whipped the ball into the Ayr box and the United defence struggled to get the ball clear, Docherty knocking it towards the back post, where Balatoni blocked then knocked the ball into the air. Keeper Fleming, under pressure, could only punch the ball out some ten yards from where Wharton knocked the ball into the net.
Ayr should have equalised just 3 mins later when Harkins pounced on another defensive mistake and put Moore through one-on-one with keeper Muir who somehow managed to block when it looked certain the striker would score.
The second half was frustrating for United who dominated possession but were denied by a resolute Queen’s Park defence and some frustrating time wasting antics. Referee Cook’s decision making was again brought into question when he denied what appeared a stone penalty for Ayr. After some exquisite skill to bypass two Queens defenders, Harkins curled a long ball towards the back post and Brian Gilmour turned to chase the ball wide. Still in the 6-yard box, Sean Burns blatantly grabbed Gilmour’s jersey pulling the midfielder back. Referee Cook ignored appeals for a penalty but should certainly have been helped out by his assistant Kylie McMullan who had a clear line of sight to the incident.
On 83 mins, Ayr finally got the equaliser that their play deserved. From substitute Cairney’s corner Conrad Balatoni rose to knock the ball down and goalward. Keeper Muir seemed to have comfortably saved before letting the ball slip from his grasp and into the net. 2-2.
In the final minutes the game really livened up with McKernon bending a 25-yard right-foot drive just wide for the Spiders while Craig McGuffie almost re-created Alan Forest’s goal at the same stadium in July, 2013. McGuffie got on the end of an inch perfect pass from Harkins before skipping past Muir only to see Burns knock the ball away.
The addition of Forest and McGuffie late on gave Ayr a more dynamic threat up front in the final moments and into
As extra time got under way McGuffie again came close as he controlled a Cairney through-ball on the right of the penalty area before scooping his shot from 12 yards just wide of the far post.
Queens Park were then dealt a blow with Burns left rueing a petulant bouncing of the ball in the second half when he was sent off for a second bookable offence, taking out Devlin at the edge of the penalty area.
Ayr continued to dominate but were thwarted by Queens never-say-die defensive attitude. On 103 min Harkins seemed to have won it for Ayr when, with his volley rocketing toward the far top corner, Muir pulled off a remarkable one handed save to turn the ball wide.
With time running out it was time for Ayr to write themselves into the history books once again. When Michael Rose replaced skipper Nicky Devlin in added time in extra time, the Honest Men became the first team to use a 4th substitute as allowed by a rule change in the Scottish Cup. The rule allows a 4th substitute if a game has gone into extra time.
With extra-time remaining goalless, it was time for a nerve-wracking penalty shoot-out. Ayr came out on top following two excellent saves by Greg Fleming. The penalty order is shown below:
1. Ayr United: Forest scores. QP 0 v 1 AU
2. Queens Park: McGeever scores QP 1 v 1 AU
3. Ayr United: Rose scores QP 1 v 2 AU
4. Queens Park: Cummins scores QP 2 v 2 AU
5. Ayr United: Cairney MISSED QP 2 v 2 AU
6. Queens Park: McKernon scores QP 3 v 2 AU
7. Ayr United: McGuffie scores QP 3 v 3 AU
8. Queens Park: Wharton SAVED QP 3 v 3 AU
9. Ayr United: Harkins scores QP 3 v 4 AU
10. Queens Park: Millen scores QP 4 v 4 AU
11. Ayr United: Boyle scores QP 4 v 5 AU
12. Queens Park: Fotheringham SAVED QP 4 v 5 AU
With Ayr winning 5 – 4 on penalties they will now face either Clyde or Stirling Albion in the fifth round.
On Saturday, it is back to Championship business as United face high flying Morton at Somerset Park with a 5.15 pm kick-off to suit television coverage. Admission has been reduced to £5.
Muir, Wharton, McGeever, Cummins, Millen, Fotheringham, McKernon, Brady, Burns, Woods, MacPherson. Substitutes: Stott (GK), Malone, Galt, McVey, Mitchell, Brown, Mortimer
Fleming, Devlin, Balatoni, Murphy, Boyle, Gilmour, Crawford, Docherty, Donald, Moore, Harkins. Substitutes: Hart (GK), Rose, Forrest, Cairney, Adams, McGuffie, McKenna
Referee: Barry Cook