Alloa Athletic 1 v 3 Ayr United
A chilly but bright sun shining day at the Indodrill Stadium provided perfect conditions for football and it would turn out to be a perfect day for the Honest Men running out 1-3 winners. Manager Ian McCall gave first starts to recent signings Aaron Muirhead and Calvin Miller with top striker Lawrence Shankland also returning to the starting line-up.
Ayr started brightly, with Miller on the right-wing keen to impress, and both Moffat and Shankland looking sharp and desperate to add to their tally of goals for the season.
Early skirmishes saw new boy Miller bring out a full length save from keeper Parry with a 22-yard drive. Alloa responded with Zannata getting onto a cross from the right but lifting the ball well over the bar when it seemed easier to hit the target. Moffat then linked up well with Shankland before dribbling past three men and into the box before dragging his shot just wide of the post.
Ayr began to dominate, with Alloa content to sit back and rely on attacking on the break. Both Miller and McDaid on the wings were torturing Alloa’s backline and creating chances for those in and around the box. Still, Alloa were dangerous and created chances on their forays up the field, Flannigan coming close with a flicked shot from on the penalty spot going wide.
On 28 mins United claimed the opening goal. After an attempt by McDaid was blocked, Smith played the ball back to the winger near the edge of the box. McDaid slid the ball to Moffat who controlled with the most delicate of touches to line up the ball for a 20 yard, left-footed pile driver that screamed into the top left corner of the net. 0-1 Ayr United and Moffat celebrated the birth of his daughter Mila, early that morning, in the finest of fashions.
The lead lasted only 90 seconds before Alloa grabbed the equaliser. Goalkeeper Parry rolled the ball out and Alloa worked down the right before knocking in a cross which was headed by Zannata to Flannigan on the left. Flannigan found Trouten at the edge of the box and the ex-Ayr man controlled the ball, stepped past Docherty into space and steered his shot in at the bottom left-hand post. All square at 1 – 1, and so it remained until the interval.
The second half began with United continuing to press hard but Alloa using the slope to encourage a more attacking formation. Even with Alloa’s more offensive intent, the men from Ayrshire still maintained the majority of play and control, and it was no surprise when they took the lead again.
Parry’s long goal kick into the Ayr half was met solidly by the head of Aaron Muirhead and the ball returned over the Alloa backline and in nipped Moffat to race into the box. With Liam Dick failing to get to the ball, keeper Parry rushed from his goal and simply charged into Moffat sending him sprawling to the deck. Referee Roncone was left with the easy decision to point to the spot. Lawrence Shankland stepped up, sending the goalkeeper to the left while the ball nestled in the back of the net to the right. 52 mins gone, 1-2 Ayr.
The match upped in pace, Murdoch smashed the ball over from the edge of the box for Ayr, then Alloa responded. Muirhead blocked a Zanatta drive from 8 yards before Doohan made it look easy stopping a Kirkpatrick shot from the edge of the box in a frantic 30 seconds of action.
On 83 mins Ayr should have had a second penalty when Moffat broke into the box and, as he lined up one-on-one with keeper Parry, defender Andy Graham slid in from behind and clipped the striker as he prepared to pull the trigger. A stone wall penalty of granitic proportions except for in the eyes of referee Roncone. Shocked disbelief flooded the ground, and, for his protests, Ian McCall got a talking to from the referee.
The injustice would have become even more egregious a few minutes later had it not been for keeper Doohan.
Somewhat inspired by their let off, Alloa pushed forward and gained a corner on the left. The ball in was then nodded back across goal by Dick to Flannigan, in perfect position 10 yards out on the right of the box. Flanagan drove the ball goalwards but Doohan reacted at speed, acrobatically touching the ball off his near post and so averted the danger. This was a save of some quality.
On 88 mins the scales of justice were somewhat re-balanced, and it was that man Moffat again. Ayr were back in control and pushing towards the Alloa goal. The Alloa defence was not allowed time on the ball as United pressed and a series of passes across their own box were hotly contested.
The ball took on all the attributes of a hot potato and, as passes became clumsier and clumsier, a mistake looked sure to come, and come it did. Docherty tipped the ball away from Kirkpatrick to Shankland who went to the line and cut back to new boy Nicky Cadden. Cadden appeared to be pushed from behind by Kirkpatrick but karma kicked in as the ball ricocheted off the shin of Taggart, back off Kirkpatrick and straight to Moffat who slammed the ball into the top of the net. 1 – 3 Ayr, and a second for Moffat who could now dedicate this one to his son Luka and rule out any early sibling rivalry.
Alloa had no way back and Ayr comfortably ran-down the final few minutes. United’s performance cemented second place in the league and gave notice that Ayr mean business and can maintain a top of the table challenge
With two weeks until the next game, away to Greenock Morton, Ayr now have time to allow players on the injury list to regain full fitness while integrating the new boys within the squad.
Parry, Taggart, Graham, Dick, Robertson, Kirkpatrick, Shields, Hetherington, Flannigan, Zannata, Trouten Substitutes: Cawley, Aitchison, Brown, Hamilton, Peggie, Henry.
Doohan, Harvie, Rose, Moffat, Shankland, Murdoch, Smith, Muirhead, McDaid, Miller, Docherty Substitutes: Hare-Reid, Higgins, Bell, Moore, Cadden, Crawford, McCowan
Referee: Mick Roncone