Alloa Athletic 1 v 4 Ayr United
High-flying United recorded their fourth consecutive Championship win with a 1-4 victory over Alloa Athletic on Saturday. The Honest Men got all the work done in the first half with an early penalty scored by Alan Forrest followed by goals from Sam Roscoe, Luke McCowan and another from Forrest. Alloa clawed one back through Kevin O’Hara in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to take points from Ayr at the Indodrill Stadium.
Ayr opened the scoring early on when they were awarded a penalty on 10 mins. Luke McCowan flicked the ball forward for Michael Moffat in the box, but as he flicked the ball past outrushing keeper Jamie MacDonald, he was brought to the ground. Referee David Lowe pointed to the spot and Alan Forrest stepped up to take the spot-kick. He made no mistake and slotted the ball past MacDonald and into the bottom left-hand corner to give United the lead.
Only three mins later, Ayr went two goals up. Stephen Kelly delivered a corner from the left which keeper MacDonald misjudged and allowed to go over his head. Sam Roscoe
moved in behind and rose unchallenged to head the ball into the back of the net.
Ayr dominated with pacey, high-intensity football and another great chance came their way in the 18th min. McCowan intercepted in his own half and broke forward. He played a short pass to Kelly whose curled ball was met by Moffat who had sprinted down the right-wing. The striker made his way into the box and had only MacDonald left to beat, but his shot was straight at the keeper leaving the score at 0-2.
It only took another min for Ayr to add a third to their tally though. Andy Geggan won the ball in the Ayr half and flicked on to Mark Kerr who sent a long ball forward to McCowan. Despite pressure from the Alloa defence, McCowan controlled it and curled it out to Moffat on the right. Moffat cut in and sent a short pass back to McCowan who turned near the penalty spot and drilled the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.
United were now in full control and could have scored again on 22 mins. Great build-up play between Forrest and Daniel Harvie resulted in the ball being flicked to Moffat who continued his run down the right but saw his attempt collected by MacDonald at the left post.
Alloa created their only clear-cut chance of the first half on 28 mins when Kevin O’Hara broke forward then sent a long ball down the left. It was picked up by Liam Dick who drove a tight angled low pass from near the goal line into the box for Kevin Cawley. Unfortunately for Alloa, the diminutive midfielder’s first touch shot from seven yards went inches past the right post leaving the hosts goalless for the moment.
It was, however, United who found the back of the net again next. On 31 mins, Ross Docherty picked up a poor clearance header from Robbie Deas and lifted a great ball forward into the box where Forrest came racing in from the left and headed home from eight yards.
It was all Ayr for the remainder of the first half and Alloa must have been relieved that the scoreline remained at only 0-4 at half time.
Alloa manager Peter Grant made two changes to his team, bringing on Jon Robertson and Adam Brown for Robbie Deas and Liam Buchanan. The substitutions showed immediate effect as the start to the second half was more balanced with the Wasps getting back into the game.
Neither side created clear-cut chances from open play in the opening 15 mins and the only goal scoring opportunities came from set-pieces. The first came for Ayr on 49 mins. Alan Forrest was tackled late by Steven Hetherington giving United a free kick 12 yards out on the left. Kelly stepped up to take it, but his shot cracked off the crossbar and went out. It was a similar story for Alloa in the 60th min when Iain Flannigan curled a free-kick from the edge of the box over the bar.
Only a min later though, the home side finally got their goal. A free-kick inside the Alloa half was taken short and ended up with Scott Taggart who lifted a cross-field pass out to Robertson on the right. The substitute broke down the wing and crossed into the box from 16 yards. At close range, O’Hara got a touch onto the ball and turned it past Ross Doohan and into the net.
The hosts almost clawed another one back on 68 mins. Andy Graham won a header in his own half and the ball was picked up by Brown who, under pressure from Muirhead, flicked on to O’Hara. O’Hara dribbled out to the right and created space for himself to cut back in, but his stinging shot from 20 yards was kept out of the net by great goalkeeping from Doohan at the bottom left-hand corner.
Alloa were pressing to get something out of the game, but United seemed comfortable and the clock ticked down to the final whistle and a 1-4 win for Ayr.
This result sees Ayr remain second in the league, still on equal points with table toppers Dundee United but the goal difference is now reduced to just one.
United are on the road again next weekend as they make the trip to Arbroath in the Championship.
MacDonald, Dick, Graham, Hetherington, Deas, Cawley, Buchanan, Flannigan, Thomson, Taggart, O’Hara Substitutes: Henry (GK), Brown, Robertson, O’Donnell, Gillespie, Gilhooly
Doohan, Muirhead, Harvie, Kerr, Roscoe, Geggan, Moffat, Forrest, McCowan, Docherty, Kelly Substitutes: Hare-Reid (GK), Doolan, Houston, McKenzie
Referee: David Lowe