Arbroath 1 v 1 Ayr United
Ayr left it late to grab the point which took them back to the top of League 1 on a windswept night against a determined Arbroath side that United manager Ian McCall rates as one of the top teams in the division.
The first half saw both sides struggling to come to terms with the windy conditions but Arbroath, having the advantage of the wind at their backs, had much of the play. Despite this, United’s defence looked in control restricting Arbroath to shots from distance (Denholm 4mins, Whatley 27 mins, and Martin 35 mins) and working manfully to block any clear-cut chances.
Surprisingly it was Ayr who looked more likely to score, carving out some good chances. A delightful cross in by Geggan on 10 mins found Moffat unmarked but his header was superbly saved at full stretch by on-form keeper, Ricky Gomes. Gomes again came to Arbroath’s rescue with a fingertip save from Shankland on 21 mins turning the ball wide. 2 mins later Adams could only look on in disbelief as a curving ball into the box from Kerr smashed off his knee and went agonisingly wide. With 38 mins gone, Crawford jinked into the box from the left and curled a delicious shot just past the far post with the keeper beaten. Then it was again Shankland’s turn to see his shot saved by the keeper.
Just as it looked like Ayr would reach halftime without conceding, and with a warm dressing room beckoning as just rewards for their efforts, Arbroath took the lead. Rose’s attempted clearance was blocked by Swankie and he found Denholm free to his left. The wide-man then unleashed a swerving drive around the advancing Geggan and past Ruddy at his left-hand post.
As the second half got underway the wind strengthened to the stage that play, at times, became farcical and United found little advantage. Arbroath were reduced to a handful of breakaway chances with only 2 shots on target in the second 45 mins while Ayr became more and more frustrated.
Enter Craig McGuffie as a substitute on 77mins. The youngster’s introduction changed the game for Ayr as he kept the ball close, dribbling through the ranks of Arbroath players who seemed unable to counter his skills. United became much more of a threat and with Moore, McDaid and Shankland all being denied by the impressive Gomes. Ayr were turning up the heat.
It was no surprise when it was McGuffie who found the way to goal. With 86 mins on the clock McGuffie played a one-two with Bell before surging behind the Arbroath backline and slamming the ball into the net from a narrow angle.
It could have been 2 only 2 mins later when a McGuffie cross found Shankland but, with Gomes reduced to an on-looker, the ball crashed against the post before being cleared.
United, back on top of the league on goal difference from Raith, now find themselves with another journey to Angus on Saturday where the face Forfar Athletic.
Gomes, Little, Hamilton, O’Brien, Yule, Whatley, Linn, Martin, Wallace, Swankie, Denholm Substitutes: Hutton (GK), Kader, Gold, McCord, McIntosh, Skelly.
Ruddy, Rose, Geggan, Moffat, Crawford, McDaid, Adams, Shankland, Reid, Kerr, Bell Substitutes: Hart (GK), Moore, Forrest, McGuffie, Ferguson, Docherty
Referee: Colin Steven