ARBROATH 1 v 4 AYR UNITED
A devastating goal scoring spell in the second half saw The Honest Men overtake Raith Rovers and go top of the table on goal difference. Shankland put Ayr ahead in the first half before a goal from Moore, an OG from Gold and a second from Shankland put Ayr on easy street in the second half. Swankie netted Arbroath’s late consolation in a frustrating game for the home side
The first half was littered with few real clear-cut chances. Crawford was United’s biggest attacking threat in the opening 10 mins with a couple of efforts on goal however his first attempt flashed well wide before his next strike was comfortably saved by Hutton in goal.
Arbroath grew into the game and on 14 mins defender O’Brien found himself with time and space on the edge of the box but could only fire the ball over the bar from 18 yards out. 5 mins later and it was the turn of defensive partner Hamilton who beat two United players and scraped a shot just wide from 20 yards out.
The best chance of the half for the home side came on 28 mins when they broke quickly from an Ayr attack, Linn then found himself one-on-one with Hart but saw his shot saved well by the keeper before he fired the rebound off the bar from close range as the home fans thought the ball was destined to hit the back of the net.
On 35 mins, Ayr made Arbroath pay for their missed chances and opened the scoring against the run of play through Shankland. Moffat slipped the ball through to the striker who managed to squeeze it under the hand of Hutton and into the net for 0-1.
Arbroath started the better of the two sides in the second half as they looked to get themselves back into the game. Whatley had a strike that was well saved by Hart on 49 mins before Denholm just failed to get on the end of a teasing cross from Hamilton on 51 mins.
Just as it looked like United could be heading into a tricky spell they grabbed a second goal thanks to some good fortune. With 53 mins gone, Shankland set Moore through on the right and his cross was met by Moffat whose attempt was saved by Hutton but rebounded off the hapless Gold and into the net for 0-2.
Two quickly became three for Ayr when Shankland got his double on 56 mins. Moffat picked the ball up on the right and drove forward before sending a low cross to Shankland who coolly slotted the ball beyond Hutton for 0-3.
Arbroath were stunned and it only got worse for the home side, who were crumbling against Ayr’s devastating attacking prowess, when Moore made it four. Crawford passed the ball to Shankland on the edge of the area and he laid off to Moore who slammed the ball into the back of the net from just inside the box to make it 0-4 on 58 mins. The away fans hadn’t really had a chance to finish their celebration of the second goal before they found themselves 4 goals ahead.
United were ruthless in the second half and Shankland came close to his hattrick when he hit the post on 62 mins however it wasn’t to be for the striker who was subbed late on in the game for Forrest. That is now 9 goals in 8 games for the in-form Shankland.
Arbroath fell apart in the second half but managed to claw one back through Swankie on 85 mins when Ayr failed to clear and allowed Swankie to poke home from 6 yards for 1-4.
It was a game in which Ayr were not at their best but their ruthlessness going forward in the second half was too much for Arbroath to handle and they ran out comfortable winners. Ayr now welcome Raith Rovers to Somerset next Tuesday.
STARMEN – Lawrence Shankland 1st, Michael Rose 2nd, Jordan Hart 3rd.
ARBROATH – Hutton, Gold, Hamilton, Little, O’Brien, Yule, Linn, Whatley, McCord, Swankie, Denholm. Substitutes Hester, Prunty, Henry, Martin, Kader, Douglas (GK).
AYR UNITED – Hart, Boyle, Rose, Geggan, Moffat, Crawford, McDaid, Ferguson, Adams, Shankland, Docherty. Substitutes Gilmour, Moore, Forrest, McGuffie, Reid, Avci (GK).
Referee: Alan Muir