Ayr United 0 v 2 Dunfermline Athletic
Both sides were desperate to give their respective managers their first win in charge and overcome recent poor results, as they went in search of three vital points, which they hoped would kick start their stuttering league campaigns.
Ian McCall’s search for more attacking options in the transfer market proved fruitless this week so instead he decided to make changes to the starting line-up. Dale Shirkie started up front with Alan Forrest, as Ryan Donnelly dropped to the bench in a two pronged attack that the manager hoped would provide Ayr with more of a cutting edge. Robbie Crawford also dropped to the bench as he was replaced in midfield by club captain Scott McLaughlin.
Recently appointed Dunfermline manager John Potter’s search for new personnel proved more successful, as he captured the signing of Annan Athletic forward David Hopkirk, late on Friday night and he had no hesitation in pitching him straight into the starting eleven.
In the early stages of this game both teams struggled to cope with the blustery and cold conditions but with the wind at their backs Dunfermline settled the quicker. They edged possession in the opening stages but they only had two poorly taken corners to show for their efforts in the first 15mins.
After a sustained spell of pressure by Dunfermline a mistake by Dale Shirkie in the 23rd min ended with Gregor Buchanan being played in for a clear shot on goal. However his powerfully struck shot from 12 yards was well saved by David Hutton.
Brian Gilmour had Ayr’s first shot on target after 33mins in a rare attack from United. His well struck shot from the edge of the box was only parried by Dunfermline goalie Ryan Scully but no Ayr player was on hand to feed off the scraps and Dunfermline scrambled the ball to safety.
Back came Dunfermline though and they almost went ahead through an Andy Barrowman header in the 36th min but up popped Ayr’s McGovern to head clear off the line.
Although they had the bulk of possession in the first half Dunfermline’s chances were few and far between. The two teams went in at half time all square with Shaun Byrne’s shot from 22 yards, just 2mins from the break, being the last decent chance before the interval.
Dunfermline replaced Jim Paterson with Alex Whittle through injury at half-time as The Pars were forced into re-shuffling their back four but this didn’t appear to affect them too much.
David Hutton was forced into a tremendous one handed save in 50mins as another chance fell to Gregor Buchanan. His first time left foot volley thundered towards the Ayr goal but Hutton showed great reactions to tip the ball over the bar with his right hand.
Ayr were using the wind and conditions to their advantage as they began to press Dunfermline further back in to their own half but the Pars always carried a threat going forward as they looked sharp on the counter attack.
And in 66mins they caught Ayr napping when a quickly taken short corner ended with a Hopkirk cross being met by Andy Geggan and he headed home from close range to give Dunfermline the lead.
Dunfermline again could have went further ahead in 72mins when Barrowman went close with a header. Brian Gilmour also saw a good opportunity wasted for Ayr as he fired a shot over from just inside the penalty area.
Dunfermline looked to be in the ascendancy as the game approached the last quarter of an hour, so Ian McCall replaced Blakeman and McLaughlin with Crawford and Nisbet.
There was further drama for Dunfermline with 10mins left to play as they were forced in to replacing keeper Scully, with Goodfellow, as he left the field of play suffering from knock to the head.
As Ayr went in search of an equaliser and with time almost up Dunfermline broke up the park and found David Hopkirk in space just inside Ayr’s penalty box. He showed good composure before firing a low right foot shot beyond David Hutton to seal the victory for Dunfermline and claim all three points for The Pars.
Hutton; Devlin; Blakeman; McGovern; Neill; Gilmour; Murray; McLaughlin; Shirkie; Forrest; Donald. Subs: Newman (GK); Crawford; McCracken; Beattie; Donnelly; Nisbet; Slane
Scully; Geggan; Paterson; Martin; Buchanan; Spence; McAusland; Byrne; Barrowman; Moffat; Hopkirk. Subs: Goodfellow (GK); Falkingham; Thomson; Stirling; Smith; Millen; Whittle
Match Report: David Kennedy (AUmedia)