Following success in the dugout for Martyn Campbell it was now time for the man on the moment to take to the field for his the testimonial game against Coleraine. The skipper for the day was welcomed to the field with a guard of honour from both teams as well and a fantastic reception from the crowd. Also, just to make the occasion that wee bit more special, Martyn’s brother, Mark lined up alongside him in central defence for the opening six minutes.
There was little to note in the opening exchanges as Coleraine were in control without creating any clear cut chances. However, the first chance did fall Ayr’s way after lovely build up play on the left hand side saw Paddy Boyle receive the ball high up the field. He then picked out the unmarked trialist with his cross but the striker mistimed his effort and the defender easily cleared.
Coleraine then broke up the park and a nervy moment in the Ayr backline caused by indecision let Rodney Brown sneak in but his effort rolled just past the post.
The next piece of action was end to end as both teams had chances within seconds of each other. A great ball in behind the visitor’s backline from Brian Gilmour freed flying fullback Nicky Devlin on the right by-line but his cutback was clocked just as it looked as if Ayr would make the breakthrough. From the resulting corner the away side countered with three attackers bearing down on goal with Paddy Boyle the only Ayr defender but the left back positioned himself well to foil the attack and put the ball behind for a corner. Coleraine then saw the ball cleared off the line after the ball was flicked on at the near post.
The opening half was brought to a close with very little in the way of clear cut chances for either side and the game remained a stalemate.
Into the second half and Ayr looked to push on as Michael Donald firing in a long range effort which landed just wide of the post. Ayr then made a whole host of changes as they turned to youth to try and bring a bit of energy to the game and they had another chance soon after as Devlin, trialist 1 and Robbie Crawford linked up well down the right but no one could get on the end of Devlin’s dangerous ball in.
The next chance of the game was to fall on seventy five minutes and turned out to be the only goal of the game. Coleraine were awarded a free kick 25 yards out in which Rhudi Higgins stepped up to curl delightfully into the top corner past Greg Fleming to give the Irish side the lead.
Young midfielder Michael Wardrope then tried to give the home side a boost as he sent a fizzing long range effort towards goal but his fierce drive was tipped over the bar by the Coleraine stopper.
The final chance of the game fell to Ayr as youngster Sean McKenzie was sent through on goal by an excellent Ryan Nisbet flick on but Docherty stayed big and saved at the feet of McKenzie as he tried to slot the ball into the far corner.
Full time and the game finished 1-0 to the away side. This was not the result Ayr were looking for and there was very little for the fans to get excited about but in terms of preseason it was another good run out. Also, it was a fantastic day for Martyn Campbell’s testimonial and a fitting tribute for a man who has dedicated terrific service to Ayr United and still continues to do so.