Ayr United 1 v 0 Forfar Athletic
As Ayr went in search of their first home win since August 23rd 2014, experienced defender Peter Murphy returned to the starting eleven after a long period of absence due to injury. Morgyn Neill stepped down to the bench, where he was also joined by regulars Brian Gilmour and Robbie Crawford.
Cheered on by a home support that was boosted by an enthusiastic group of Ayr United supporting Feynoord fans, who helped to create a great atmosphere in the Somerset Road end, the game started in torrential rain as United went in search of that elusive win. Both teams found it difficult to adapt to the conditions and the slippery Somerset surface and took time to settle.
Craig Murray took advantage of the surface on 10mins with a jinking run that saw the Forfar defenders twisted and turned and unable to match his close control. Murray forced his way into the penalty box but his angled shot from 15 yards was well saved by Rab Douglas in the Forfar goals.
As the teams struggled with the conditions they seemed reluctant to commit players forward and chances were scarce in the opening half hour with both defences dominating.
Stephen Husband almost broke through the Ayr defence in the 32nd min but Nicky Devlin slid in with a great tackle to deny him a goal scoring opportunity.
However in 34mins the game finally burst in to life after Jordan Preston collected a pass from David Robertson on the edge of the Forfar box. He still had a lot of work to do but skilfully manoeuvred the ball away from the Forfar defence, creating space in the process, before firing a low shot past the despairing glove of Rab Douglas to give Ayr a 1-0 lead.
The game continued to see-saw between both penalty boxes and just before half-time it should have been 2-0 for Ayr. Peter Murphy intercepted a stray pass before delivering a fantastic cross into the Forfar penalty area on to the head of the unmarked Allan Forrest. He appeared to do everything right, heading back across goal, but unfortunately for Ayr his header from 13 yards out went wide of the far post.
Forfar replaced Swankie with Denholm at half-time as the game restarted in a downpour. Danny Denholm made an immediate impact setting up a chance for Omar Kader but Hutton did well to save at the feet of the forward.
Forfar were dominating possession after the break as Ayr, the increasing wind in their faces, were happy to sit in and hit on the counter attack.
The Loons then sent on Martin Fotheringham in 65mins and he almost scored with his first touch with a shot from 25 yards that crashed off David Hutton’s cross bar.
With the weather conditions deteriorating both teams appeared to tire as the game moved into the final 15mins. Forfar went chasing the equaliser taking off defender Travis and replacing him with midfielder Gavin Malin, but for all their efforts they struggled to break down the determined United defence.
Chris Templeman did go close with a header in the 90th min for Forfar but Craig Murray should have wrapped up all 3 points for Ayr when he was clean through on goal in injury time. His close range shot was stopped by the knee of Rab Douglas but in the end his miss didn’t matter as Ayr held on for their first home victory since August 23rd 2014.
Ayr United – Hutton; Devlin; Blakeman; Murphy; McKenna; McGovern; Murray; Robertson; Preston; Forrest; Donald Subs – Newman; Beattie; Crawford; Gilmour; McCracken; Donnelly; Neil
Forfar Athletic – Douglas; Travis; Campbell; Malcolm; Dods; Young; Kader; Husband; Templeman; Swankie; Hilson
Subs – Trialist; Fotheringham; Denholm; Dale; Steeves; Malin; Baxter
Attendance – 1017