Ayr United 2 v 1 Hamilton Academical
The Honest Men started the season with a surprisingly comfortable victory over Premiership Hamilton in the Betfred League Cup.
With less than one minute on the clock Daryll Meggatt played a long freekick from his own half into the penalty area and, under pressure from Paul Cairney, Hamilton defender Jesus Garcia Tena was forced to put the ball behind. From the corner the ball was easily taken by keeper Remy Matthews (signed on loan the previous day from Norwich City) but referee Nick Walsh had spotted Ayr’s captain Nicky Devlin being bundled to the ground by Darian McKinnon as he attempted to make a run into the box. Penalty to Ayr after only 68 seconds.
Alan Forrest grabbed the ball and placed it on the spot before sending the keeper the wrong way and blasting the ball into the net giving Ayr an early lead.
Although having a lot of possession Hamilton’s response was slow and ponderous giving Ayr’s well-organised defence few problems and lacking quality in the final third. It took the Accies until the 17th min to create any real threat with Alex D’acol finding getting his head to a cross but sending the ball comfortably into Greg Fleming’s hands.
United were always looking dangerous on the break and in the 30th min Alan Forrest latched onto a Crawford pass down the right and charged into the penalty area but his shot was well saved by Matthews at his near post.
As the half developed Hamilton continued with their ponderous build-up and created very few chances with only a poorly taken freekick in the 40th minute which was easily held by Fleming to show for their efforts.
The second half saw United come out with added confidence and immediately started to put pressure on the Hamilton defence and in 48 mins they were rewarded with their second goal. After a series of attacks Brian Gilmour placed a through ball to Robbie Crawford near the edge of the penalty area on the right and Crawford turned inside across the front of the box, creating space before curling a sweet drive into the top right-hand corner of the net. Ayr were 2 – 0 up and deservedly so.
Hamilton immediately attempted to increase the tempo. After a series of corners Greg Docherty dashed round the Ayr defence on the left before driving the ball across the front of the goals where it was first knocked away by Meggatt and the follow up drive by Louis Longridge deflected away by a torpedo like block from Peter Murphy.
Hamilton suffered a blow in the 55th min when central defender Jesus Garcia Tena was stretchered from the field after badly twisting his knee following a tackle by Paul Cairney.
This was the sign for Hamilton to make the first of a number of substitutes and Ayr would also do so before the end of the 90 minutes.
Hamilton substitute Daniel Redmond’s first touch was a 20-yard drive at the United goal but Fleming was a match for his efforts.
Hamilton failed to show the guile or application necessary to break down the United defence and it was Ayr who were beginning to look more likely to be next on the scoresheet. With 65 mins gone skipper Devlin nicked the ball from Redmond and charged out of his own half cutting diagonally towards the centre of the penalty area and past two defenders before slipping the ball to Forrest in the box. Forrest took the ball with his right foot try to curl the ball into the net but keeper Matthews got down low to save.
Seven minutes later Forrest again had a great chance. Gilmour clipped the ball forward into space behind the Hamilton backline and Forrest seemed set to go one-on-one with the keeper but the forward misjudged the bounce of the ball and veteran midfielder Dougie Imrie managed to clear.
Hamilton never really looked likely to score and it came as a great surprise when in the 93rd min they got the ball in the back of the net. A deceptive high looping ball towards the penalty area somehow evaded the head of Murphy and was expertly cushioned by Redmond off his chest to Longridge. Longridge coolly flicked the ball onto his left hand side before blasting it into the net.
There was no time back for Hamilton and Ayr deservedly won this match gaining three points. Next for Ayr as a trip to Paisley on Tuesday where they will face St Mirren in the next match of Group G of the Betfred Cup.
Fleming, Devlin, Boyle, Murphy, Meggatt, Crawford, Adams, Docherty, Gilmour, Cairney, Crawford Substitutes: Hart (GK), Wardrope, McGuffie, McCracken, Johnson
Matthews, Docherty, Kurakins, Devlin, Tena, Gillespie, Imrie, Mackinnon, D’acol, Longridge, Crawford Substitutes: Martin (GK), Redmond, McMann, McGregor, Boyd, Tierney, Hughes
Referee: Nick Walsh