Ayr United 2 v 3 Stenhousemuir
Going into this game both Ayr and Stenhousemuir were desperate for a positive result as recent poor form had seen them end up at the foot of the league table in 8th and 9th position respectively.
Initially things looked positive for Ayr as influential defender Peter Murphy, rated as doubtful before kick-off, took up his position in the Ayr defence as Mark Roberts decided to dispense with the usual back four and adopt a three man defensive formation.
In the very early stages this new formation appeared to give Ayr the initiative and they almost took the lead in 2mins when John Paul McGovern latched on to a weak clearance. His first time volley was well timed and sweetly struck but flashed just past Stenhousemuir keeper Fleming’s right hand post.
Apart from this early opportunity there was little to choose between the two teams in a scrappy opening period as neither side looked capable of dominating or entertaining the sparse 646 hardy souls who attended this league 1 fixture.
During Ayr’s recent run of poor form they have been guilty of losing early goals and this league fixture wasn’t going to be any different. After just 11 minutes a quick break by Stenhousemuir caught Ayr’s new three man defensive formation out. The four man counter attack was held at bay briefly by the three Ayr defenders on the edge of the box that resulted in a shot from distance which was well saved by the legs of David Hutton. Unfortunately for Ayr the loose ball fell kindly for Stenny forward Colin McMenamin who had the easy task of shooting in to an unguarded goal to put Stenhousemuir one up.
In the 23rd minute Stenhousemuir’s Walsh broke through the Ayr rearguard but a heavy second touch caused him to squander a great opportunity with only Ayr’s Hutton standing between him and a second goal.
Stenhousemuir appeared to be growing in confidence as the game progressed but Ayr managed to draw level with 27 mins on the clock. Captain Scott McLaughlin executed a superb left footed free kick from 22 yards that left Warriors keeper Greg Fleming with no chance to save and to level the score at 1-1.
This set back didn’t seem to upset Stenny’s confidence and in 40 mins they were back in the lead. A great move down the left hand side saw Gary Oliver deliver a superb in-swinging cross with his right foot which was superbly met by Colin McMenamin. His well-placed header gave David Hutton little hope of saving, as it clipped the underside of the bar on the way in to the Ayr goal, to give Stenhousemuir a half time 2-1 lead.
Mark Roberts made changes during the interval replacing Paul Slane with Ryan Donnelly but it was Stenhousemuir who started more brightly in the second period.
Former Ayr defender Alan Lithgow went close in 50mins drilling a shot just wide of the post but 3 minutes later things were about to get a whole lot worse. A long angled ball caught Ayr sleeping at the back and with McMenamin outpacing United’s defence David Hutton raced off his line to clear with his head at the edge of the box. The weak clearance was turned back towards Ayr’s goal and as the ball pinged about the Ayr penalty box it was that man McMenamin who popped up again to notch his and Stenny’s third with another simple tap in as Stenhousemuir went 3-1 ahead.
Ayr immediately replaced Keenan with Forrest in an attempt to get back into this game but it was Stenhousemuir who nearly increased their lead again, this time direct from a corner, but Kevin McKinlay was on hand to head clear.
United attempted to get back in to the game but struggled to consistently create any clear opportunities as Stenhousemuir seemed happy to allow Ayr to have possession and hit on the counter attack.
In the 89th minute Alan Forrest found space in the box and directed a great looping header past Stenny keeper Fleming to reduce the deficit to 3-2. However it wasn’t enough as Ayr went down to another home defeat that saw Stenhousemuir leapfrog above Ayr leaving United second from bottom.
Attendance – 646
Hutton, Devlin, Keenan, Cummins, Murphy, Gilmour, Salne, McLaughlin, Beattie, McGovern, McKinlay
Newman, Donnelly, Donald, Crawford, McKenzie, Forrest, Muir
Fleming, Duncan, Meechan, McMillan, Lithgow, Millar, Dickson, Hodge, McMenamin, Walsh, Oliver
Smith, Summers, Faulds, Fotheringham, Watt, Reid, Eddington
Report: David Kennedy