Ayr United 3 v 3 Peterhead
With 87 minutes on the clock it appeared that the gods were on the side of Peterhead in this enforced replay after Peterhead had fielded an eligible player back in November. The heavens were darkened and strong winds drilled heavy rain towards the Ayr United goals and Jordan Brown had blasted the ball into the net from 25 yards to make the score Ayr 2 v 3 Peterhead, for what seemed a late winner to repeat the November result. But this was not the Ayr United of a few months ago where heads would have dropped with the acceptance of defeat, and when one minute later Jordan Preston got his third goal in four games for United this was nothing less than they deserved.
But this game wasn’t just about the last few minutes, It had everything, horrendous weather, dogged determination, controversy, and goals. Both managers were careful with their comments but referee Craig Charleston’s decision-making was certainly controversial. What appeared blatant handball by Craig Beattie led to Ayr’s second goal, while the lead up to Peterhead’s second came from a freekick that only the referee saw as foul play, and their third from a corner which was given although the ball was clearly hit out of play by a Peterhead player.
The game had opened up in lively fashion as he took the lead after two minutes. Good interplay between Ayr’s Jordan Preston and Craig Murray led to a corner on the right. Adam Blakeman hit the ball in strongly allowing Nicky Devlin to use its power to head home from close range.
Peterhead seemed oblivious to this setback and were level in 11 minutes. After a good spell of play, Jamie Stevenson found himself in plenty of space down the left-hand side and charged into Ayr’s penalty area before cutting back into the path of Gary McDonald who smashed home from 6 yards.
Although Peterhead appeared to have more of the game it was Ayr who went ahead again in the 28th minute. A ball in from the right was met by Robbie Crawford whose header crashed off the crossbar causing panic in the Peterhead defence. As it was returned to the back post the ball appeared to hit off Craig Beattie’s outstretched arm before being smashed into the net. Both managers were later to comment that there seemed blatant handball but not for referee Charleston who pointed to the centre circle.
With a strong wind at their back, Peterhead grabbed control of the second half but it took them until the 71st minute to draw even. A contentious decision gave Peterhead a corner. The first one was cleared then Stephen Noble’s wind -assisted in swinging corner evaded the Ayr United keeper and defence and appeared to go straight into the net although Jamie Redmond also tried to claim the goal.
On 87 minutes it looked like Peterhead had won this match. A tremendous 22 yard drive from substitute Jordan Brown put Peterhead 3 v 2 ahead.
But this is not the Ayr United of a few months ago and they were determined to get something from this match and just over a minute later they got their just rewards. Ayr forced a corner on the left side and as the ball came in Peterhead struggled to clear. Ayr sub Brian Gilmour hit the ball forward and after a rebound, Jordan Preston flicked the ball into the net to the joy of United gaffer Ian McCall who danced onto the pitch in celebration.
And so it finished three goals apiece and another vital point for Ayr United.
Ayr United: Hutton, Devlin, Blakeman, Murphy, McKenna, McGovern, Murray, Crawford, Preston, Beattie, Donald Subs: Newman (GK), Forrest, Robertson, Donnelly, Neil, Gilmour, McCracken.
Peterhead: Smith, Kerr, Noble, Strachan, Ross, McDonald, Dzierzawski, Redman, Rodgers, Stevenson, Cox Subs: McDonald (GK), McAllister, Brown, Riley, Smith, McLaren.
Referee: Craig Charleston