Ayr United 2 v 2 Airdrieonians
On a gloomy grey day at Somerset Park, United came up short against a plucky Airdrieonians team who rode their luck at times but made the way back to Lanarkshire with a point firmly lodged in their kit bag.
Statistics suggest that Ayr (54% of possession, 13 attempts on goal with 8 on target as opposed to Airdrie’s 8 attempts and only 3 on target) should have won this one relatively easily but in the cold, hard light of reality the ‘Diamonds’ did what was needed and deservedly got something from the game. Manager Ian McCall was left to shake his head and wonder what his team have to do to turn such dominance into goals and 3 points.
The first half was a stuffy affair with both teams huffing and puffing but with neither one showing the quality to make the game their own.
Airdrie were first to have a decent attempt when on 6 mins, midfielder turned striker, Willis Furtado charged through the United defence before releasing a shot which Chris Higgins managed to block before keeper Jordan Hart collected.
Airdrie adopted a strong defensive line and relied upon speedy break away attacks as Ayr tried to find a route to goal. On 16 min full back David Ferguson made his way down the right before finding Michael Moffat in the box, the striker then created space and found Craig McGuffie free to his left. The usually assured McGuffie surprisingly lost control of the ball and the chance was lost.
One minute later Docherty played the ball forward from his own half and it was neatly flicked on to the on-rushing Moffat by Lawrence Shankland who immediately moved to get back in support. Under pressure, Moffat manged to get the ball back to Shankland but his left footed drive was blocked by keeper Rohan Ferguson before being hacked clear by centre half Jordan McGregor.
On 19 mins United scorned an excellent opportunity to take the lead from the penalty spot. Michael Rose thumped a high ball into the Airdrie half which Moffat head flicked to Shankland. As Shankland attempted to get the ball under control, defender David Brownlie slid in and poked it back towards his keeper. Moffat pounced and tried to take the ball around keeper Ferguson who unceremoniously up-ended him in the box.
There followed a few moments of confusion as assistant referee Calum Doyle stood with his flag raised apparently signalling that Moffat had been in an offside position. After a short discussion referee Steven Reid overruled his assistant and it was a penalty for Ayr and a booking for keeper Ferguson.
Lawrence Shankland, Ayr’s hot scoring property of the moment, stepped up and struct the ball to Ferguson’s right but the keeper got down and solidly deflected the ball wide for a corner.
The penalty miss seemed to take the wind out of United’s sails although Moffat came close when put into the box by Shankland 3 mins later but this time McGregor blocked and Luke Watt booted clear.
Ayr were made to pay for their profligacy on 28 mins when, against the run of play, Airdrie took the lead. As Tom Fry’s in-swinging corner from the left reached the 6-yard box, centre half McGregor lost his marker Michael Rose and bulleted a header into the back of the net. The Diamonds were one up.
Ayr continued to press but without success. On 31 mins McGuffie, Shankland and Moffat linked up well but the ball was taken from the toe of Moffat just as he looked certain to hit home. 12 mins later a Shankland header went over the bar and with 1 minute of added time on the clock a Moffat solo run ended with a shot that went wide.
A frustrated United went in at half-time wondering just what they’d have to do to get back on track but emerged from the tunnel looking rejuvenated.
Ayr piled on the pressure with Airdrie taking an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to defence. Ayr gained an early corner and both Shankland and Chris Higgins were denied by dogged defending and last second blocks. On 47mins, Robbie Crawford skilfully stepped past Airdrie skipper Ryan Conroy before unleashing a blistering drive from 18 yards that smashed off the post.
United were not to be denied and on 54 mins David Ferguson delivered a delicious ball in from the right, curving behind the defenders and away from the keeper before being struck home by Andy Geggan on the end of his well-timed run. 1-1 and Ayr’s appetite seemed to be whetted.
Just two minutes later, Ayr were in the lead and it was that man Geggan again. The midfielder won the ball in his own half before sliding it through to Moffat who charged forward. When Moffat slipped the ball to his right in the penalty area he found Geggan on a parallel course waiting to slam the ball home.
Ayr were in the driving seat and looking comfortable but would live to regret not going for the jugular and killing off their opponents.
Jordan Allan entered the field of play on 61 mins with a fire and determination that suggested he could cause problems and just 3 mins later he got onto a long cross from the left and his immaculate first-time volley from an angle slammed off the post with the thinnest of touches from keeper Jordan Hart. First to react was Willis Furtado and with the United defence looking on he smashed the ball into the net and Airdrie were on level terms again.
On 70 mins Airdrie again went close with a Tom Fry snap drive from 25 yards going over as Ayr stuttered and looked shaky. 2 mins later a Fry drive from the edge of the box was tipped over the bar by Hart.
This was becoming too close to call but Ayr started to regain some composure. With 73 mins gone, Shankland released Declan McDaid into the Airdrie half and the United substitute drove into the penalty box but his shot just scraped past the post.
On 76 mins Ayr should have taken the lead when double scorer Andy Geggan fluffed his lines and failed to claim a hattrick as he put a ‘free’ header wide from a Brian Gilmour corner.
Moffat, McDaid and captain Ross Docherty all went close but it was hearts in the mouth time as Airdrie almost stole all three points on 89 mins when an Allan shot from the left beat Hart but Rose cleared off the line.
United could also have snatched the points in the first minute of added time but Crawford’s strike was tipped over by keeper Ferguson.
A bemusing time for Ayr who had enough chances to win two games but must clear their heads for next Saturday’s encounter away to Forfar.
Ayr United: Hart, Ferguson, Higgins, Rose, Boyle, Crawford, Docherty, Geggan, McGuffie, Moffat, Shankland Substitutes: Avci (GK), Gilmour, Moore, Forrest, McDaid, McCowan
Airdrieonians: Ferguson, McIntosh, Brownlie, McGregor, MacDonald, Stewart, Watt, Conroy, Fry, Furtado, Cairns Substitutes: Kerr (GK), Russell, Allan, Tierney, Higgins, Edwards, Hastie
Referee: Steven Reid