Ayr United 3 v 1 Stranraer
Ayr United extended their unbeaten run to eleven games with a well-earned 3-1 victory over Stranraer at Somerset Park – a win which sends them back to the top of League One. Robbie Crawford and Jamie Adams scored either side of a Scott Robertson header to give United a 2-1 lead going into the break. Jordan Preston then confirmed Ayr’s victory heading home with 7 minutes to play.
Ayr went into the game on the back of a 1-0 win away to Stenhousemuir last weekend, whilst Stranraer suffered a crushing 3-0 defeat to Cowdenbeath. The Honest Men were without Brian Gilmour and Craig Moore who missed the game through injury while Stranraer were unable to unleash their new Argentinian striker, Luciano Nequecar as international clearance did not come through on time.
The home side started the game positively and were unlucky not to take the lead after six minutes as Jordan Preston and Jamie Adams both had shots cleared off the line by the Stranraer backline.
It wasn’t long before United got the opener and it came from tenacious midfielder, Robbie Crawford. Good build up play allowed Devlin to slide the ball to Docherty who quickly moved it on to Crawford. Crawford then took one touch before firing an unstoppable drive in off the post from eighteen yards, giving the keeper no chance. Fourteen minutes played and it was 1-0 Ayr.
The teams then started to cancel each other out but Stranraer had a glorious chance to equalise as a long ball from Rumsby freed Ryan Thomson. One on one with the goalkeeper the midfielder tried to slot the ball past the onrushing Greg Fleming who saved well to preserve his side’s advantage.
Stranraer were then awarded a very soft free kick as Ross Docherty was adjudged to have fouled Jamie McCluskey. Former United skipper Chris Aitken stepped up to float the ball to the back post where Scott Robertson was on hand to head home. A terrific delivery from Aitken and the game was all square.
Just ten minutes later Ayr were back in the driving seat after a superb team goal. The ball was played out from the back before eventually finding Alan Trouten in space to turn. He then threaded an inch-perfect pass down to the by-line for captain Nicky Devlin to clip the ball into the box. His cross was met excellently by Jamie Adams who timed his run to perfection, thumping his header into the back of the net. 2-1 United.
The away side then had a strong penalty claim waved away by referee Gavin Duncan much to the anger of the Stranraer bench when winger Stirling appeared to be pulled back as he entered the box.
Next a Jordan Preston’s effort was deflected wide and from the resulting corner Ayr could have extended their lead but Andy Graham headed just over.
The second half started fairly quietly with Ross Docherty coming closest to finding the net with a long range shot which flew harmlessly past the post.
It was then the home sides turn to shout ‘penalty!’ as they had three claims for hand ball dismissed by the referee. The first came when Nicky Devlin took the ball deep into the box on the right and Stranraer’s number 19 Lee Mair slid in to dispossess him and rolled round to the ground. He then clutched the ball tightly in his arms. To the bemusement of all of those watching, referee Duncan awarded a freekick to Stranraer.
Next, Ayr floated in a corner from the left which Stranraer keeper McGurn appeared to misjudge allowing Jamie Adams to head towards net. Mark McGuigan on the back post then swatted the ball, not once but twice, away from the goals, leaving Ayr manager Ian McCall performing what could only be called the dance of disbelief in the technical area as Mr. Duncan waved away appeals.
Whilst these decisions appeared baffling he seemed to get the final handball correct. Releasing his hold on Andy Graham’s jersey in the box Stranraer’s Mair jumped with his arm raised and the ball appeared to hit off him. Closer scrutiny would suggest that he actually flipped up Ayr’s Adams’ arm just in front of his and that was what made the connection.
Preston then called David McGurn into action as he let fly from the edge of the box but the experienced keeper saved well.
Preston did, however, get his name on the scoresheet with a well-deserved goal. A short corner crafted by Alan Forrest and Ross Docherty resulted in the former swinging a lovely ball to the back post. Ryan Thomson could only head the ball back across the face of his own goal to Preston, 6 yards out, who powerfully headered home.
A solid performance from Ayr who look in confident mood after going unbeaten following an opening day defeat. However, Ian McCall’s men face a stern test away to Brechin City next weekend as they hope to remain on top spot.
Ayr United Fleming (GK), Devlin, Boyle, Docherty, McLauchlan, Graham, Adams, Crawford, Preston, Trouten, Cladwell Substitutes Shaun Newman (GK), Forrest, Murphy, Donald, Nisbet, Muir, McCracken
Stranraer McGurn (GK), Pettigrew, Rumsby, Mair, Robertson, Aitken, McCluskey, Thomson, Stirling, Cairney, Mcguigan Substitutes Currie (GK), Keenan, McGill, McCloskey, Longworth, Turner
Referee: Gavin Duncan