Ayr United 4 – 0 Queens Park
United maintained their 6-point lead at the top of League 1 with an emphatic 4 goal victory over bottom club Queens Park. A 34 min hattrick by Lawrence Shankland had put the Honest Men on easy street by halftime and a Craig Moore second half penalty wrapped up proceedings at a sun washed Somerset Park.
Ayr were forced into some reorganisation without a ball being kicked when Andy Geggan felt a reaction to a calf injury during the warm-up and he was replaced by Craig Reid.
Fighting for their league survival, Queens Park adopted a positive attitude with an attacking 4-3-3 formation, but Ayr carefully managed the early stages of the match and were content to deal with The Spiders opening forays forward. In truth, Queens rarely caused any real concern in the opening 45 mins and the only attempts of note were; a Brady shot straight at Ruddy on 12 mins, a curling Brady freekick which was missed at the back post by Magee on 16 mins, and, 10 mins later, a Keena shot which was well saved by Ruddy.
With only 8 mins on the clock United Ayr gave a hint of what was to come when a glorious 30-yard pass from Rose picked out McDaid in the box, but his shot on the turn went just wide of the far post.
On their next move forward, Ayr took the lead. From a Reid throw-in on the right United worked the ball forward, McDaid then flicking the ball over the head of three defenders and into the path of Shankland in the box, where the striker slotted home past keeper White.
On 29 mins 1 became 2 for United. Ayr broke at speed down the right from the edge of their own penalty area and McDaid again found Shankland in the box, with a looping 35-yard pass. The striker controlled the ball on his chest and despite an attempt to pull him back by Fortheringham, he turned the ball home as he fell.
The best was still to come from Shankland with a stunning strike just 4 mins later. A McDaid freekick into the box bounced just before reaching Shankland who readjusted at speed before launching himself into a perfect side volley, smashing the ball into the net. A sublime 34-min hattrick for the on-form Honest Man.
The 2nd half was a much less exciting affair with United comfortable and confident as Queens huffed and puffed but only managed one attempt on a target, a header by Keena from a Brady corner which was easily held by Ruddy.
Twice, Ayr were frustrated as referee Cook waved away claims as Ayr players appeared to be deliberately blocked in the box and on 66 mins, substitute McGuffie’s shot after a turn inside from the right appeared to be stopped by defender Summers’ arm but again the official saw nothing amiss.
McGuffie had been introduced by Ayr as a 61st min substitute for Forrest and Queens Park were now being tortured on both sides by McGuffie and McDaid.
On 75 mins McGuffie picked up the ball some 25 yards out on the left, darted inside the box, turned inside one defender before being agriculturally upended by defender Fortheringham: penalty Ayr. Fellow substitute Moore then stepped up to smash truly unstoppable spot kick into the back of the net. 4 – 0 and it was all over.
Next up a visit to Methil to face East Fife on Saturday.
Ruddy, Reid, Bell, Rose, Boyle, Forrest, Crawford, Kerr, McDaid, Moffat, Shankland Substitutes: Hart (GK), Moore, McGuffie, Ferguson, Faulds, Murphy
White, Millen, Gibson, Fortheringham, Cummings, Magee, Leitch, Docherty, Keena, Brady, Burns Substitutes: Orr, Donnelly, Summers, Green, Foy, Mortimer, Millar
Referee: Barry Cook