Ayr United 5 v 0 Stenhousemuir
The Honest Men produced another dominant display to brush aside Stenhousemuir at Somerset Park on Tuesday evening. A hattrick from Lawrence Shankland (his second in three games) and a brace from Michael Moffat ensured that United coasted to a comfortable 5-0 victory.
United got off to the perfect start after only 2 mins as Shankland opened the scoring. Moffat collected the ball and flicked it forward towards McGuffie but it deflected off Dickson and into the path of Shankland on the right-hand side of the box. The striker confidently blasted the ball past advancing keeper McMinn, and into the net. 1 – 0 United.
It wasn’t long before it was 2 and when it came it was a goal of real quality. On 7 mins, Ayr worked the ball out from the back on the right before Moffat switched the ball to the left for Forrest. The winger cut inside, flicked the ball to a heavily marked Moffat at the edge of the box who, with his back to goal, slipped the ball wide to the overlapping Harvie. The left-back delivered a superb, lofted, curling cross to the back post where the un-marked Shankland nodded home. Ayr were in a clinical mood and it was 2-0 before the 10 min mark.
Stenny’s first chance of the game fell to the veteran McMenamin on 12 mins. Breaking free on the right he dribbled into the box but dragged his shot wide of the near post from a promising position. Moments later Dickson did well down the left before smashing the ball across the 6-yard line but somehow McMenamin missed the ball when it appeared a simple tap in.
Ayr then went close again. A poor cross-field pass put defender Reid into all kinds of difficulty and Forrest nipped in and stole the ball before dashing forward. With Shankland running interference to his left, Forrest turned inside and released a shot from 18 yards that squeezed past the post with the keeper beaten.
On 28 mins, Rose found McGuffie on the left with a delicious ball through the Warrior’s defence, allowing him to send in a pacey low cross into the box. 8 yards out and under pressure from Johnson, Forrest missed the ball completely when it seemed certain he would score.
Dickson was proving to be the visitor’s most influential player and he went close with a 25-yard drive that fizzed just wide of the right-hand post on 32 mins.
Any hope of a Stenhousemuir revival hit a huge dent when Ayr slotted away their third on 41 mins. Forrest made his way forward before slipping the ball between Johnson and Tena and into the path of Shankland on the right. The striker surged into the box before sliding the ball across the face of goal for Moffat to tap in at the back post.
The Honest Men didn’t let up and came out the traps even quicker in the second half. 1 min in and Harvie’s low ball from the left was met by that man Shankland who coolly fired into the net to bag his hattrick and put the game beyond doubt for Ayr. A second hattrick in as many games at Somerset Park this season for Shankland. 4-0 Ayr and 46 mins gone.
Even with the foot off the pedal, United continued to dominate and created chance after chance. Just 1 min after Shankland’s strike, McGuffie curled a shot inches wide from the edge of the box, and on 50 mins Harvie’s header from a McGuffie freekick hit the outside of the bar with keeper McMinn beaten.
Arguably Stenny’s best chance of the game came on 52 mins when Murdoch was dispossessed allowing McGuigan in behind the United defence. Rose managed to make up ground and block the ball, but it spun back into the path of McGuigan. The striker then somehow managed to drag the ball wide of the left-hand post when it seemed easier to score.
The elusive 5th goal for Ayr just didn’t seem to want to come, and next, it was keeper McMinn’s time to deny United. With 14 mins to go, Forrest slipped the ball to Moffat on the right and he delivered a precision cross onto the foot of the in-rushing McDaid. The substitute smashed the ball goalwards only to see the Warriors’ stopper pull off a tremendous blocking save.
Twice in 2 mins, Forrest went close. First, a quick one-two with Moffat sent the winger racing into the box but his shot went wide to the left under pressure from Dickson, and second, a shot from almost the same position went inches wide to the right.
1 min later (80 mins) Declan McDaid fired a vicious drive just over the bar from 18 yards after working his way forward.
Stenhousemuir tried manfully to grab something from the game but again poor finishing was to be their downfall. Quickly released by his keeper, Duthie charged forward from the edge of his own penalty area, deep into the Ayr half. Ferguson seemed to have done enough to stop the run, but his flick bounced off the shins of Forrest and back into the path of Duthie who played in McGuigan who again managed to miss with a clear shot on goal.
To wrap up a 5-star performance, the final goal of the game came immediately. As Ayr moved back up the park, a mistake by Stenny’s Morgyn Neill saw him passing the ball across the edge of his penalty area, straight to Ayr’s McDaid. McDaid played the ball through to Moffat, on his left, and the striker curled a fantastic shot into the bottom right corner to complete the scoring.
Ayr now travel to Firhill on Saturday for a match which will decide the winner of Betfred Group E. At present Partick and Ayr are tied on 9 points although the Honest Men have the better goal difference.
Doohan, Harvie, Kerr, Rose, Ferguson, Moffat, Forrest, McGuffie, Bell, Shankland, Murdoch. Subs Hare-Reid (GK), Crawford, McDaid, Adams.
McMinn, Reid, Johnson, Neill, Garcia Tena, Dickson, Halleran, Duthie, Cook, McMenamin, McGuigan. Subs Smith (GK), Sinclair, Donaldson, Gibbons, Ferry, Paterson, Kemp.
Referee: David Munro