Brechin City 0 v 1 Ayr United
With five first team regulars missing, Brechin set out to make this match difficult for their Championship opponents, with a well organised defensive backline and a hard-working midfield which gave United little time on the ball. For their efforts, they limited Ayr to only a few chances throughout the first half although the Ayrshire men appeared comfortable with Docherty impressing in the centre of midfield.
When Ayr did carve out openings, former United keeper Graeme Smith was on top form and kept Brechin in the game. The first of his saves came on 21 mins when an Adams shot from the edge of the box seemed to be creeping in at the right-hand post but somehow the Brechin keep got down to turn the ball wide. On 35 mins O’Connell broke into the box on the right and rifled a shot towards the net only for Smith to spectacularly tip the ball over the top when the crowd expected to see the net bulge.
Brechin were limited to few chances in the first 45 mins and posed Ayr little problem with former Ayr striker Ross Caldwell very quiet and located deep in the impressive Balatoni’s pocket.
The second half settled into a similar pattern to the first with Brechin still to have a shot on target and Ayr pressing forward but being thwarted by resolute defending. Adams and Harkins twice had efforts blocked in the opening 10 mins then out of the blue Brechin almost snatched the lead.
A deflected cross from the right somehow reached Brechin winger Ally Love, in acres of space just 4 yards out, but keeper Fleming produced an excellent reaction save to the dismay of the home support.
On 70 mins Ayr finally got the breakthrough. Harkins was fouled some twenty yards out and McGuffie set up as if to play the ball into the box. Harkins broke left and McGuffie slipped the ball through to him. With exquisite skill Harkins drove to the bye line before whipping the ball across to the unmarked O’Connell who turned and smacked the ball into the net.
Although Brechin tried everything they could in the last 20 mins, Ayr were quite comfortable and only an excellent double save by Smith from Harkins and substitute Forrest stopped Ayr from doubling their lead.
Ayr now return to league duties on Saturday with a challenging fixture at Dunfermline.
Smith, Fusco, Smith, Hill, Dyer, Ford, Rodger, Lynas, Love, Caldwell, Buchanan Substitutes: McCormack, Dods, Graham, O’Neil
Fleming, Devlin, Boyle, Meggatt, Balatoni, Crawford, Docherty, Adams, McGuffie, Harkins, O’Connell Substitues: Avci (GK), Gilmour, Rose, Forrest, Donald, Wardrope
Referee: Alan Muir
Match Report: AUmedia