Ayr United 2 v 0 Forfar Athletic
Saturday 23rd August 2014
Ayr made it a hat-trick of league wins as they maintained their 100% league record after a hard fought 2-0 home win against a determined Forfar side. This victory stretched Ayr’s lead at the top of the SPFL League 1 to three points after Scott McLaughlin’s late brace saw United overcome a resilient Forfar.
Although this was billed as a top of the table clash the first half was a rather subdued affair as both teams attempted to dominate the midfield but only succeeded in cancelling each other out. However Ayr should have gone ahead after only 2mins when Brian Gilmour broke free from midfield to set up Alan Forrest but his angled drive from 12 yards was well saved by Rab Douglas in the Forfar goal.
There was concern on the Forfar bench a minute later after full-back Aaron James had to be stretchered off with a head knock and was replaced with substitute Mark Baxter, after a collision with Ayr’s Nicky Devlin.
The first half continued with both teams attempting to control the midfield as half chances came and went at either end but neither side had sufficient composure in front of goal to capitalise on the opportunities that came their way. Stephen Husband and Danny Denholm had the best of Forfar’s chances with Ryan Donnelly coming close for Ayr.
In the 37th min a superb four man break from the edge of Ayr’s penalty box almost caught out the Forfar defence as Mikey Donald’s dangerous cross was turned behind for a corner right in front of a gaping goal. Ayr had a good claim for a penalty ignored by referee Walsh from the resultant corner as Brian Gilmour appeared to be crudely challenged from behind right in front of the referee.
The first half ended with bookings for Ayr’s Devlin and Swankie of Forfar.
The second half started in similar fashion to the first with scrappy passages of play resulting, as both teams vied for dominance in the midfield area of the pitch. Forfar attempted to deny Ayr space in midfield by playing a high defensive line and as the game progressed and energy levels reduced the game began to stretch. This allowed the match to flow more freely but not before a number of fouls during this early spell saw referee Walsh finally lose patience and in the 62nd min he booked Forfar’s Templeman for persistent fouling.
In the 65th min Mark Roberts made his first change replacing Peter McGill with Dale Shirkie and 2mins later Forfar also decided to change tact by replacing the height of Templeman for the pace of Omar Kadir.
At this point tempers began to fray on the touchline as the game was stopped briefly to allow referee Walsh to have a quiet word in Ayr coach Andy Millen’s ear.
The game started opening up with 20mins to play and in the 77th min goalie David Hutton and defender Peter Murphy combined, to initially block and then clear from the goal line, a net bound volley from Forfar’s Danny Denholm.
Mark Roberts decided to add fresh legs for the last 10mins by introducing youngster Sean McKenzie for the hardworking Brian Gilmour and changing the formation to a 4-4-2. Forfar also tried to inject some more pace to the proceedings by replacing Dale Hilson with James Dale.
However it was the introduction of Dale Shirkie that would prove to be the more influential when in the 85th minute he latched on to a long pass and burst through the centre of the Forfar defence. His attempted lob was well blocked by the onrushing keeper Douglas. However the loose ball found its way to Scott McLaughlin who composed himself before drilling a sweetly struck right foot drive low to keeper Douglas’ right hand corner from around 22 yards. The keeper did his best and although he got a hand to the shot couldn’t prevent if from crossing the line as the Ayr support behind his goal erupted with delight as Ayr went one up with 5mins to play.
And like buses where you wait all day for one and then two come along at once it was the same for the Somerset faithful. They were rewarded for their patience in the 89th min when Alan Forrest was felled in the box after a jinking run. Scott McLaughlin stepped up to slot home the resultant penalty to score his and Ayr’s second goal of the game and ensure Ayr maintained their 100% league record and top spot in the SPFL League 1.
Hutton; Devlin; Donald; McLaughlin; McKinley; Murphy; Gilmour (McKenzie 81′); McGovern; Donnelly; Forrest; McGill (Shirkie 65′)
McKenzie; McArthur; Shirkie; Roberts; Muir; Newman
Douglas; Dunlop; James (Baxter 6′); Husband; Malcolm; Dods; Hilson (Dale 84′); Young; Swankie; Templeman (Kader 67’) ; Denholm
Kader; Dale; Malin; Fotheringham; Steeves; Baxter; Salmon
Attendance – 1156
Referee – Nick Walsh
Reporter: David Kennedy (AUmedia)