Dundee United 3 v 0 Ayr United
Ayr are still searching for their first point in the Championship after falling to a 3-0 defeat at Tannadice despite a spirited performance in the second half. Two first half goals from Simon Murray and Jamie Robson and one in the second from Willo Flood capped off a difficult day for the Honest Men.
Gaffer Ian McCall made three changes to the starting line up from last Saturday as Murphy, Adams and Forrest came in for Meggatt, Rose and Gilmour.
The hosts were on the front foot from the start and after 2 mins almost took the lead if it weren’t for a last ditch block by Crawford in the box from a Murray shot. In 9 mins, and with the home side continually pressing, a Donaldson header was well saved at point blank range by keeper Greg Fleming.
The early pressure proved too much for the Ayr defence and on 12 mins Adams needlessly tripped Smith inside the box giving the home side a stonewall penalty. Van der Velden stepped up to take the penalty but although his strike well saved by Fleming, Murray was first to react and nodded into the empty net from close range to give the home side a deserved lead.
Ayr’s first real chance came after 18 minutes through Boyle. As Ayr broke, Crawford squared the ball across the edge of the box to Cairney who played it left to Boyle. Boyle appeared in two minds and his pass-come-shot dragged across the 6-yard line, rolled over Kevin Nisbet’s toes and went wide. Being in such a promising position, Boyle may reflect that a direct shot would have been the better option.
Soon after Smith found himself through one-on-one with Ayr keeper Fleming but Adams made up ground and his last ditch challenge prevented Smith from doubling his side’s lead. Only moments later Murray headed an effort wide from close range as the home side turned up the heat.
Ayr nearly got themselves level in 33 minutes with a Gary Harkins’ drive from 30 yards forcing Bell into excellent full stretch save with Alan Forrest narrowly failing to reach the rebound.
3 mins later the Honest Men were forced to rue their missed chance as Dundee United claimed their second goal. The industrious Flood burst into the box on the right and the first shot from his cutback was initially blocked but the ball fell kindly to Robson who fired home to increase the home side’s lead. 2-0 after 36 minutes and Ayr’s hopes of causing an upset were slipping.
Ian McCall had his work to do at half time and introduced midfielder Brian Gilmour and forward Jamie Thomas for Forrest and Crawford as he sought to take something from the game. The changes appeared to have some affect and Ayr started brightly. On 57 mins they almost pulled a goal back through Thomas. Gilmour laid the ball off to Harkins and the veteran midfielder passed the ball wide to Thomas who had time to steady himself and take a shot but his effort went high and wide.
Two minutes later and Ayr had another chance with Thomas finding Harkins at the edge of the box but his powerful shot flew well over the bar.
Ayr started to run the play but for the second week in a row were punished through clinical finishing by the Tangerines’. From a long freekick substitute Obadeyi twice tricked Devlin into letting him past down the left and made for the line inside the box. His crisp, pin point cross was met by Flood who ran into space just 3 yards out and turned the ball into the net. 75 mins gone and it was 3-0 to the hosts.
Ayr brought on Craig McGuffie for the hard working Nisbet. As tired legs saw more space appearing, McGuffie quickly formed an understanding with Harkins and their quick interchanging passes and movement carved out additional chances. Their work provided opportunities for Thomas and Gilmour with McGuffie himself firing just wide from 30 yards out in the 86 min. Try as they would, Ayr just couldn’t find a way to put the ball in the net and time ran out on the Honest Men.
Ayr continue their search for their first points in the Championship and now welcome St Mirren to Somerset next Saturday in what is a crucial game for United.
Bell, Dillon, Donaldson, Toshney, Murdoch, Murray, Fraser, Smith, Flood, van der Veldon, Robson. Substitutes Zwick, Durnan, Spittal, Obadeyi, Telfer, Coote, Smith.
Fleming, Devlin, Murphy, Adams, Boyle, Forrest, Docherty, Cairney, Harkins, Crawford, Nisbet. Substitute Hart, Thomas, McGuffie, Gilmour, Rose, Meggatt, O’Connell.
Referee: Gavin Aitken
Match Report: AUmedia