Dundee United 4 v 0 Ayr United
Ayr suffered a frustrating 4-0 defeat to Championship leaders Dundee United on Saturday. Sam Stanton opened the scoring before Ayr were reduced to 10 men in a controversial penalty incident. Lawrence Shankland converted from the spot to double the hosts’ lead and further goals from Nicky Clark and Ian Harkes sealed victory for the home team at Tannadice Park.
Ayr had the better start to the game and dominated in the early stages with good passing and delightful one-touch football across the park.
The Honest Men looked up for it and recorded their best chance on 12 mins when Daniel Harvie sent a stinging shot from 20 yards goal-wards, but saw his effort kept out of the net by a great one-handed save from Terrors keeper Benjamin Siegrist.
Dundee United were sitting deep to defend Ayr’s attacks and didn’t create significant chances themselves. With about half an hour gone, the hosts started to look more controlled in midfield, but despite signs of improvement, Ayr kept the upper hand and remained the stronger side.
On 42 mins, however, Dundee United broke the deadlock against the run of play. Paul McMullan stole the ball from Steven Bell and cut in from the left to play it into the path of Sam Stanton who flicked in from close range and put the Tangerines 1-0 up at the break.
Dundee United had a more spirited start to the second half and now looked a real threat going forward.
On 57 mins, Stanton attempted a shot inside the box and as Mark Kerr came in to take the ball off him, both players lost their balance and went down. Referee Greg Aitken pointed to the spot. The decision appeared extremely harsh and United players surrounded the official. Daniel Harvie was booked and moments later, as Mark Kerr walked away, he was called back and given a straight red card apparently as a result of something that he had said.
Lawrence Shankland stepped up to take the penalty and slammed it into the top right-hand corner to make it 2-0 Dundee United.
Shortly after, on 61 mins, a cutback from Shankland set Nicky Clark up 8 yards out and he hit a first-time strike into the net to put the result beyond doubt.
Ayr looked rattled and the game went flat with Dundee United now in absolute cruise control.
The Terrors added a late goal to their tally on 87 mins when Stanton intercepted before Harkes broke forward to launch the ball into the net from 25 yards and seal the 4-0 victory.
Ayr now sit four points behind Inverness in the table and on equal points with Dundee but remain third on goal difference.
Next up, Ayr return to Somerset Park on Saturday where they host Queen of the South in the Championship.
Siegrist, L. Smith, Reynolds, McMullan, Clark, Stanton, Robson, Butcher, Harkes, Shankland, Watson
Substitutes: Mehmet (GK), Sporle, Connolly, C. Smith, Brown, King, Appéré
Doohan, Muirhead, Harvie, Kerr, Moore, Forrest, McCowan, Houston, Bell, Docherty, Kelly
Substitutes: Hare-Reid (GK), Roscoe, Geggan, Moffat, McGuffie, Ecrepont, McKenzie
Referee: Greg Aitken