Ayr United vs. Dundee United
Saturday 14th September 2019. Kick-off 3pm
On Saturday, the top two clubs in the Championship go head-to-head when unbeaten Dundee United are the visitors to Somerset Park in the league’s match of the day.
Ross Doohan, Daniel Harvie and Stephen Kelly return from international duty to bolster an Ayr United team that was unlucky to lose out to Wrexham on penalties in the Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup last weekend; Doohan and Harvie having starred for Scotland U21s in their win in Croatia on Tuesday night.
Ian McCall’s side will be looking to maintain their unbeaten home record this season but will face stiff opposition in Robbie Neilson’s Tangerines, who have netted 14 goals in their four league games so far.
Opponents: Dundee United’s last league game saw them sweep away neighbours Dundee 6-2 at home. A Calum Butcher double plus goals from Louis Appere and Lawrence Shankland from the penalty spot gave the Terrors a 4-1 lead at the break, with Ian Harkes and Cammy Smith completing the rout in the second-half.
Like Ayr, Dundee United exited the Challenge Cup last weekend, losing out on penalties to Arbroath. Robbie Neilson took the opportunity to rotate his squad but they were unable to find a way past a stubborn Arbroath rearguard at Tannadice.
All the attention is likely to be on Lawrence Shankland on his return to Somerset Park. The striker, who turned 24 last month, has scored 10 goals in his nine appearances for his new club this season, including four against Inverness on the opening day of the league campaign. Liam Smith also makes to return to his former club, while the club added defender Troy Brown to their squad this week with regular stopper Mark Connolly facing a prolonged spell on the sidelines through injury.
Team News: Craig Moore, Jamie Adams, Frank Ross, Craig McGuffie, Steven Bell and Andy Murdoch are out with injuries.
Ian says: “This was always at the back of the mind before the league games with Queen of the South and Partick, we really wanted to win both of those games and have a big top of the table clash here. Dundee United are a huge club with an excellent squad and they have started very well but this is Somerset Park, we have started well here in the league and we look to win every game here. We need a big home crowd and hopefully they treat it like the big game it is and get right behind us from the first whistle, exactly like what happened in Wrexham.”
Head to head (League):
Ayr United wins – 30
Draws – 15
Dundee United wins – 29
Dundee United have scored only one goal in their last six visits to Somerset Park, stretching back to March 1999.
Steven Bell’s 24th minute opener at Tannadice in April made it nine unanswered goals for the Honest Men against Dundee United last season, but second-half strikes from Pavol Safranko and Paul McMullan gave Robbie Neilson’s side their only win over Ayr.
Earlier in the season, Ayr recorded 2-0 (Shankland and McDaid) and 1-0 (Moore) wins at Somerset Park in October and January and stunned the Terrors with a 5-0 win at Tannadice in November, a match that saw Lawrence Shankland score four goals.
The Honest Men’s three league victories over Dundee United last season were their first since 1977.
Referee – Bobby Madden
Assistant Referee 1 – Jordan Stokoe
Assistant Referee 2 – Michael McCart
Adults – £18
Concessions (OAPs, students and 18-21) – £12
Under 18s – £6