Forfar Athletic 0 v 2 Ayr United
United went three points clear at the top of League One as they eased to a 2-0 victory at Station Park against Forfar. Moffat opened the scoring early on before Moore wrapped things up with a penalty late in the second half.
Almost from the kick-off United caused panic in the Forfar defence when keeper McCallum rushed out of his box to shepherd a log Ruddy kick-out out of play. He hadn’t reckoned on the determination of Lawrence Shankland who sneaked in behind him, stole the ball and was only prevented from causing further damage by fullback Whyte slamming the ball out for a corner.
Forfar were showing nervousness and disquiet at the back with centre-back Munro and keeper McCallum resorting to yelling at and shoving each other over a failure to clear after McDaid went close just 2 mins later. Loons’ handbags discarded, United kept up the pressure.
On 10 mins Ayr went ahead following some dazzling skill by Moffat. Moffat received the ball from Boyle, wide on the left, then nutmegged Millar before surging into the box and curling a shot across the face of goal and in at the back post. In what was to be a tricky game, Ayr had made the perfect start.
Forfar’s first chance of the game came on 18 mins when Easton found space in the box but Geggan was quick to react and blocked his shot from close range. The home side were beginning to grow in confidence and almost found an opening on 28 mins. Again, it was Easton who was causing problems but when Dingwall passed the ball into his path he blazed well over from almost the same position as before.
The last chance of the half fell on 43 mins to the impressive Forrest. Forrest worked a quick one-two with McDaid some 25-yards out before darting to the edge of the box where his curling drive caught was caught by the wind to drag it wide of the post, much to the relief of the well beaten McCallum.
Forfar had the first chance of the second half when Ruddy fumbled a 30-yard wind-assisted driven freekick from Millar but the United grasped the ball back as it tried to squirm goalward.
Ayr’s first opportunity of the second half came to Shankland on 51 mins. Boyle’s cutback to Shankland in the box was slightly behind the striker who couldn’t get a proper connection but still forced the keeper McCallum into an acrobatic one-handed save at his near post.
McDaid was then put through into the box on the right by Forrest but under close attention from Whyte he could only drive his shot high.
Forrest had been causing the Forfar defence problems all game and he almost picked up a goal of his own on 62 mins. Receiving a pass from Shankland, Forrest side-stepped Whyte to create a space but the defender reacted well to get back and block the shot.
Ayr were on fire and moments later when the tireless Shankland burst down the left before sending a looping and curling cross to the back post where McDaid volleyed first-time but again saw his shot rise over the bar.
Ayr were to wrap up the three points when they were awarded a penalty on 80 mins. Shankland sprinted past Munro in the box who saw no other option than to drag the United man back. A penalty was awarded, and Munro was dismissed for his troubles. Substitute Moore stepped up and slammed the ball down the middle to give Ayr a two goal cushion.
On 85 mins it looked like Ayr had another penalty when defender Bain barged Moore in the back as he drove into the box going one-on-one with the keeper. Referee Kevin Graham saw nothing amiss and waved the claim away.
Forfar could have grabbed one back at the death, Miller doing well to get down to the line before finding fellow substitute Hurst just 7-yards out, but he fluffed his shot well wide when it looked easier to score.
It was a hard shift for United but a well-deserved three points. Ayr now travel to Albion Rovers in Coatbridge on Tuesday for their 3rd consecutive away game as they seek to maintain their lead at the top of the table.
McCallum, Whyte, Munro, Travis, Bain, Mackintosh, Dingwall, Millar, Easton, Aitken, Hilson. Subs Peters, MacIver, Hurst, Allan, McNaughton, Miller, Adam.
Ruddy, Boyle, Rose, Bell, Geggan, McDaid, Kerr, Crawford, Forrest, Moffat, Shankland. Subs Hart, Moore, McGuffie, Ferguson, Docherty, Reid.
Referee: Kevin Graham