Forfar Athletic 2 v 0 Ayr United
Forfar ended a run of five matches without a win thanks to goals from Stephen Smith and Omar Kader to leave Ayr without a win in their last six outings and edging closer to the foot of the table.
Before the game both teams reported a number of players missing through injury but it seemed both managers were involved in psychological mind games as four of the players ruled out started the game.
Ayr were boosted by the return of the experienced trio of Nicky Devlin, Mikey Donald and Peter Murphy to the starting line-up which gave the team and supporters the hope of a return to winning ways.
However that hope was found to be misplaced when after just 4 mins Stephen Smith picked up a pass inside the Ayr half in acres of space. As no one confronted him or attempted to engage with the midfielder he confidently strode towards the Ayr goal before unleashing an unstoppable drive from fully 25 yards, to leave David Hutton with no chance, as the ball ended up in the back of the Ayr net to give Forfar an early lead.
Ayr appeared rattled after losing the early goal and Forfar took advantage of this by taking control of the game in the early stages. In fact it looked as though Forfar should have been awarded a penalty after just 10 mins. Nicky Devlin appeared to push Stephen Smith in the back as he was setting himself for a simple tap in and his second goal of the game but referee Andrew Dallas ignored the Forfar claims and waved play on to the howls of disgust from the home fans.
Forfar controlled the game for long spells in the first half as Ayr struggled to mount any sustained pressure and any attacks worthy of note were few and far between. Craig Beattie cut a lonely figure up front as Ayr opted to play with a single striker and he was left to feed of scraps. Although he regularly got in to some good positions he was usually left isolated and outnumbered as the Ayr midfield struggled to link up with the striker or assist him with runs from deep.
Although Forfar dominated the bulk of the first half possession they found the Ayr defence more resilient than the opening stages had suggested. The experience of Murphy coupled with an impressive first half debut performance from loan signing Adam Cummins prevented Forfar from adding to their early goal and they went in at half time leading 1-0.
There were no changes by either side at half time and as the second half kicked off Ayr appeared to have a bit more of an appetite for the game as they upped the tempo and attempted to take the game to Forfar.
As in the first half hopes of an improved performance were found to be misplaced early in the second half. In the 56th minute a Gavin Swankie cross from the left was headed towards the Ayr goal by Templeman. His powerful header beat Hutton but crashed off the crossbar down on to the artificial surface and in to the path of Forfar’s Omar Kader, who had the simplest of tasks of heading the ball in to the unguarded goal and making it 2-0 to Forfar.
After this second set back Ayr still attempted to take the game to Forfar but their patient build up play invariably ended with at best a half chance, a shot from distance or a Forfar counter attack. The closest Ayr went in this period was when Mikey Donald found space down the left and sent in a terrific cross that found Craig Beattie in the penalty box. He out jumped the Forfar defence but his flashing header went just wide of Rab Douglas’ left hand post.
Mark Roberts replaced the tiring Beattie with Ryan Donnelly in 75 mins in an attempt to get something from this game as Forfar replaced goal scorer Kader with Denholm.
Ayr pushed captain Scott McLaughlin forward to link up with Donnelly. The extra presence seemed to help as Donnelly found himself in space a few minutes later but his first time angled volley was well saved by Douglas.
In the closing stages Ayr almost snatched a consolation goal but Dale Keenan’s header came back of the upright allowing Forfar to claim all 3 points in what was a relatively comfortable win for the Station Park outfit.
Attendance – 562
Hutton; Devlin; Kennan; Cummins; Murphy; Gilmour; Forrest; McLaughlin; Beattie; McGovern; Donald
Donnelly; Shirkie; McKenzie; Muir; Crawford; GK Newman