United continued their impressive start to pre season by picking up The Raydale Cup on Sunday afternoon in Gretna. Below are match reports from the semi final with Annan on Saturday and also from the final against Gretna on Sunday.
Ayr Utd V Annan
Raydale Tournament – Raydale Park, Gretna
Ayr travelled down to the Borders to participate in the Raydale Tournament along with Annan, Gretna 2008 and Carlisle City hoping to reach the Final on Sunday. The opening match of the tournament had seen Gretna outclass Carlisle City and stroll to an easy 3-1 victory to set up a final with the victors of the Ayr Utd v Annan match.
Conditions in the first game were glorious sunshine, however, as soon as Ayr took to the park the sun disappeared and the wind began to blow. The surface on the park was not conducive to Ayr’s flowing football as the grass was long, dense and very spongy.
The opening 10 minutes saw both teams getting used to the conditions although Ayr had most of the possession. In 5 minutes Ayr showed an attacking intent as Trouten got in behind the defenders and dashed into the box, but could only drag the ball wide from a tight angle. Annan were glad to see the ball roll narrowly past the post.
But it was not all United as Annan attempted to push forward and in 7 minutes, Matthew Flynn found space in the box and flicked the ball goalwards, but Fleming dived to his left and saved comfortably. Only 2 minutes later, Peter Wetherson blasted a free kick over the bar from the edge of the box and this signalled a period Annan dominance with Ayr sitting deep and defending stoutly.
Then came the opening goal from Ayr. In 14 minutes, Mikey Donald picked up the ball on the centre line and beat three players before giving a “messi glance left” (no look pass) and wrong footed a defender before slipping a ball through to Ayr’s Trialist who sweetly placed the ball under the keeper into the net.
Ayr stepped up their forward pressure and in 17 minutes with Annan defenders were panicked into giving away a free kick 20yds out and Alan Trouten’s cultured free kick rattled the crossbar.
Ayr became dominant with a much more fluid controlled slick passing style and in 43 minutes came the second goal.
Nicky Devlin played a ball down the right and Alan Trouten controlled right on the bye line and sent a flicked cross to the back post, where Mickey Donald casually nodded home from 2yds.
Half time and it was Ayr Utd 2 -0 to the good.
The second half was not as energetic and franetic as the first as both teams adapted to the ever changing conditions and cancelled out each other’s attacking threats.
Annan almost drew a goal back in the 50th minute when Josh Todd broke into the box on the left hand side, but his shot went wide of the goal, but suggested that Annan were on the lookout for a goal.
That goal eventually came in the 58th minute when Todd again latched onto a ball in the box and sweetly passed into the centre, to be met by Wetherson on the penalty spot and the striker confidently stroked the ball into the net past Fleming.
Ayr replaced the limping Gilmour with Nisbet in the 59th minute after Gilmour suffered a dead leg. This proved to be an inspired substitution. Annan also took the opportunity to replace half their team in attempt to reinvigorate their fortunes.
In the 62nd minute, Donald played an excellent ball forward to the Trialist, who spotted an excellent diagonal run by Nisbet, who controlled the ball before blasting a drive which brought out a great save by Annan’s keeper.
Nisbet’s speed and fizz caused problems for the Annan defence and two more runs into the box were only thwarted by the keepers lunge and last minute tackles. However, the youngster was not going to be denied for too long.
In the 73rd minute, Nizzy’s preditorial eye for goal saw him latch onto a through ball from the Trialist on the left hand side of Annan’s goal. He controlled the ball almost on the bye line, turned and curled the ball into the far corner of the net. A sublime finish by the youngster sealing a 3-1 victory for Ayr Utd.
Raydale Tournament Cup Final Report
Gretna 2008 0 v 1 Ayr United
Ayr, with two trialist forwards upfront, were first out of the traps instantly in the attack and in only two minutes had the first chance. With the ball swung in from the left Craig McCracken rose to powerfully header goal-ward, but with the goalkeeper well beaten Gretna somehow managed to scramble the ball off the line and away.
This early fright seemed to shock Gretna into action and six minutes the impressive Brandon Longcake surged forward and was only denied by a last-minute tackle by Gerry McLaughlin. From the resultant corner Dean Smith found the head of centre half Alan Inglis whose header went narrowly wide.
Gretna were beginning to cause Ayr considerable problems with wingers Longcake and Smith tantalising the Ayr defence and centre forward Iain Anderson running the channels. Ayr found it difficult to mount successful attacks with the trialist forwards appearing uncomfortable and unable to link up successfully with the promptings of Trouten, Murphy and Donald in particular.
In the 26 minute Ayr keeper Greg Fleming pulled of an excellent save from Longcake who controlled a long ball to the edge of the penalty area before turning and lashing the ball goal-ward. Fleming reacted quickly and his threw himself at full stretch to his left tipping the ball away.
Ayr reacted instantly, with Mikey Donald driving down the left and playing an inch perfect pass to Trouten whose turn and drive flew narrowly over.
Things were beginning to get a bit tasty with tackles flying in and a number of personal ‘battles’ breaking out. This was not for the fainthearted and at points it looked like it might get out of control as tempers frayed in the heat. It was however surprising that Ayr’s Trouten became the first player of the tournament to be booked for dissent. During the period of armed neutrality at half time manager McCall started phase one of his master plan to create what he believed was probably ‘the youngest Ayr team to win a trophy’.
Fleming, Boyle, Trouten, Murphy and one trialist made way for Newman, Wardrope, the experienced Gilmour, Nisbet and McKenzie.
From the kick-off Nisbet and McKenzie began to torture the Gretna defence. The previously impenetrable Gretna backline seemed unable to deal with and Nisbet’s speedy darting run runs and McKenzie’s close control and ability to pick out Nisbet with laser-like accuracy. After only one minute on the park McKenzie controlled the ball before turning and ranging down the right-hand side before playing the ball into Nisbet on the edge of the box allowing him to drive the ball towards goal.
Two minutes later Nisbet returned the compliment putting McKenzie through into the box but he was denied by a good save by Parker in the Gretna goals.
On 48 minutes an atrocious tackle from behind on Mikey Donald resulted in Gretna winger Dean Smith receiving a yellow card.
The balance of the game had totally turned with the Ayr youngsters using their pace and skill to take the game to Gretna. McKenzie, Nisbet and Michael Wardrope all created chances but were denied by last minute tackles and the agile Parker.
Then came a moment of near tragedy for United when Wardrope attempted to clear from his own penalty area only to see it blast of the head of the unaware Scott Milligan and return at pace towards the Ayr goal. Fortunately keeper Shaun Newman was alert and scrambled back to clutch the ball on the line.
Ayr continued to press forward with McLaughlan’s deft flick at the front post going inches over, Nisbet pulling out an excellent save from Parker, and on 73 minutes a Gilmour freekick from the edge of the box saw the keeper again doing the miraculous by getting his hand to the ball and tipping it onto the bar. There was a feeling that something was about to happen and happen it did.
McKenzie picked up the ball just inside the Gretna half and pushed forward with Nisbet running decoy to his left. The Gretna defence was pulled out of position and McKenzie picked out Gilmour to his right in acres of space. Gilmour composed himself and dispatched the ball past the despairing keeper and into the net.
Another late tackle, this time by Gretna’s Danny Graham, resulted in another yellow card.
This had now become comfortable for United who had, throughout the half, added to the teams young look by replacing trialist 2, Donald and captain Nicky Devlin with Jamie Ballantyne, Stuart Faulds and James Hilton who all to slipped into their roles with ease.