Kilmarnock 1 Ayr United 0
The first ever Ayrshire derby to be played on an artificial surface ended with Kilmarnock progressing to the third round of the Scottish League cup at the expense of a valiant Ayr side who just didn’t carry enough of a threat to break through the Killie rearguard.
Ayr imposed themselves in the opening exchanges by taking the fight to Kilmarnock and created the first chance of the game in 3 minutes when Nicky Devlin latched on to a cross from the left to loop a header over Craig Sampson’s bar after good work by Donald.
Killie responded immediately by creating an opening for Jamie Hamill but his shot from 25 yards was partially scuffed and it trundled harmlessly wide with derisory cheers from the Somerset faithful, situated behind Hutton’s goal, ringing in his ears.
The pace of the game caught out Nicky Devlin who was booked in 8 mins for a lunging tackle on Kilmarnock’s McKenzie and from the resultant free kick Sammy Clingan crashed a curling shot off the crossbar.
Ayr regained their composure after this scare and showed that they would not be overawed by putting together some neat passages of play. However good pressure from Killie caused the occasional error which allowed them to break at pace creating chances for Pascali and then Obadeyi after a mistake from Devlin who redeemed himself with a great blocking tackle.
In 35 mins Alan Johnstone was forced into a change after Obadeyi picked up an injury and was replaced by Alexei Eremenko.
Ayr appeared comfortable as the game edged towards the mid-way point with Kilmarnock re-grouping after the enforced change. On the stroke of half-time Martin Campbell was booked for a late challenge but the teams went in at the break all square.
Kilmarnock started the second half with more resolve and took the game to Ayr. United seemed to struggle in the early stages but just as you thought they might crumble they found their feet again and came back into the game pinning Killie back in their own penalty area.
However it wasn’t long before Killie threatened again as Barbour found space on the right and raced down the flank stretching the Ayr defence. He found Eremenko in space and the classy midfielder showed just what he could do if given too much time on the ball by finding the head of Josh Magennis with a superb cross from 30 yards. Fortunately for Ayr Magennis made a complete hash of it completely fluffing his header from about 10 yards with Hutton watching as it bounced harmlessly wide.
But worse was to come for Ayr in the 69th minute when Rory McKenzie gave Killie the lead when he controlled a cross with his right foot before dispatching a low left foot shot past David Hutton.
Mark Roberts immediately changed things replacing Gilmour with McGill in the 70th min and followed this up 6 mins later by replacing a tiring Alan Forrest with Dale Shirkie.
Kilmarnock had further chances through Magennis and Eremenko but David Hutton saved well on both occasions before he pulled off the save of the night diving to his right to push away a Sammy Clingan free kick with one hand.
Ayr tried desperately to find that elusive goal that would take the game into extra time and in a grandstand finish almost sneaked an equaliser when Dale Shirkie had a goal bound shot blocked and another deflected over from close range by Jamie Hamill. However it wasn’t to be Ayr’s night and they went out of the league cup after a courageous effort, going down to a solitary goal at Rugby Park.
Ref: Craig Thompson
Hutton; Devlin; Mckinlay; Campbell; Murphy; Gilmour; Forrest; McLaughlin; Donnelly; McGovern; Donald
Newman; McKenzie; McArthur; Shirkie; Roberts; McGill; Muir
Samson; Barbour; Hamill; Connolly; McKenzie; Clingan; Obadeyi; Chantler; Magennis; Pascali; Muirhead
Brennan; Miller; Johnston; Cairney; Ashcroft; Slater; Eremenko
David Kennedy reporting for AU Media