Queen of the South 5 v 0 Ayr United
High flying United were brought down to earth with a bump as Dumfries’ deadly Dobbie fired in four and had the comfort to shrug off a penalty miss, while former Honest Man Gary Harkins joined in with a superlative strike to take the total to five. To add to injury, Ayr were reduced to 10 men in the 78th min, when Daniel Harvie received a second yellow for throwing the ball at an opposing player.
Ayr just never managed to get into the game and were blown away by a superb first-half performance from Queens who took the game to United and the Ayrshire men were not given the chance to settle. The confidence and stability of the United rear-guard from earlier weeks disappeared and had an unsettled appearance, struggling to cope with Dobbie, Dykes and Stirling in particular.
Queens early pressure saw Doohan saving from a Dykes header and Dobbie suggesting what was to come with a delightful curling shot from the edge of the box going just wide, with Harkins pulling the strings in the build-up to both attempts.
It wasn’t long before Queens went ahead. Dobbie received the ball from Dykes, cut across the face of the United box, turned and evaded a light-weight challenge from Kerr, then blasted a curling drive into the top corner from 18 yards.
On 13 mins midfielder Josh Todd was lucky not to be red carded as a straight legged, off the ground, studs up challenge caught Andy Geggan square on the shin, but referee Colin Steven saw this only worthy of a yellow.
5 mins later and Queens were 2 up courtesy of a Dobbie penalty. Stirling darted through the centre of the United defence and went down heavily under very little or no contact from Daniel Harvie, but referee Steven had no doubt and pointed to the spot. Despite his protestations, Harvie was booked, and this would later come back to haunt the United defender. Dobbie stepped up, put Doohan the wrong way and doubled Queens’ lead.
Before United had time to blink, it was three for Dobbie and 3 – 0 for Queens. Under pressure from Murdoch, Dykes poked the ball through to Dobbie whose perfectly timed run saw him played onside by Harvie and into the box. The striker then took the ball round keeper Doohan and stroked the ball home.
United’s first chance came on 27 mins, Harvie crossing into the box from the left, by-passing Forrest before Shankland took control and unleashed a shot that Martin did well to save.
Still, Queens dominated and looked hungry for more. With 30 mins on the clock, they should have added to their tally. An uncharacteristically poor pass forward by Rose near the halfway line gifted the ball to Dobbie who pushed forward. Dobbie bypassed Rose by slipping the ball left to Dykes who went into the box one-on-one with keeper Doohan. Rose first pushed the Queens’ man in the back, then clipped his legs creating a certain penalty. Rose could regard himself a very lucky man only to receive a yellow from the referee, but the stage was set for Dobbie to grab his fourth, but the on-form striker fluffed his lines with Doohan diving to his right to turn the ball wide.
On 33 mins Ayr had their second chance of the half, Forrest latching on to a knockdown by Geggan before seeing his shot from 18 yards being turned away by keeper Martin.
If Ayr thought that they were starting to get back into the match, Queens had other ideas and went four up just 3 mins later with a superb strike from Harkins. The former Ayr man turned past Crawford and into the box on the right before delightfully curling the ball into the net at the far post.
Shortly after, Ayr were furious that they weren’t awarded a penalty when Shankland rose to meet a ball and appeared to be pushed two-handedly in the back by Marshall sending him to the ground, but the referee Steven waved play on.
With 6 mins to the break, Queen’ Michael Doyle surprisingly escaped a red card after intentionally blocking an Ayr freekick, then chasing after Mark Kerr on two occasions to go head to head with the Ayr man. Multiple handbag and playground-like shoving ensued between members of both teams before referee Steven decided to award Kerr and Doyle yellow cards.
At halftime, it was 4 – 0 Queens and they had created a comfort zone that allowed them to cruise in the second half, defending in depth but set up for quick breakaways. United replaced Rose and Kerr with Smith and Bell but the game felt well beyond recovery.
United came more into the game but found it impossible to break through the Queens’ defence although there were signs that dignity could be saved by grabbing at least one goal. With 73 mins gone, Alan Forrest looked to have pulled one back as he dribbled into the box from the left, then rounded Martin only to see his shot strike the heel of a defender and go clear.
On 76 mins referee Steven again seemed to have misplaced his penalty glasses where Ayr were concerned as he denied what appeared to be a stone-waller. After Crawford had nipped in to steal the ball Andy Stirling blatantly pulled the United man back by his Jersey, holding it out like a sail, just yards from the referee, but somehow the official missed it and waved play on. Twice lucky for the Queens’ man who had already been booked.
If they weren’t already, Ayr were consigned to defeat on 78 mins when Harvie gained his second yellow and was sent from the pitch for losing his cool and hitting the ball off of Stirling after play had been stopped for a freekick.
On 83 mins it was 5 – 0. Substitute Steven Bell let a long ball bounce past him straight to Dykes who beat Bell again before finding Dobbie who fired home. Game set, and match to Queen of the South.
Queen of the South
Martin, Mercer. Marshall, Doyle, Stirling, Jacobs, Todd, Dobbie, Semple, Harkins, Dykes Substitutes: Leighfield, Watson, Murray, Bell, Harvey, Ivison
Doohan, Harvie, Kerr, Rose, Geggan, Moffat, Crawford, Forrest, Adams, Shankland, Murdoch Substitutes: Hare-Reid. Moore, McDaid, McGuffie, Ferguson, Bell, Smith
Referee: Colin Steven