Ayr United: Raydale Tournament
Ayr United continued their preparation for the coming season by again taking part in the Raydale Tournament hosted by Gretna FC. Unlike last year the Honest Men failed to return with the trophy after unexpectedly losing their opening match against South Shields, but made some amends by hammering Gretna 8 v 0 in the third place play-off. Queen of the South came out on top the final with a 3-1 victory over South Shields but the scoreline flattered the Doonhamers who had to withstand incessant pressure from their South Tyneside opponents.
Ayr manager Ian McCall was disappointed with the defeat on the first day but insisted that it was more important for his squad to get game time and be fully prepared for the season to come. He highlighted the need for additional players, particularly in attacking positions, and that his squad was still ‘light’ but that players would be joining in the coming weeks. Two these would appear to be trialist strikers Andy O’Connell and Jamie Thomas. O’Connell scored in last week’s friendly against Stenhousemuir while Jamie Thomas struck two against Gretna. Highly rated Wales under 19 international Thomas would come on loan from Burnley.
South Shields 2 v 0 Ayr United
Gaffer Ian McCall fielded 2 trialists in the semi-final against South Shields with Andy O’Connell having his second outing and Kieran Gibbons (formerly of Aberdeen, Livingston and Cowdenbeath) looking to impress.
The semi-final started off at a quick pace with the English side taking a foothold in the match. After 3 minutes, Fleming was made to work by tipping over a volley round the post by Foley from close range.
Ayr’s first chance of the match came after 30 minutes with Crawford slipping the ball through to O’Connell in the box but the big striker was forced wide and his ambitious strike from a tight angle was well held by the South Shields’ trialist keeper.
With 39 minutes gone it was South Shields who took the lead through a touch of good fortune. Ex-Sunderland player Julio Arca swung in a freekick from the right and the ball evaded all the players in the box before being caught by the strong wind and curling into the opposite top corner leaving keeper Fleming clutching at fresh air.
It got from bad to worse for United 2 minutes later when controversially Devlin was adjudged to have fouled Foley for a penalty to South Shields. Devlin appeared to have made an inch perfect tackle flicking the ball away for a corner but the referee saw it differently. Captain Leepaul Scroggins made no mistake from the spot and coolly slotted home giving the English side a comfortable lead going into halftime.
Ayr did try to find a way back into the game in the second half and almost pulled a goal back on 53 minutes through Daryll Meggatt. Gilmour delivered a freekick from the right and Meggatt’s header went inches wide of the post.
Ayr continued to press and after 68 minutes almost scored in bizarre fashion. Gilmour swung in a corner and similar to Arca’s freekick, the ball was caught by the wind and this time almost went straight into the net if it weren’t for the keeper who managed to claw the ball away from the top corner.
In the latter stages Ayr had a series of chances which looked destined for the net but the clinical touch that was missing and they could not get back into the game.
Winners South Shields had booked their place in the final against Queen of the South in the final after the Dumfries side thumped Gretna 6-1 with goals from Dowie (x2), Smith (x2), Lyle (x2) with a trialist getting Gretna’s consolation goal.
Fleming, Devlin, Boyle, Meggatt, McCracken, Gibbons (T), Gilmour, Cairney, Forrest, O’Connell (T), Crawford. Substitutes Wardrope, McGuffie, Murphy, Hart (GK)
Trialist (GK), Baxter, Turner, Trialist, Storey, Arca, Palmer, Scroggins, Shaw, Cogdon, Foley. Substitutes Galpin (GK), Carson, Morse, Briggs, Byrne, Ramsay, Teasedale.
Gretna 0 v 8 Ayr United
In the 3rd place play-off, a youthful, yet ruthless, Ayr side thrashed Gretna 8-0. Goals from trialist Jamie Thomas (x2), McCreadie, Forrest (x2), Crawford, McGuffie and Donald rounded off a worthwhile trip for The Honest Men and put a smile back on the faces of the travelling support.
It took Ayr no longer than 14 minutes to get up and running with trialist Thomas opening the scoring. Waite chipped in a ball from the left to McGuffie whose cross into the box was met by the head of Thomas and the ball flew into the top corner for 1 – 0.
Surprisingly it wasn’t until the second half when Ayr got their second of the game through McCreadie in the 60th minute. The young midfielder picked up the ball on the edge of the box and his drive looked to be comfortable for the keeper but somehow he fumbled the ball into his own net to gift Ayr a second goal.
After that Ayr never seemed to look back and quickly made it 3 on the 62nd minute through a penalty from Thomas. Dickenson fouled Johnston in the box and Thomas tucked away the penalty for his 2nd of the game.
3 minutes later and it was 4-0, this time through the promising youngster McGuffie. The youngster picked the ball out of the sky perfectly, dropped the ball dead with his foot, then turned swiftly sending two defenders the wrong way before firing in the bottom corner to increase Ayr’s lead.
Substitute Forrest was next to get in on the act and got on the score-sheet. Was 71 minutes gone a Gretna defender seemed content to shepherd the ball out of play for a goal kick but hadn’t reckoned on the United man’s tenacity. Forrest claimed the ball then ran along the line towards the goal before slamming the ball in between the keeper and his near post in a move somewhat reminiscent to his first United goal against Queens Park at Hampden in 2013. 5-0 United.
With 79 minutes on the clock it was 6-0 with Donald scoring. Forrest again broke into the box but his shot was well saved by Murray in the Gretna goal but the ball fell to Donald who was there to poke home from 5 yards to increase Ayr’s already convincing lead.
Two further goals from Crawford, after a great run through the Gretna defence, in the 82nd minute and a tap in by Forrest 90th minute compounded Gretna’s misery as Ayr claimed third spot in style.
Ayr now begin the new competitive season at home to Premiership side Hamilton in the Betfred League Cup group stages on Saturday at Somerset Park.
Fleming, Waite, Thorburn, Docherty, Adams, Murphy, Johnston, Wardrope, Thomas (T), McGuffie, Donald. Substitutes Devlin, McCreadie, Forrest, Crawford, Ballantyne, Hart (GK).
Murray, Blaked, Wadge, Casey, Hunter, Hope, McCartney, Rudd, Mattinson, Grandison, Shiel. Substitutes Dickenson, Cox, Winter, Simpson, Studholm, Weir, Errington, Blake.