By AU Media

Ayr United Reserves travelled to the Reigart Stadium in Coatbridge to take on Albion Rovers in their first match in defence of the Reserve Challenge Cup which they won last season.

It took Albion Rovers only 6 mins to take the lead, the opener coming when McDonald cut in behind the Ayr defence and fired a right-footed shot into the bottom left corner.

Ayr reacted well after the goal and created a number of chances with an Ecrepont cross being tipped onto the bar and cleared, a Miller shot being by saved by Rovers’ keeper Potts, a Murphy header also being saved, and a shot, again from Murphy, going wide of the right-hand post from 16 yards out.

Ayr were forced to make their first substitution of the game 25 mins in after midfielder Miller suffered a head injury: he was replaced by Heaney.

Ayr had a few more chances before half time with McKenzie coming closest to scoring. Albion Rovers left-back Smith received a yellow for a late tackle on Thorburn. After 45 mins the teams went in with the score still standing at 1-0 in favour of the home side.

Within 9 mins of the restart, Ayr Reserves equalised after Connor received the ball at the edge of the box, cut past the Albion defence and fired the ball into the open net.

Both teams made a few changes with Albion replacing Trialist No 7 and Trialist No 11 with Guy and Fell and Ayr replacing Connor with McKee.

5 mins before the final whistle Potts came out of his net to receive the ball but failed to do so. With Ayr players taking turns to shoot they were denied by saves from Potts and blocks by the Albion defence. And so, the score remained at 1 – 1.

The ref showed several yellow cards in the last 10 mins of the game, Ecrepont being booked for challenging the Albion keeper, Albion’s McDonald for a late tackle on Thorburn, and United’s Richardson for a similar offence.

The score after 90 mins remained at 1-1 and under cup rules, the match went straight to penalties to decide who would gain the bonus point.

Ayr and Albion both scored their first 4 penalties with McKenzie, Murphy, Heaney, and Ecrepont the scorers for Ayr, and Smith, Fee, Trialist No 8, and McDonald for Albion.

Love took Ayr’s 5th penalty but it was saved by Potts. Gordon then stepped up to take Albion’s 5th penalty, knowing that if he scored his team would win the bonus point.  As the United team held their breath, United Keeper Ellis Hare-Reid came to the rescue, pulling off a save that took the shoot-out into sudden death.

Both teams scored 5 sudden death penalties each, with McKee, Smith, Baird, Richardson, and Thorburn being the scorers for Ayr, and Guy, Fell, Moran, Trialist No 5, and Doran being the scorers for Albion.

With all 10 outfield players having taken a penalty it was now time for the goalkeepers to step up to the spot. First, Hare-Reid’s penalty was saved by Potts then both keepers switched places. Potts had the chance to win the bonus point for Albion but again Hare-Reid saved.

McKenzie (Ayr), Smith (Albion) and Murphy (Ayr) all scored from their second penalties of the shootout. Then Albion’s Fee placed the ball on the spot for his second penalty to try and pull level.  Fee’s attempt was well saved by Hare-Reid giving Ayr the bonus point with an 11-10 win on penalties.