Stenhousemuir 1 v 1 Ayr United
Both of these teams were under no illusion of how important a win could be with only two points separating the sides going into this bottom of the table clash. The form guides didn’t auger well either with Ayr still looking for a win after 12 attempts and Stenhousemuir unable to win at home in their last four games.
This poor form was obviously at the forefront in the minds of both managers with new signings being added to the respective squads this week. Ian McCall welcomed new signing Adam Blakeman to Somerset Park earlier in the week while Stenhousemuir’s Scott Booth made two signings late on Friday as Craig Sutherland and Paul McMullen joined the Ochilview side.
It was Stenhousemuir who had started the brighter and in the opening stages had the bulk of possession but failed to create any meaningful chances against a comfortable looking Ayr defence.
That was to change in 19mins however as a lapse of concentration from United allowed Paul McMullan to score from close range, after a misunderstanding in the Ayr defence, allowed him to latch on to a loose pass and open the scoring.
The loss of the early goal had a positive effect on United as they immediately went looking for an equaliser which they should have had in 22mins. A neat give and go between Forrest and Blakeman saw Forrest through on goal but from just 12 yards out he blasted over the bar.
Ayr were looking the stronger side by the half hour mark as they searched for an equaliser and that came in spectacular fashion in 32mins. Ayr were pressing down the left hand side with Forrest and Donald before the youngster decided not to play the obvious pass. Instead he cut inside and unleashed a wonder strike from fully 25 yards that left the Stenny keeper Fleming grasping at thin air and put Ayr level at 1-1.
Stenhousemuir tried to gain more control of possession after losing the equaliser and they caused some problems, making use of Paul McMullan and Joshua Watt’s pace, but no further clear cut chances were created as the sides went in at half time all square.
United started the second half in a positive mood winning a corner in the first 50 seconds of the restart. They then made a tactical change up front replacing Ryan Donnelly with Craig Beattie to provide a more physical presence in attack.
This change of tactic provided United with more possession as the Stenhousemuir defence kept a wary eye on the experienced Beattie and the goal threat of Forrest.
Unfortunately for Ayr they were unable to convert all this possession into chances and appeared to lack a significant cutting edge going forward. Brian Gilmour did go close to breaking the deadlock with a curling free kick in 69mins but his effort curled just the wrong side of the post.
With 10mins left to play substitute Scott McLaughlin ended a good move with a drive from the edge of the box but his shot was too straight and was comfortably held by Stenny keeper Fleming.
In the end a point each was probably a fair reflection on the number of chances created by both sides but United and Ian McCall both know that they need to turn possession into chances and goals to give themselves an opportunity of moving clear of the relegation drop zone.
Hutton; Devlin; Gilmour; Neill; Murray; Crawford; McGovern; Blakeman; Donald; Forrest; Donnelly
Substitutes: McLaughlin; Slane; Beattie; McCracken; Nisbet; Shirkie; Newman (GK)
Fleming; McCormack (Trialist); Lithgow; McMillan; Summers; Millar; McMullan; Hodge; McMenamin; Sutherland; Watt Substitutes: Meechan; Faulds; Fiortheringham; Gallacher; Eddington; Grehan; Smith (GK)
Attendance – 651
Match Report: David Kennedy (AUmedia)