Stranraer 1 v 5 Ayr United
Ayr started 2018 off with a bang as they tore Stranraer apart at Stair Park and helped to soothe the wounds of last weekend’s loss at home to Forfar.
It didn’t take Ayr long to get over the New Year blues, taking the lead in only the 7th min. United moved forward with some good interplay between Moffat, Shankland and McDaid, with McDaid then cutting inside before finding Jamie Adams in the box. Adams went one-on-one with Belford, but the keeper blocked his shot which spun up high and towards the back post where Shankland rose to nod in.
It had been a fairly open start to the game although United looked the more dangerous going forward and again Belford came to the home side’s rescue with a good save at his near post following a McDaid drive on 20mins.
Stranraer then began to grow in confidence and had their best spell of the match. On 22 mins experienced defender Jamie Hamill fired in a perfect cross from the right and could only watch in disbelief as his in-rushing forwards all failed to make contact. One minute later a Chris Higgins misdirected header looped up over keeper Hart and was somehow cleared off the goal line.
Stranraer may have felt unlucky not to have carved out an equaliser but United always looked likely to find their second, and that came on 38 mins. Shankland did well to slip the ball to Moffat on the right who smashed the ball off the far post and into the net, giving Belford no chance.
On 44 mins it could, and probably should, have been three for Ayr. McDaid, who had been creating havoc for the Stranraer defence, cut in from the left and tried a shot which was blocked and flew across the face of the goals to Moffat who contrived to hit the ball wide with an empty net beckoning.
Half time and a comfortable two goal lead for the Honest Men, but one they were determined to increase.
On 49 mins, Forrest intercepted a loose ball near the halfway line, beat one defender then charged forward into the penalty area before confidently firing past Belford to put Ayr three to the good.
Ayr looked unstoppable and when the fourth arrived 3 minutes later no one was surprised, but it came with a lot of help from the Stranraer back line. A long goal kick from Hart crossed the halfway line and Neill inexplicably ducked under it and the ball carried through to Shankland who made his way into the box, under pressure from Robertson, and slotted home.
Four became five in 62 mins when McDaid cut in from the right then slipped the ball left to Forrest who again found the back of the net.
This match, as a contest, was well and truly over but Stranraer kept pushing forward and finally managed a consolation counter in the 79th min. Substitute Cameron Elliot cut the ball across the box and found Stranraer’s stand-out midfielder, Kyle Turner, who knocked the ball past Hart from close range.
An impressive performance from United, giving their travelling faithful a great start to 2018.
Ayr’s next match is this Saturday when the visitors to Somerset Park will be Arbroath.
Hart, Ferguson, Reid, Higgins, Boyle, Rose, Adams, McDaid, Moffat, Shankland, Forrest. Substitutes: Avci (GK), Gilmour, Moore, McGuffie, Hilton, Faulds, McCowan.
Belford, Robertson, Neill, Woods, Bell, Anderson, McGowan, Turner, Beith, Hamill, Thomson. Substitutes: McLaren (GK), Agnew, Okoh, Elliot, Gray, Scott, McKinlay.
Referee: Grant Irvine