Stranraer match preview

Match Preview
Ayr United vs. Stranraer
Betfred Cup Group F
Saturday 14th November 2020. Kick-off 3pm

On Saturday, the Honest Men go head-to-head with familiar foes Stranraer at Somerset Park with a place in the last 16 of the Betfred Cup at stake.

A shock win at a rain lashed Stair Park on Wednesday night for League 2 Stranraer over Premiership strugglers Hamilton Accies sets up a winner takes all clash in Group F. Both clubs have six points from their three matches in the competition and the winner will overtake current section leaders Annan, who have completed all four of their fixtures.

Since the group stages were introduced for season 2016/17, we have only failed to progress to the last 16 once – Stranraer’s penalty shootout win at Somerset denying Ian McCall’s side progression last season. Mark Kerr will be looking to avoid a repeat in what is sure to be a
tough encounter for the Honest Men.

Opposition : Along with Heart of Midlothian and Partick Thistle, Stranraer were the third casualties of the premature cessation to league football in March and were relegated to League 2 this summer. The Blues were demoted with a record of 0.59 points per game after
27 matches, eight points behind ninth placed Forfar Athletic. Stevie Farrell’s side were on a run of 14 matches without a win when the season ended.

Stranraer’s 2020/21 campaign started with back-to-back draws against fellow League 2 sides in the Betfred Cup. They took the bonus point after a 1-1 draw at Galabank against Annan, Ruari Paton on the scoresheet, but it was Albion Rovers who won an epic shootout at Stair Park three days later. Defender Aryton Sonkur and Paton again scored in a 2-2 draw against the Wee Rovers, setting up a penalty that the visitors edged 15-14. They have started life in League 2 with four points from their four games, winning 2-0 last time out at
home to Cowdenbeath before humbling Hamilton Accies on Wednesday.

United will come up against former goalkeeper Greg Fleming, who joined the Blues in the summer replacing Max Currie between the sticks following his move to Airdrie. Experienced striker Darryl Duffy netted the winner on Wednesday night, with fellow new signings Ruari
Paton, Tom Orr and Joao Victoria also contributing in forward areas. Familiar faces Scott Robertson, Grant Gallagher and Andy Stirling also remain on Stevie Farrell’s roster.

Team News : Aaron Muirhead is suspended. Paddy Reading is on international duty. Innes Cameron and Cammy Smith are cup tied.

Mark says :”It is a good opportunity for us. We would all have taken having to win our final game at Somerset to qualify for the next stage and now the equation is simple for both teams. Win and qualify. We have played Stranraer at this stage a couple of times recently so we know they will be up for it and it will be a tough game. After the last couple of games we are now looking to build momentum and go on a winning run and we have been looking forward to the game all week. With a few players out there is opportunities for others and they need to come in and impress.”

Head to head (at Somerset Park) :
Ayr United wins – 31
Draws – 7
Stranraer wins – 10

The Blues have departed Somerset Park victories in their last two visits. In April 2018, a 85th minute Scott Agnew penalty put a serious dent in the Honest Men’s League 1 title aspirations, earning Stranraer a 2-1 win in a match which saw Lawrence Shankland sent-off
in the first-half after Jamie Adams cancelled out Grant Anderson’s opener.

Previous Meeting :
More recently, the two sides met in the final group match in last season’s Betfred Cup, in July 2019. With United needing a win to confirm progression to the next round of the competition as one of the four best runners-up, the Honest Men were held to a 2-2 draw by their League 1 opponents who went on to take the bonus point in a penalty-shoot out after Daniel Harvie missed United’s sixth kick. Adam Cummins netted twice for the Blues after Michael Moffat and Stephen Kelly had twice put Ayr ahead during the 90 minutes.

On this day : In 2017, United defeated title rivals Raith Rovers 3-0 at Somerset Park thanks to goals from Lawrence Shankland, Robbie Crawford and Craig Moore.

Match Officials :
Referee – Barry Cook
Assistant Referee 1 – Craig Ferguson
Assistant Referee 2 – Michael Addy

Streaming:
Supporters of both sides can purchase a PPV Pass to watch this game for £10 by visiting https://ayrunitedmedia.co.uk/live-streaming . A reminder that season ticket holders QR codes are not valid for this game.