Ladbrokes League One



by Sunny Wyrich, Sarah Peddie and Calum Campbell

Pictures: David Sargent

DOMINANT Ayr closed the gap on Raith at the top of the table to six points with a game in hand after comfortably beating East Fife at Somerset Park.

Declan McDaid fired the Honest Men into the lead in 32 minutes with Lawrence Shankland and an Alan Forrest penalty adding to the scoreline in the second half.

Ian McCall was delighted with his team’s efforts, especially in their second half performance, praising Declan McDaid and Lawrence Shankland up front, but also highlighting their determination to keep a clean sheet. The manager had moved Stevie Bell from midfield and into a defensive position and felt this worked out well.

East Fife had arrived without their troubles to seek. A growing injury list, to rival that of United’s over recent weeks, allowed them to name only three outfield players on their bench, but they still set up to stifle Ayr with a high work rate and catch the home side out with quick attacking breaks.

The opening 10 minutes was disappointing, with both teams failing to get a grip on the game or come to terms with the soft and bobbly surface. There was a lack of control, with passes going astray from both sides, possession being handed over, and moves breaking down with regularity.

Ayr then gained momentum, creating multiple chances but it took 32 minutes before they finally got the ball in the net. East Fife failed to fully clear a corner and Mark Kerr slipped the ball to his right to Declan McDaid who cut inside the box and released a stinging drive which swerved into the net with the slightest of deflections off defender Dunsmore’s hip. Cue a novel celebration, with the winger placing his hand over his eye and smiling toward the eye-patched Ian McCall sitting in the directors’ box as he recovers from surgery to repair a detached retina.

Ayr intensified their efforts in the second half and Lawrence Shankland grabbed the second in 53 minutes. A sublime solo effort saw the striker turn goalwards 25 yards out, go past three and into the box, before rounding keeper Goodfellow and thumping the ball home.

Six minutes later, McDaid, sprinting into the box to receive a return pass from Shankland, was blocked and flattened by central defender Jonathan Page with a penalty awarded to the home side. Ayr. Just minutes after coming onto the park, substitute Alan Forrest stepped up to the spot and casually sent the keeper the wrong way to make it 3-0 and take United’s goal tally for the season to 99.

East Fife threw players forward, but it was testimony to the hard work of the United defence that it took the Fifers 69 minutes to get their first attempt on target when striker Chris Duggan’s downward header from a Kevin Smith cross was saved at full stretch by Ayr keeper, Jack Ruddy.

In the last 10 minutes, United went all out to try and reach that 100-goal tally with Forrest, McDaid, Shankland, Adams and Moore all going close, but that century strike just didn’t materialise.

Ayr are visited by Airdrieonians on Saturday with the Honest Men looking to get revenge for their 2-0 away defeat in December and to rack up that 100th goal.


Lawrence Shankland 3

Jamie Adams 2

Declan McDaid 1.