Ladbrokes League One



By Stewart McConnell

STRIKING sensation Lawrence Shankland notched his fifth goal in four games as resurgent United chalked up a second straight win.

Victory helped them close the gap on leaders Raith Rovers following their surprise defeat away to Albion Rovers.

This was in truth a stroll in the sunshine for Ayr, who totally dominated the match and could have won by at least five goals had they taken some of their other chances.

Defender Craig Reid needed treatment after taking a knock in the opening minute but carried on before breaking down five minutes later and being replaced by David Ferguson.

In four minutes the hosts came close when an 18-yard drive from Lawrence Shankland was beaten out by Mark Hurst.

Then in seven minutes the Honest Men took the lead when a Michael Rose header was saved by Hurst but goal predator Shankland lashed home the rebound from six yards.

Robbie Crawford saw his 16-yard effort deflected wide by Hurst two minutes later.

The home side scorned another opportunity in 16 minutes when Shankland shot across the face of goal from 16 yards.

Then a Brian Gilmour corner broke to skipper Ross Docherty who shot wildly over the bar from 12 yards in 19 minutes. Then two minutes later at the other end Pat Slattery shot over the bar from 25 yards as East FIFE came more into the game.

A Gilmour free-kick was punched clear by Hurst in 23 minutes. Two minutes later Jordan Hart came out to save at the feet of Chris Duggan.

AYR had a good opportunity in 28 minutes when Hurst saved a Declan McDaid effort from the edge of the box.

United came so close in 33 minutes when a Rose header following a well-directed McDaid free-kick crashed off the crossbar.

The hosts should have scored again when a Shankland effort from eight yards was stopped by Hurst in 36 minutes.

United missed a great chance when Chris Kane lost possession to Shankland who looked certain to score with Hart out of his goal but he hit the side netting from six yards two minutes later.

Hurst then made another stunning save to keep out an Andy Geggan header from just inside the box in 40 minutes. Two minutes later Shankland was booked for diving after taking a tumble inside the box.

Michael Moffat had an effort blocked on the edge of the box by Kane in 49 minutes.

However a minute later the hosts deservedly doubled their advantage when Shankland cut the ball back to Geggan who hammered it home from 14 yards.

East Fife were reduced to 10 men on the hour when skipper Jonathan Page was harshly was sent off for a high challenge on McDaid. There was no malice in the tackle and a booking would have sufficed.

Moffat saw his shot blocked by the goalie in 72 minutes but a minute later it was 3-0 when a corner-kick was bundled over the line by Chris Higgins, although it took a slight deflection off a defender on its way into the net.

United were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box in 86 minutes and McGuffie played it to Paddy Boyle but the defence blocked the danger.

Shankland, whose skills in scoring and holding the ball up so brilliantly evoke memories of the great Andy Walker, surged to the edge of the box in 87 minutes but had his effort blocked by a defender.

McGuffie's 12-yard effort was clutched by Hurst in 89 minutes as Ayr easily saw out the game.