Ladbrokes Championship



by Calum Campbell

Pictures: David Martin, Fotopress,Dundee

BEFORE this match, much was being said about Dundee United’s resurgence under new gaffer Robbie Neilson and their expected sweeping aside of all challengers for the rest of the season, but on a cold Friday night at Tannadice Park they came up against an Ayr United team who dominated, harassed, defended and attacked like champions.

Dundee United just weren’t at the races and looked lacking in all departments, causing few problems for Ayr and unable to cope with the movement of the Ayr frontmen. Lawrence Shankland will grab all the headlines for his four-goal display but, in truth, every single Honest Man played out of his skin and the travelling support lived up to their reputation as Ayr’s 12th man, drowning out the admittedly mute home crowd.

Ayr could not have got off to a better start. With only two minutes on the clock, Danny Harvie played the ball into the box and Shankland sneaked between defenders to head home.

Home goalie Benjamin Siegrist appeared to overstretch in his attempt to block Shankland and had to receive treatment on the park, an injury that would force his substitution just eight minutes later, making way for Matej Rakovan

It took Dundee United 15 minutes to register a real attempt on Ross Doohan’s goal. A corner was floated into the box from the left and found Fraser Fyvie in space and with time, but the midfielder lashed out at the ball which rose well over the bar.

In 23 minutes Declan McDaid again tortured Watson and he drove into the box creating space for himself but Rakovan blocked his shot. The ball landed at the feet of Michael Moffat in the six-yard box but he lifted his shot over the top.

In 40 minutes,the dangerous McDaid beat Paul Watson to the line before sliding the ball into the middle to Shankland, in space just six yards out, and this time the back of the net bulged.

Ayr should have gone further ahead in 51 minutes had it not been for a superb sliding tackle by Watson on Shankland when the striker had been put clear in the box by Robbie Crawford.

Suddenly it was 3-0 and Moffat got himself on the scoresheet, and this was no less than the hard-working forward deserved. Andy Geggan lifted the ball into the penalty area and Moffat raced onto the ball, one-on-one with keeper Rakovan. Moffat composed himself before side-footing the ball past the keeper and into the net in 77 minutes.

However Ayr were not finished yet. A hesitant William Edjenguele let Moffat nip in between the defender and his keeper to challenge for a high ball six yards out. Trying to nullify the threat, Edjenguele barged Moffat into Rakovan and, with no hesitation, referee Don Robertson pointed to the spot. Up stepped Shankland who thrashed the spot kick at goal and watched as Rakovan got his hands to the ball, but there was so much power it still reached the back of the net.

If Ayr fans were in a Tayside wonderland, they were to reach a higher enlightened level with just two minutes left. Liam Smith played a long ball into the penalty area where Shankland made space for himself and controlled the ball on his thigh, before thumping home.