Ladbrokes Championship



by Iain Martin and Calum Campbell

A DISAPPOINTING performance at Somerset Park saw United slip five points behind Ross County at the top of the league. Manager Ian McCall described this as a ‘poor, poor performance’ and said: “We didn’t deserve to lose it, but we didn’t do enough to win it.”

Ayr made two changes from the side that started at Greenock, with Steven Bell taking the captain’s armband from Ross Docherty and Nicky Cadden replacing Declan McDaid.

Ayr’s first chance came in three minutes. On the counter-attack, Michael Moffat found Liam Smith with a crossfield pass and the United right-back played the ball to Crawford in the box and he found Shankland, but the striker lifted his shot over the bar. Dunfermline had started at a high tempo and had the higher percentage of possession for the opening 15 to 20 minutes, but Ayr drew themselves into the game. Dominance swung their way and Dunfermline sat deep to prevent United from converting possession into goals.

Neither team created any notable chances with both backlines appearing comfortable. This said, Dunfermline would have been been happier at half-time. Dunfermline altered their tactics in the second half, their midfield diamond sacrificed for a straight four across the middle to prevent Ayr using their wingers and wing backs with the success they had in the first half. This altered the flow. If the first half had been a leaden affair, then the second was to turn out worse. Although Ayr’s managed a few forays into the Pars’ box, these didn’t result in any real chances.

It appeared neither side had the potential to provide the one spark of genius or luck that would break the deadlock. But then misfortune struck. Williamson charged down the right to the line and Michael Rose slid in to block his powerful cutback into the box, but the ball slammed off his raised arm. Referee David Munro immediately pointed to the spot. Up stepped Jackson Longridge to drill the spot kick into the net sending Doohan the wrong way in 70 minutes. Ayr faced an uphill struggle but although they pressed higher and harder up the park, the Pars’ defence remained resolute for the remaining 20 minutes. Starman: Ross Doohan 3, Andy Murdoch 2, Liam Smith 1.

AYR UNITED: Doohan, Harvie, Rose, Moffat, Crawford, Bell, Shankland, Murdoch, Smith, Cadden, Muirhead. Subs: Hare-Reid (GK), Higgins, Kerr, McDaid, Adams, Docherty, Miller.