Ladbrokes Championship



by Sunny Wyrich and Calum Campbell

FORM team United extended their winning run with a 1-0 Championship victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Saturday.

A strike from Stephen Kelly in the second half guaranteed the Honest Men the maximum three points at Somerset Park.

Inverness created the better chances in the early stages with both Jordan White and Miles Storey calling Ross Doohan into action. However, United controlled the majority of play and were soon causing problems for their opponents, striker Aaron Drinan going close after a lay-off following a mazy run to the line by Kelly.

In 20 minuted, outstanding defending denied Ayr an opener, Inverness defenders throwing their bodies in front of the ball as United smashed in three shots in succession. First Drinan controlled the ball under pressure in the box and head flicked it to  Kelly, whose shot was blocked by the outstretched knee of defender McKay. Next, Ross Docherty picked up the rebound only to have his effort blocked by McHattie, the ball ending up with Alan Forrest whose attempt was finally saved by Caley keeper Mark Ridgers.

The next chance came only teo minute's later when player-boss Mark Kerr picked out Drinan who knocked the ball back to Forrest for a shot from the edge of the box, but again Ridgers did well to save.

Next up for Ayr, a Kelly corner from the left was headed on by Moffat from the front edge of the 6-yard box only to come back off the bar with the Inverness keeper and defence well beaten.

Ayr continued to dominate, but in 42 minutes, Caley Thistle looked to have stolen the lead when a long looping free-kick into the box from James Keating floated straight into the net as striker Jordan White jumped with 'keeper Doohan. To United’s relief, referee Greg Aitken disallowed the goal correctly adjudging that White had barged the keeper. 

United started the second half with a great chance in 46 minutes when Daniel Harvie slammed the ball across the face of goal into the path of Drinan, but Kevin McHattie slid in at the last moment to clear, preventing what looked like a certain goal.

United continued to press and Aaron Muirhead was denied twice within seconds. As a corner came in from the left, the defender drove the ball goalwards only for McHattie to block on the line, then his second attempt was blocked by Vincent, again on the line.

Caley had an equally strong restart and almost found the back of the net on 51 mins. A corner from Keatings was met by Charlie Trafford, but his header clattered off the crossbar. Ayr responded with a drive from the edge of the box from Harvie that was saved by Mark Ridgers.

With attacking intent from both sides, the game was crying for a goal and Ayr finally broke the deadlock in 61 minutes with Inverness being the architects of their own downfall.

 Ridgers played a short pass to McHattie in the box. McHattie then stroked the ball to Trafford, but caught the midfielder cold, and his weak touch allowed Kelly to nip in drive forward and slot the ball past the Ridgers. Cue celebrations with the United faithful in the Railway End.

United looked confident and not even Inverness' attacking substitutions, with David Carson, Tom Walsh and Nikolay Todorov coming on, troubled the Honest Men.

Casey got a late chance to equalise in the fourth minute of added time when White connected with a Walsh cross inside the box, but Jordan Houston cleared the effort off the line and secured Ayr's first victory over Inverness in the league since 2003.

United closed the gap with second-place Inverness in the League table to just one point and sit five ahead of Dundee.

Next up, Ayr travel to Firhill on Friday night as they face Partick Thistle in the Championship

AYR UNITED: Doohan; Muirhead, Harvie, Kerr, Moffat, Forrest, Houston, Bell, Drinan, Docherty, Kelly Subs:  Hare-Reid (GK), Roscoe, Doolan, McCowan, McGuffie, Hewitt, McKenzie.


Ridgers; Tremarco, McHattie, McKay, Rooney, Vincent, Trafford, Doran, Keatings, Storey, White. Subs: MacKay (GK), McCart, WalshToshney, Todorov, Carson, WelsH.

Referee: Greg Aitken

Attendance: 1602