Saturday 22 September 2018
Ladbrokes Championship
HT   0 - 1
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Alloa Athletic v Ayr United | Team Lineups

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Alloa Athletic v Ayr United | Match Report

Honest Man

Lawrence Shankland

Ayr went back to the top of the table following a two-goal victory over Alloa at the Indodrill Stadium on Saturday. It was, once again, United striker Lawrence Shankland who grabbed the headlines with a brace of goals in the bright Clackmannanshire sunshine, but this was a strong team performance overall.

At the beginning of the season Alloa narrowed the size of their pitch by 9 metres to assist in dealing with full-time opponents but, compared with their previous season's performances, the lack of width seemed to limit the Wasps attacking ability against the Honest Men.

There was not much between both sides in the opening encounters, but Ayr certainly did not show the uncertainty on an artificial surface as they had just 3 weeks previously at Dumfries, looking confident and purposeful on the ball.

Early attempts saw United's Lawrence Shankland take a shot from the edge of the box only to see the ball saved by Parry, while Alloa's Dario Zanatta headed wide after a well-worked free kick.

Alloa tried to put some pressure on the United backline but failed to make the most of their chances. On 9 mins, Alloa playmaker Iain Flannigan got on to the end of Andy Geggan's clearing header from the box but, under pressure from Andy Murdoch, his shot was hit well over the bar. 10 mins later and Kevin Cawley slipped the ball to the overlapping Jake Hastie just inside the box. Hastie seemed to lose all composure pulling the ball across the face of the goal with what looked like neither a shot or a pass, much to the frustration of Zanatta who couldn't make up enough ground at the back post.

On 23 mins United went close. Mark Kerr and Andy Murdoch played a one-two in the centre circle before Kerr pushed forward and released the ball to Shankland on his left. The striker teased defender Scott Taggart at the edge of the box before turning inside him and driving a dipping curling ball towards goal only to see the ball parried away by the keeper.

As Alloa tried to work the ball out of defence, Kerr intercepted, Geggan touched the ball to Alan Forrest and Ayr were driving towards goal once again. A pass inside found Robbie Crawford who slid the ball wide to Kerr. The midfielder lifted the ball into the penalty area and just as it dropped towards the ground, Shankland hit a sizzling right foot first-time volley past the stunned Parry and into the net. United were one up.

Ayr held the upper hand and, try as they might, Alloa couldn't find a way past the Ayr rear-guard to put any real pressure on Doohan's goals. Michael Rose and Steven Bell were outstanding in the centre of defence, with Liam Smith not only defending with certainty but providing United with a speedy attacking threat.

On 32 mins Ayr came close again. Smith drove forward from the edge of the United box and found Michael Moffat charging into the Alloa half. Moffat played Forrest into the box where he went outside centre-half Andy Graham and towards the line. Forrest attempted to flick the ball towards goal with the outside of his right foot, but keeper Parry instinctively stuck out his hand and knocked the ball away.

There followed a sustained period of pressure from Ayr with Alloa struggling to break from defence and create any meaningful attacks. Ayr were well on top but failed to add to their lead although Shankland went close on two occasions. On 40 mins the striker hit a left footed shot from the edge of the box that went wide and, right on the halftime whistle, a drive from left to right across the goalmouth.

At the break, Alloa replaced Alan Trouten with Connor Shields as the Wasps signalling the intent to take a more direct route towards goal. This certainly seemed to give Alloa a more threatening appearance, but their efforts were to be to no avail throughout the second 45 mins and Ayr were to have the livelier start.

On 50 mins, Geggan charged down the right and onto a through pass behind the Alloa defence from Moffat.  He then pulled the ball back to Shankland, on the penalty spot, with only a last-second block by Andy Graham denying the Ayr man his second counter.

1 min later, Ayr created another chance. A long looping freekick from Forrest on the right found Moffat unmarked at the back of the box. After judging the bounce Moffat smashed the ball powerfully with his right foot but, fortunately for Alloa, Parry was straight in line and saved.

Within 60 seconds, Ayr were knocking on the door again. Geggan, Moffat, and Shankland exchanged the ball on the right allowing Ayr to move into the Alloa penalty area. Shankland sent in a deep cross which Kerr collected before finding Forrest who slipped the ball through to Moffat. Moffat controlled, then set the ball up for Murdoch, but the midfielders drive from 20 yards went wide.

On 53 mins Alloa suddenly came alive. Forrest was dispossessed at the halfway line and the ball swiftly passed forward to Shields, who cut inside, but his drive from 18 yards was well saved by Doohan at the base of his right-hand post. This was a warning that the home side could still be dangerous on the break, but Ayr were still dominant.

With 65 mins on the clock, Ayr were two up. Murdoch, Forrest, and substitute McDaid worked the ball forward at pace, McDaid finally sliding the ball down the line to Murdoch. Murdoch clipped the ball to Shankland at the edge of the box and the striker moved into the right-hand side of the penalty box before blasting a low-level shot towards goal. Parry dived and got some contact, but the pace and power of the shot saw to it that the ball crossed the line. 0 – 2 Ayr.

Ayr maintained their control on the match despite a couple of late chances for Alloa with Doohan twice denying Shields, his second save an amazing one hand reaction denying the Alloa man from close range.

It finished 0 – 2 to Ayr, with United finding themselves back on top of the league.

Alloa Athletic v Ayr United | Match Timeline

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Alloa Athletic v Ayr United | Match Stats

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Alloa Athletic v Ayr United | Media

All Images are © David Sargent and Ayr United FC and may not be used without permission

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