Saturday 02 December 2017
Scottish League One
HT   1 - 1
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Ayr United v Albion Rovers | Team Lineups

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Ayr United v Albion Rovers | Match Report

On a day when three intrepid Albion Rovers fans walked 56 miles from Coatbridge to Ayr for charity this should be a signal for locals to cast off any excuse not to attend matches at Somerset Park. Top of the league, attacking football, excitement, and even a good dose of nervous nail biting. Entertainment in bundles. The 1,426 who attended got it all and helped to create an atmosphere that brings back memories of ‘the great years’ and makes the term ‘12th man’ seem's time to join them.

A well organised Albion Rovers, utilising the pace of Connor Shields, Alan Trouten and Sean Higgins on the break-away were to form a stern test for United, already hamstrung with injuries to key players Robbie Crawford, Paddy Boyle and Andy Geggan.

Ayr comfortably weathered a series of early attacks from ‘The Wee Rovers’ before taking the lead in the 16 min.

Lawrence Shankland controlled a header forward on his chest before casually lifting the ball over the head of defender Ross Perry and into the path of Michael Moffat. Moffat raced into the penalty area and passed the ball between Scott McLaughlin and Alan Reid to Craig Moore, who slotted home with aplomb.

Ayr took control and moved forward in waves, dominating the midfield and carving out chance after chance.

Brian Gilmour’s corners were causing all kinds of problems for the Albion defence, but it was from open play that he almost put United two up. Shankland broke from the halfway line before bringing out a save from impressive young keeper Daniel Potts and then ended up at Gilmour’s feet some 40 yards out. The midfielder turned to create space then release a drive that went narrowly over.

In an unexpected turn of events Albion drew level on 24 mins and it came through a defensive error.

McLaughlin hit a long hopeful clearance into the United half and Chris Higgins moved to meet the ball. With Hart also coming out of his box, and with Albion winger Sean Higgins coming up to challenge, the United defender turned but the ball seemed to stick between his feet and his attempted clearance only moved a few yards away. Sean Higgins seized his chance, turned onto the ball before curling it over the stranded Hart and into the net from 20 yards out. An excellent piece of opportunism by the Albion man.

It almost went from bad to worse for Chris Higgins and United 5 mins later. Rose passed to Higgins and the tiniest of bobbles left the defender swinging his leg into thin air and falling to the ground as the ball made its way to Alan Trouten. With his head buried in the turf, Higgins missed the usually deadly Rovers man somehow blast the ball over the bar from only 18 yards out. Relief all round.

Ayr pushed forward again and again. On 31 mins Moffat’s tenacity won the ball in the penalty area but Potts got the finest of touches onto his shot and the ball rebounded off the post and was eventually cleared. Again, Albion used their speedy counter attack, breaking down the left, but after Shields took a diagonal run with the ball to the edge of the area on the right, his shot went well over the bar from 18 yards.

On 41 mins Craig Reid burst into the penalty area, getting on to a delicate chest on from Shankland. The big defender seemed to have his ankles thinly clipped just as he was ready to shoot but he didn’t go down, instead forcing a corner. From the corner on the right, the ball returned to Gilmour who turned it back to Ross Docherty and the United captain delivered back into the box and onto the head of Michael Rose. Rose’s header left the keeper flat-footed, but the ball hit off the post and Potts ran to collect.

Right on the stroke of halftime Ross Davidson played a quick one two at the edge of the box with Higgins before bringing out an excellent save from Hart in the United goals.

At the break United switched things about a bit with Craig McGuffie replacing Gilmour and Declan McDaid on for the injured Moore.

Albion were first to try their luck in the second half with Gary Fisher picking up a pass from McLaughlin at the halfway line before bringing out a save from Hart with a dipping drive from 25 yards.

Ayr again tried to turn their possession into goals with a McDaid header going close in 55 mins, a magnificent run by McGuffie ending with the ball going across the face of goal and wide in 60 mins, and then on 66 mins Moffat passed to Shankland in the box but again Potts came to Albion’s rescue, first with a block then clutching onto the loose ball. United’s attacking intent was reinforced when Alan Forrest replaced Docherty.

In the middle of the above Jordan Hart had once again pulled off a magnificent save from a point-blank header by Jason Marr after Davidson had whipped in a fast paced freekick.

Ayr did get the ball in the net on 69 mins when Moffat threaded the ball through to Shankland who beat Potts all ends up but was denied as the assistant’s flag was raised for offside.

It was backs to the wall time for Albion as Ayr turned up the heat and with 73 mins on the clock Shankland was again denied. Moffat played forward and Forrest beautifully cushioned the ball down to Shankland who played it behind the Albion backline to Forrest on the left. Forrest drove the ball across the front of the goal, Potts got down to deflect it away from McDaid and, as Shankland met the ball at the back post, it looked a certain goal. With everyone looking on in disbelief, former Ayr captain, Scott McLaughlin stretched out a leg and the ball cannoned clear off the line.

Still in the 73rd min United got the goal their play deserved. Rose sprayed a long diagonal pass to the right where McDaid charged forward and around the back of McLaughlin to the line, catching the ball when a greyhound might not have got close. McDaid then cut the ball back to the Shankland who slammed the ball home.

Ayr 2 – 1 up and hoping for some breathing space, but Albion had other ideas.

1 min later, a Reid throw-in was nodded on by Shields to Fisher who flicked inside. Substitute Victoria turned at the edge of the penalty area and passed the ball on to Shields who had continued his run down the right. Shields then cut the ball across the 6-yard line to Trouten who placed the ball into the net.

If Albion had shown a never-say-die attitude it was time for Ayr to do the same. Step up Chris Higgins.

Ayr kicked off and pushed forward. Shankland appeared to be impeded at the edge of the box but kept on his feet and clipped the ball to Forrest whose header from 6-yards out was headed off the line and out for a corner by substitute Daniel Lightbody.

Forrest played a quick one-two from the corner with McGuffie and then hit the ball into box with pace. Higgins, back to goal, head-flicked the ball past Potts and into the centre of the net.

4 mins, 3 goals and still more than 10 mins to go.

On 81 mins, Hart saved bravely at the feet of Victoria then Ayr broke forward at pace and Shankland’s drive from 22-yards was acrobatically turned away by Potts.

Ayr had territorial advantage, but Albion were determined to get one last chance and when awarded a corner with seconds to go there was a collective in-take of breath from the Somerset Park faithful, but they needn’t have been worried.

Next up on Saturday, United face Queens Park at home.

Ayr United v Albion Rovers | Match Timeline


Ayr United v Albion Rovers | Match Stats

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Ayr United v Albion Rovers | Media

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