Friday 25 January 2019
Ladbrokes Championship
HT   1 - 0
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Ayr United v Dundee United | Team Lineups

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Ayr United v Dundee United | Match Report

Honest Man

Ross Docherty

Ayr went back to the top of the Championship (if only for 24 hrs after Ross County's victory over Alloa Athletic on Saturday) following a 1-0 win at home against Dundee United on Friday night. Under the floodlights, and with BT Sport in attendance for this ‘Burns Night’ clash, this was the chance for the Honest Men to prove their mettle and put recent disappointments behind them.

‘Janwar’s blast’ was well in evidence and, with accompanying persistent rain, the conditions were not conducive to the best of football but United produced the kind of performance that brings back belief and proves that there are no timorous beasties in this side.

Ayr set their 'best laid plan' into action from the off. Docherty recovered the ball at the halfway line before bending it wide to McDaid, playing on his preferred left-hand side. McDaid took the ball past two defenders and down to the line before playing it invitingly into the 6-yard box but keeper Siegrist got down first collect easily with Murdoch ready to pounce at the back post. A warning had been given that Ayr meant business.

The home fans didn't have long to wait for the opener. With a mere 3 mins on the clock, it was Dundee United's plans that went awry as the home side opened the scoring.

Moffat maintained the ball well at the halfway line under pressure from Fyvie, Bouhenna, and Gomis before playing a reverse to McDaid on the left. The winger evaded the chasing Stanton then lifted the ball to the back post where it found Murdoch who nodded it down into the path of Moore, prowling at the edge of the six-yard box. The striker blasted the ball past Siegrist and into the net. 1-0 Ayr and the Somerset Road End turned up the volume.

Dundee United immediately tried to get back on level terms. Seaman played a long ball into the Ayr box where Safranko collected in front of goal. Lining up to take a shot, he was neatly dispossessed by Steven Bell and Ayr cleared to safety.

Ayr were clearly in no mood to be the perfect hosts and chased and harried the visitors relentlessly, giving them no time on the ball and little chance to make any headway towards the Ayr goal.

Craig Moore was in ebullient mood causing all sorts of problems for the Dundee United defence and Bouhenna was skating on thin ice when he hauled the hitman down after the striker’s clever turn just outside the box had left him flummoxed. Boehenna’s relief was palpable and the Somerset Road End bayed in disbelief as Referee Don Robertson waved play on. Foul or not, it was just another sign that the Arabs were feeling the pressure.

There was no doubt about the booking for Ayr’s Smith just before the break as he slid with force into Dundee United’s wide man Paul McMullan and bringing him crashing to the ground.
Just after the re-start, Gomis was next into the referees’ book when midfielder tugged Moffat back right on the halfway line. Gomis’ action seemed impulsive, blatant, and totally unnecessary and it was a card that was going to come back to haunt the midfielder in the latter stages of the game.

Ayr continued to press hard with multiple chances at goal, Docherty, Murdoch, Moffat, and Harvie going close, so it was no surprise when ‘Arabs’ manager Robbie Neilson turned to his bench for inspiration. On the hour mark, he played his cards and made a double substitution, pulling Stanton and Fyvie from the field and sending on Clark and Harkes to add some firepower up front.

The biggest cheer of the night came on 67 mins when Ian McCall made his only change of the night. Moore’s night was over, and, for his efforts, he received a well-deserved ovation leaving the field. The sound was magnified ten-fold as top goal scorer Shankland trotted on for his first run-out in three weeks after injury. Ayr were 1-0 up, Shankland was back, the fans were believing, and the Somerset Road End volume went back to 11.

On 68 mins, Dundee United had a good chance at getting a goal back. Safranko broke into the penalty area but his attempted shot was blocked by Doohan who, alert to the danger, had come storming off his line to close the attacker down.

On 82 mins, Dundee United made one last throw of the dice to try and grab something from the game. Nesbitt replaced the tiring Safranko and the attacking midfielder almost got onto the score list within seconds of his introduction. McMullan lifted a hanging ball from the right to the back of the box where Nesbitt did well to drop it out of the air before taking a shot from some 8 yards out but Doohan dived to save at his near post, beating the ball away. It was an excellent piece of goalkeeping from the United keeper thwarting Dundee United’s best chance of the night.

The final sting in the tail to a lacklustre Dundee United performance came in the dying moments of the match. With Shankland moving Crossfield near the halfway line Gomis first pulled Shankland back then tripped his ankles bringing him to the ground. Referee Don Robertson had no hesitation in reaching to his pocket and pulling out, first the yellow card, followed seconds later by a red for the second offence. A disappointing and unsatisfactory end to a night to forget for Dundee United, but one that Ayr fans will long remember.

 

Ayr United v Dundee United | Match Timeline

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Ayr United v Dundee United | Match Stats

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Ayr United v Dundee United | Media

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

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