Saturday 06 April 2019
Ladbrokes Championship
HT   0 - 0
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Ayr United v Inverness Caledonian Thistle | Team Lineups

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Ayr United v Inverness Caledonian Thistle | Match Report

The Scottish Cup semi-final for Inverness Caledonian Thistle may not be until next week, but they will feel as if they have already played in one as they ran out 0-1 winners in a pulsating end-to-end game at Somerset Park on Saturday.

United boss Ian McCall made three changes from the team that started against Greenock Morton as Nicky Cadden, Calvin Miller and Ross Docherty got the nod to run out with the team. This was the biggest game of the season so far for both teams. Ayr were looking for the win to move four points clear of Caley Thistle and they in turn were looking for the win to go above United and in to third spot in the table.

Ayr got the game underway, shooting towards the Railway End with Cadden and Miller fulfilling the roles of the two wingers, and they were to be instrumental in causing Inverness problems all afternoon.  It was obvious from the first whistle that both teams were more than up for this contest.

Ayr were in on goal in the 4th minute of the game as a beautifully lofted pass from Daniel Harvie just inside the Inverness half was collected by Calvin Miller on the penalty spot only to be denied the scoring opportunity by the far side assistant referees flag going up to signal offside.

Hearts were in mouths for the home fans minutes later as Inverness were awarded a penalty for a foul by keeper Doohan. The visitors, having sneaked the ball away from Miller got the ball to Liam Polworth on the center circle and he slid the ball through to Nathan Austin who was clear and in space in behind the United back line. Doohan had no hesitation in coming off his line to close down the attacker but his mistimed dive took out the player rather than the ball and referee Craig Thomson had no hesitation in pointing to the spot for the infringement. Doohan also picked up a yellow card and was perhaps lucky that the referee considered the penalty and yellow punishment enough. But zero was to turn to hero seconds later. A powerful spot kick taken by Aaron Doran sent the United keeper the wrong way, but a trailing foot connected with the ball and prevented the ball from going in to the net and the home fans breathed again.

Seconds later and Ayr were hammering on the door of the Inverness goal mouth but again were unable to get the breakthrough, but the speed and intensity of this game was keeping the 1566 fans inside Somerset Park on the edge of their seats.

United had their best chance of the match so far in the 15th minute when Shankland on the right wing slid a teasing ball across the face of the box to Cadden waiting on the far side and his left footed shot was fumbled by Ridgers in the Caley goal. Shankland had continued his run in to the box and looked to get on to the loose ball but was adjudged to have fouled Kevin Mchattie in his attempt and the chance was lost.

Both teams continued to play at pace as each looked to get the first goal, with Miller in particular getting plenty of time and space down the left wing and putting the Caley defence under pressure. Both goals were to remain unbreeched at the half time whistle and everybody inside Somerset Park was glad of the break to get their breath back and reset for the next instalment.

Whatever had been in the half-time cup of tea, it obviously worked as the second half started off at the same speed and intensity as the first half had ended.

United hearts were to be broken just after the hour mark as Inverness finally broke the deadlock and got the ball in to the back of the net. Ross Docherty gave away a free kick on Rooney, who bizarrely received a yellow card for protesting to the referee too much.  Joe Chalmers lofted the dead ball in to the heart of the Ayr box and with the defence at sixes and sevens it was left to Brad McKay to poke the ball past Doohan and in to the back of the net. 0-1 to the visitors.

The loss of the goal affected the home side more than the visitors as having given everything for the first 60 minutes they started to run out of steam and ideas. In an attempt to shore up the mid-field, Jamie Adams was introduced on the 67th minute with Andy Geggan, having put in a tremendous shift of work, leaving the fray. A double substitution ten minutes later saw the strike force of Moffat and McDaid coming on for Murdoch and Cadden.

The last action of the game came deep into injury time as Ayr won a free kick just outside the Caley box and Shankland drilled the ball in to the defensive wall and out for a corner. Allowing the corner to be taken, the ball came whipping in only to be cleared away from the danger zone, and having seen enough, the referee blew for full time with the visitors claiming all three points and moving two points clear of Ayr and in to third spot.

It had been an entertaining game with plenty of good football and skill on display and Ayr were unlucky not to have got something out the competition. Next up is Queen of the South on Tuesday night in the re-arranged fixture, surely another must win game for them if they are to remain in the top four and challenge for a promotion play-off.

 

Ayr United v Inverness Caledonian Thistle | Match Timeline

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Ayr United v Inverness Caledonian Thistle | Match Stats

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Ayr United v Inverness Caledonian Thistle | Media

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

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