Tuesday 29 January 2019
Ladbrokes Championship
HT   0 - 3
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Ayr United v Inverness Caledonian Thistle | Team Lineups

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Ayr United v Inverness Caledonian Thistle | Match Report

Honest Man

Declan McDaid

Ayr United remain in second place in the Championship following a 2-3 defeat at the hands of Inverness Caledonian Thistle. The damage was done in the first 20 minutes of the game with the visitors racing to a 0-3 advantage and despite a spirited fightback in the second half, Ayr were unable to claw back the deficit.

United very nearly went behind within the first 30 seconds of the game as straight from the kick-off. Ayr’s Michael Rose stopped a Shaun Rooney ball played in behind the United defence and elected to pass it back to Doohan not noticing the proximity of the onrushing Ross Oakley.  Fortunately for Ayr, Doohan responded well and was able to clear his lines, but the early warning had been posted.

Ayr did retaliate quickly. A clearance from the back by Steven Bell eventually found its way to McDaid on the left. McDaid’s cross from the goal line was met by Robbie Crawford, but his shot was parried away for a corner by ICT’s keeper MacKay.

Ayr continued to press and for the first 5 mins ICT barely had a touch of the ball with United driving forward in numbers, constantly putting the ICT goalkeeper to the test. There was no suggestion of the calamitous 12 mins to come.

The first sign the evening was not going to end well for Ayr came in 8 mins.  Liam Polworth picked up the ball in midfield and then slid the ball through to Nathan Austin in the Ayr penalty box.  Michael Rose did well to slide in and block the ball but fortunately for Austin, it bounced off his knee and back into his pass allowing him to side-foot the ball into the net. 0-1 Inverness.

More misery was heaped on the Ayr side 4 mins later when ICT doubled their lead. With Ayr comfortably on the ball, Steven Bell slid as he attempted a cross-field pass allowing Austin to intercept then knock down to Oakley. Oakley then threaded the ball back to Austin who had continued his run into the box. Austin took the ball around Doohan before turning it into the net with United player’s claiming offside. 0-2 Inverness and the Ayr fans were now desperately praying for the threatening snow to fall in feet rather than flakes to force abandonment.

On the 16 min mark, ICT launched the ball into the Ayr half where Austin knocked on, Rose being nudged failed to clear, and the ball landed in front of Polworth. From 22 yards out, the midfielder then drilled the ball hard past Doohan and in at his right-hand post. 0-3 Inverness and Ayr had a mountain to climb.

Despite this, the heads of the Ayr players did not drop, and they continued to press upfield seeking something from this game. On 22 mins, Ayr came close to pulling one back when McDaid whipped in a corner from the right which was met by Michael Rose leaping high above the ICT defence, but his powerful header hit the post and rolled across the face of goal before being booted clear by Joe Chalmers.

Inverness continued to defend rigidly for the remainder of the half, with Ayr forced to work hard but for no reward. At halftime, the teams went in with the score still standing at 0-3 for the visitors.

Manager McCall turned to the bench for the start of the second half replacing Craig Moore with Chris Higgins while bringing on Lawrence Shankland for Ross Docherty.  Shankland immediately made his presence felt.

With 8 mins of the second half gone, a long clearance by Crawford reached the ICT box where McCart seemed unsettled by Shankland’s presence and miskicked his attempted pass back to MacKay. Shankland nipped round the side and collected the ball, took it to the goal line before laying it back into the centre where McDaid steered the ball into the net from 6 yards out. Ayr had pulled on back.

Shortly after, Ayr were denied what appeared to be a stick-on penalty. Carl Tremarco seemed to misjudge the flight of an in-swinging ball into the box from McDaid and use his arm to knock it away from the path of Shankland who would have been through one-on-one on goal. With Ayr players and the Somerset Road End exploding with the cries of ‘penalty’ referee Nick Walsh waved away protests and allowed play to carry on.

United continued to pile on the pressure and, with 5 mins left on the clock, it was Shankland again who was to set up a grandstand finish.

Aaron Muirhead, marking his debut as a substitute was tripped by Trafford some 22 yards out. Shankland had no hesitation in stepping up to take the freekick. The striker’s pile driver smashed through the wall and into the net. 2 – 3 and game on.

Ayr thought they had pulled the iron from the fire in the last action of the game. With mere seconds left on the clock, Daniel Harvie flicked a delightful cross into the box from the left and towards Muirhead 2 yards out.  It looked a certainty. Reporter’s pens were lifted in anticipation but just before it reached the Muirhead, Tremarco managed to get the slightest of touches changing its trajectory enough that the Ayr man could only contact the bottom of the ball and send it over the bar.

And with that the game was over, Inverness Caledonian Thistle running out 3 – 2 winners.

Ayr are next in action on Saturday when they travel to Clackmannanshire to take on Alloa Athletic.

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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