Sun 11 Feb 2018
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Scottish Cup
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HT   1 - 1
Sun 11 Feb 2018
Scottish Cup
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After taking an early lead through Alan Forrest, Ayr United saw their Scottish Cup campaign end with a determined Rangers side netting six (five in the second half) at a snowy Somerset Park to march into the cup quarter finals.

Ayr were down to the bare bones of a squad with Steven Bell cup tied and Robbie Crawford, Ross Docherty, Mark Kerr and Chris Higgins all out injured. Added to this, Paddy Boyle and Andy Geggan only just made selection with both having only limited training after injury. The omens didn’t look good for the Honest Men but their performance, especially in the first half, matched their Premiership opponents and only dipped as the game entered the final 15 or so mins.

As the game got underway, Rangers slowly worked the ball around trying to impose themselves on the United team and maintain possession.   Ayr had other ideas, working hard to disrupt their opponent’s fluidity and causing some nervousness in Premierships clubs back line. This nervousness in turn played its part in the opening goal, and against all the odds it was Ayr who went in front.

With 10 mins on the clock, Rangers defender David Bates knocked the ball to Wes Foderingham and the keeper mis-controlled close to his own goal line. Alan Forrest, spotted his chance, slid in and turned the ball into the net as the keeper tried desperately to dive onto the ball.

Rangers were shocked, and their fans reduced to a low background noise as United worked hard to maintain their lead. Ayr allowed the Ibrox side much of the ball but created a strong wall in the final third making their visitors work hard for any chances.

On 22 mins, Ayr created another chance with Paddy Boyle crossing from the left and reaching Declan McDaid at the edge of the box, but the winger’s shot went over the bar.

Rangers started to increase the pressure and in the 25th min a cross into the box from James Tavernier was met by Josh Windass but his header smashed off the crossbar. The next chance followed swiftly with Alfredo Morelos inexplicably missing from less than a yard after the ball had been driven across the face of the goal.

However, 5 mins later, Morelos made amends for his miss and drew Rangers even. A cross from the impressive Tavernier found Sean Goss whose shot smashed off the bar and fell to Morelos who thundered the ball into the net

Rangers kept up the pressure on the Ayr defence with both Tavernier and Windass going close and Craig Reid having to clear off the line right on the halftime whistle.

From the start of the second half Rangers had the hammer down creating multiple chances but it was Ayr who almost stole the advantage as Declan McDaid found himself in the box with only keeper Foderingham to beat but the Rangers stopper pulled off a great save as the winger attempted to blast home.

Ayr held out until the 65th min when the Govan side’s efforts finally paid off. Jamie Murphy swung the ball into the box and Jason Cummings connected at close range, putting the ball in at the right-hand post.

Ayr lost their momentum and Rangers went on to score twice in the next five minutes. Josh Windass grabbed Rangers’ third in the 69th minute, collecting and controlling the rebound from a Declan John attempt then sending the ball in at the bottom right hand corner.

3 mins later and Morelos picked up his second and Rangers’ fourth following a cute one-two with Murphy in the box.

Ayr looked out on their feet and it was no surprise when Rangers struck again in the 81st min, Windass jumping high to head the ball into the bottom corner.

Ayr then conjured up one final attempt, with McDaid finding substitute Craig McGuffie with a Crossfield. The youngster did well to cut into the box, but his shot was blocked.

To add insult to injury, Murphy wrapped up the scoring in the 88th min with his side’s sixth. The winger cut through midfield into the box and his right-footed shot went past Ruddy to round up the 6-1 win for Rangers.

With the Honest Man out of the Scottish Cup, all focus is now back on the league and next Saturday’s game against East Fife at Somerset Park.

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Michael Rose