Tuesday 24 July 2018
Betfred Cup
HT   3 - 0
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Ayr United v Stenhousemuir | Match Preview

On Tuesday night, Ayr United face League 1 new boys Stenhousemuir at Somerset Park looking to maintain their 100% record in the Betfred Cup. A third win out of three could put us on the verge of qualification for the next round ahead of the last game of the group, away to Partick Thistle on Saturday.

Ian McCall made four changes for the weekend trip to face Albion Rovers and is likely to shuffle the pack once more as he seeks to give as all his first team squad game time. Cliftonhill’s scorched park contributed to poor spectacle but the Honest Men were well worth the 2-0 victory in Coatbridge.

Stenhousemuir will complete their group stage fixtures tomorrow night having already played three matches in the competition. Brown Ferguson’s side picked up at resounding 4-0 at home to Albion Rovers a week ago but were defeated 2-0 on the opening weekend by Partick Thistle and lost out by the same scoreline to Morton at Cappielow on Saturday.

Opponents:

The Warriors finished in fourth position in League 2 last season – 22 points behind second-placed Peterhead – but clinched promotion via the play-offs at the expense of the Blue Toon with a narrow 2-1 aggregate win in the final. Former Ayr United defender Mick Dunlop was the Warriors’ hero over the two games, scoring twice during the second-half of the first-leg at Ochilview.

Dunlop and brother Ross have since moved on but Ferguson has held on to top goalscorer Mark McGuigan. Morgyn Neill, who was Ian McCall first signing at Ayr when he joined on loan from Motherwell, has signed for the Warriors from Stranraer and Graeme Smith, also ex-Ayr, in Stenny’s new number one after five years with Brechin City.  Attacking midfielder Sebastian Ross is one to look out for – the Scottish youth internationalist is on loan from Aberdeen, where was U20s player of the year last season.

Team News

Ross Docherty returns to the match day squad, however, Craig Moore misses out though illness.

Ian Says

We are looking forward to getting back to Somerset after our performance there against Morton. The pitch wasn’t great on Saturday and the performance was similar, we never really got going despite being pretty comfortable. We will be looking to get our third win in a row however we know it will be difficult, we have had Stenny watched and they are a decent side. Back at Somerset though we know if we play the way we can we should be able to get the three points which will put us in a good position in the group.

Head to Head

Ayr United wins –41

Draws – 17

Stenhousemuir wins – 27

 

There have been five League Cup meetings between the sides, with United winning 3, one draw and one Stenny win.

Last Meeting

The last matches between the two sides were during season 2015/16 in League 1. United won all four fixtures that season, scoring 14 goals. The Warriors lost 5-2 and 4-1 at Somerset Park.

Ayr United v Stenhousemuir | Team Lineups

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Ayr United v Stenhousemuir | Match Report

Honest Man

Lawrence Shankland

The Honest Men produced another dominant display to brush aside Stenhousemuir at Somerset Park on Tuesday evening. A hattrick from Lawrence Shankland (his second in three games) and a brace from Michael Moffat ensured that United coasted to a comfortable 5-0 victory.

United got off to the perfect start after only 2 mins as Shankland opened the scoring.  Moffat collected the ball and flicked it forward towards McGuffie but it deflected off Dickson and into the path of Shankland on the right-hand side of the box. The striker confidently blasted the ball past advancing keeper McMinn, and into the net. 1 – 0 United.

It wasn't long before it was 2 and when it came it was a goal of real quality. On 7 mins, Ayr worked the ball out from the back on the right before Moffat switched the ball to the left for Forrest. The winger cut inside, flicked the ball to a heavily marked Moffat at the edge of the box who, with his back to goal, slipped the ball wide to the overlapping Harvie. The left-back delivered a superb, lofted, curling cross to the back post where the un-marked Shankland nodded home.  Ayr were in a clinical mood and it was 2-0 before the 10 min mark. 

Stenny's first chance of the game fell to the veteran McMenamin on 12 mins. Breaking free on the right he dribbled into the box but dragged his shot wide of the near post from a promising position.  Moments later Dickson did well down the left before smashing the ball across the 6-yard line but somehow McMenamin missed the ball when it appeared a simple tap in.

Ayr then went close again. A poor cross-field pass put defender Reid into all kinds of difficulty and Forrest nipped in and stole the ball before dashing forward. With Shankland running interference to his left, Forrest turned inside and released a shot from 18 yards that squeezed past the post with the keeper beaten.

On 28 mins, Rose found McGuffie on the left with a delicious ball through the Warrior's defence, allowing him to send in a pacey low cross into the box. 8 yards out and under pressure from Johnson, Forrest missed the ball completely when it seemed certain he would score.

Dickson was proving to be the visitor's most influential player and he went close with a 25-yard drive that fizzed just wide of the right-hand post on 32 mins.

Any hope of a Stenhousemuir revival hit a huge dent when Ayr slotted away their third on 41 mins. Forrest made his way forward before slipping the ball between Johnson and Tena and into the path of Shankland on the right. The striker surged into the box before sliding the ball across the face of goal for Moffat to tap in at the back post.  

The Honest Men didn't let up and came out the traps even quicker in the second half.  1 min in and Harvie's low ball from the left was met by that man Shankland who coolly fired into the net to bag his hattrick and put the game beyond doubt for Ayr.  A second hattrick in as many games at Somerset Park this season for Shankland.  4-0 Ayr and 46 mins gone.

Even with the foot off the pedal, United continued to dominate and created chance after chance. Just 1 min after Shankland's strike, McGuffie curled a shot inches wide from the edge of the box, and on 50 mins Harvie's header from a McGuffie freekick hit the outside of the bar with keeper McMinn beaten.

Arguably Stenny's best chance of the game came on 52 mins when Murdoch was dispossessed allowing McGuigan in behind the United defence. Rose managed to make up ground and block the ball, but it spun back into the path of McGuigan.  The striker then somehow managed to drag the ball wide of the left-hand post when it seemed easier to score.

The elusive 5th goal for Ayr just didn't seem to want to come, and next, it was keeper McMinn's time to deny United. With 14 mins to go, Forrest slipped the ball to Moffat on the right and he delivered a precision cross onto the foot of the in-rushing McDaid. The substitute smashed the ball goalwards only to see the Warriors' stopper pull off a tremendous blocking save.

Twice in 2 mins, Forrest went close. First, a quick one-two with Moffat sent the winger racing into the box but his shot went wide to the left under pressure from Dickson, and second, a shot from almost the same position went inches wide to the right. 1 min later (80 mins) Declan McDaid fired a vicious drive just over the bar from 18 yards after working his way forward.

Stenhousemuir tried manfully to grab something from the game but again poor finishing was to be their downfall.  Quickly released by his keeper, Duthie charged forward from the edge of his own penalty area, deep into the Ayr half. Ferguson seemed to have done enough to stop the run, but his flick bounced off the shins of Forrest and back into the path of Duthie who played in McGuigan who again managed to miss with a clear shot on goal.

To wrap up a 5-star performance, the final goal of the game came immediately.  As Ayr moved back up the park, a mistake by Stenny's Morgyn Neill saw him passing the ball across the edge of his penalty area, straight to Ayr's McDaid. McDaid played the ball through to Moffat, on his left, and the striker curled a fantastic shot into the bottom right corner to complete the scoring. 

Ayr now travel to Firhill on Saturday for a match which will decide the winner of Betfred Group E.  At present Partick and Ayr are tied on 9 points although the Honest Men have the better goal difference.

Ayr United v Stenhousemuir | Match Timeline

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Ayr United v Stenhousemuir | Match Stats

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Ayr United v Stenhousemuir | Media

Lawrence Shankland latches onto a through ball
Lawrence Shankland has given Ayr an early lead
Andy Murdoch beats the challenges
Lawrence Shankland and Michael Moffat combine
Lawrence Shankland gets his head to Daniel Harvie's cross
disconsolate keeper Lewis McMinn watches the celebrations. 2-0
Manager Ian McCall urges his troops on
Warriors keeper McMinn foils Ayr again
Lawrence Shankland cuts the ball across goal
Michael Moffat pounces at the back post
A first of the season for Michael Moffat. 3-0
Lawrence Shankland races onto a cross ball
Shankland's shot hits the back of the net
Jamie Adams climbs for a corner kick
Michael Moffat takes Declan McDaid's pass first time
Michael Moffat's curling shot beats keeper McMinn

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

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