Tuesday 26 February 2019
Ladbrokes Championship
HT   1 - 0
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Ross County v Ayr United | Team Lineups

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Ross County v Ayr United | Match Report

Honest Man

Jamie Adams

Ayr United made the long trip home from Dingwall with no points but with heads held high after a five-goal cracker that showcased the best of Scottish football for television viewers all over the country.

With Ross Docherty back as the captain for the night and Jamie Adams making his first start after injury, McCall put out a team that looked strong from front to back.

It wasn’t long before keeper Ross Doohan was called into action. With only 39 seconds on the clock, Daniel Harvie conceded a corner as Ross County pressed forward.  The resulting in-ball was met by Tom Grivosti, but his net-bound header was turned around the post by Doohan diving at full length.

If the Honest Men had been getting used to teams defending in depth against them, this was certainly not going to happen in this game with Ross County driving forward at speed and at every opportunity.

Ayr created a good chance in the 9th min. Lawrence Shankland cleared a Ross County and it was picked up by Calvin Miller in the centre circle. The winger pushed forward but was harried and pushed wide by Marcus Fraser and Lewis Spence but still managed to get his cross in from just outside the box.

County struggled to clear, with Michael Gardyne scuffing his clearance back into the box before Keith Watson could only knock the ball out to United’s Robbie Crawford just outside the box. Crawford fired at goal, but Watson was able to recover, block and turn the ball wide for a corner.

There was not much between the two teams with both Miller and Moffat looking sharp up front and the United backline working hard and, along with Doohan in scintillating form, dealing well with whatever the Staggies could throw at them. Then, in the 35th min, the defence switched off momentarily and it was enough to give hotshot striker Billy McKay his chance.

A corner for Ross County appeared to have been dealt with, but Jamie Lindsay played a high ball over the Ayr backline and behind Jamie Adams who seemed unaware that McKay was lurking there. McKay nipped in, plucked the ball out of the night sky, and slammed the ball past Doohan.  1-0 Ross County.

United attempted to pull back the deficit straight from the restart, pouring forward with eager intent, but County were up to the task and held on to their lead until half time.

If the first half had been played at a frantic pace, then the second half was to be even faster and more exciting.

United showed their intent from the whistle with Miller causing panic down the right. As the hour mark approached the winger went close twice, cutting inside along the line of the box and striking goalwards. Something in the Ayr suggested that United were getting close to the equaliser.

With 60 mins on the clock, the back of the Ross County net bulged courtesy of Lawrence Shankland. Liam Smith played a long looping ball down towards the corner flag on the right and Shankland chased at speed, controlling the ball near the line. Smith had continued his run and the fullback charged onto a threaded pass into the box from Shankland, flicking the ball round Lyndsay then turning the ball to Shankland who had not darted into the box. The striker deftly skipped past Mullin before smashing home with his left foot. A goal of some quality, 1 – 1, and the game’s fuse was lit.  

Then came 10 mins of sublime and nerve tangling football as both teams went ‘hell for leather’ to try and come out top, and the action swung from end to end. County came the closest with Doohan pulling off a save from a Graham header, then blocking McKay close in, before Daniel Harvie got in on the act, sliding in to clear off the line from an angled, close-range shot.

On 70 mins County grabbed their second and again Ayr played a part in their own downfall. Substitute Mark Kerr’s short pass was easily intercepted some 25 yards out and County worked the ball first left and then across the edge of the penalty area to McKay whose perfectly struck shot curved into the top of the net. 2 goals for County and 2 goals for McKay.

If County thought Ayr were just going to lie down and accept this result, then they were in for a shock as the Honest Men immediately pressed for their second equaliser of the night. They didn’t have to wait long as the teams were level a mere 2 mins later.

Ayr broke from the halfway line, with quick incisive one-touch play from Murdoch, Miller, and Moffat taking the ball into the County half and releasing Shankland into the final third. Shankland powerfully passed the ball across the 6-yard line where Moffat slid in, under pressure from Fraser, and somehow directed the ball back across the face of goal. And there was Andy Murdoch racing up in support to nod home much to the delight of the travelling fans.

Surely that was that? Both teams deserved something from this rousing match but Staggies striker Billy McKay was having none of that.

Mullin flighted in a freekick into the box from some 25 yards out and Keith Watson headed towards goal. Doohan pushed the header away but McKay, again lurking at the back post did well to turn the ball into the goal as the ball seemed to have passed him. Celebrations were cut short as the Ross County players frantically waved medical staff on to the field for McKay, who had fallen badly and broken his arm.

Despite throwing everything at Ross County for the remaining 15 minutes, Ayr were unable to get the goal that would have earned them a well-merited draw. The game ended with the home side claiming all three points and strengthening their position at the top of the league.

With Dundee United registering a 1-0 win over Inverness at home, Ayr now slip to third place, an outcome that such a performance never deserved.

Ross County v Ayr United | Match Timeline

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Ross County v Ayr United | Match Stats

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Ross County v Ayr United | Media

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