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Ayr United welcomed Queen of the South to Somerset Park in the first game of this season’s Scottish Championship. In a hotly contested game, which saw a penalty and two red cards, it was the Honest Men who emerged 2-1 victors.
The first 10 mins saw QOTS pushing forward. Nortey won a corner for the visitors from the kick-off which was swung in by McKee. Impressive Queens’ defender Obileye rose to meet the ball and fortunately for Ayr his header failed to meet the target and ended up in the Somerset Road End.
Minutes later, United right back Muirhead was called upon to block a dangerous drilled cross in from Maxwell as the visitors threatened the Ayr goal.
Ayr eased into the game, working hard to maintain the ball, their exciting build up play turning the pressure onto the Doonhamers. This led to the opening goal of the game. Ayr won a corner on 13 mins; Chalmers swung the ball into the 6-yard box where Michael Miller, making a run in from 18 yards out, brushed off McCabe then headed home with ease. 1 – 0 Ayr.
On the restart both teams attacked with intent, however Ayr’s high press continued. Only 5 mins later and United were celebrating again with Miller once more finding the back of the net.
Chalmers again swung in a long looping corner deep of the back post to where Moffat had evaded his marker. Moffat headed the ball back across goal to Miller who flicked the ball home giving the home side a 2-goal advantage.
On 22 mins Queens’ full back Maxwell tugged back McCowan as he sprinted away near the halfway line and received a yellow card, and although ‘taking one for the team’ it was one that would prove costly later in the match.
United’s pressure continued with keeper Sinisalo and striker Anderson creating a great chance. Turning defence immediately into attack, Ayr’s Finnish keeper pinged a long ball up to find Anderson who controlled beautifully before taking a pop at goal. However, the shot took a slight deflection and flew inches wide of the post.
Ayr had the upper hand but QOTS worked hard to to push back.
On 37 mins, McKee found Buchannan in the box and he nodded the ball down to Obileye, just yards out, but the towering defender couldn’t organise his feet and the chance was lost.
Queens talisman, Dobbie was starting to cause problems for the United defence, receiving the ball well and creating chances drawing saves from Sinisalo and blocks from Muirhead and Roscoe. On 40 mins the veteran sharpshooter went the closest he had, dribbling his way past the Ayr back line, but his angled shot was comfortably saved by Sinisalo.
1 min later, Robinson slid the pall to Dobbie in the box. Near to the goal line he created space for himself then slammed a left footed drive towards goal but was thwarted by an excellent reaction save by Sinisalo.
From the resultant corner, McKee found East near the front of the 6-yard box. East made strong contact with his head steering the ball towards goal but again Sinisalo was there, acrobatically tipping the ball over the bar.
The teams headed to the changing rooms at half time, with Ayr ahead through Michael Miller’s brace but with Queens showing some dangerous intent.
QOTS kicked off the second half with the same attacking intent that they had shown in the latter stages of the first half, with that man Dobbie the first to try his luck with a right footed drive from the edge of the box which Sinisalo clutched in the centre the goal.
On 53 mins, speedy winger Fitzpatrick drew a foul from Muirhead on the edge of the box, allowing McKee to hit a venomous free kick towards the top left corner, forcing a spectacular one-handed save from Sinisalo.
As the resulting corner flew in, Buchanan was unceremoniously hauled to the ground by Ayr’s captain Baird and it wasn’t too hard a decision for referee Steven McLean make. Penalty Queens.
Seasoned goal scorer Dobbie stepped up and clinically smashed the ball into the next giving Sinisalo no chance. 2 – 1 and plenty to play for.
The Honest Men moved back up the gears turning the pressure onto Queens with Anderson causing problems at the back for the Doonhamers without being able to find the back of the net.
On 61 mins Ayr’s McCowan picked up an unnecessary booking for a foul, and just like Queens’ defender Maxwell, it was one that would come back to haunt him. Maxwell was just about to find out how costly earlier bookings can be.
On 66 mins Dobbie slid the ball into the path of Maxwell who had raced into the box. The Rangers loanee tried to cut inside Baird but, on the stretch, didn’t get full control and decided to go to ground. No penalty but another yellow card for simulation followed by the flash of red. QOTS were down to 10 men.
United took advantage of the extra man, knocking the ball around confidently, and upping the pressure.
First Moffat was slipped into the box by Anderson only to see his attempt blocked by Obileye, but the striker recovered the ball and sent a pass across the 6-yard box which was whipped away by Queens substitute Gibson, just as it looked like United’s Murdoch would turn the ball home.
Next, on 72 mins, Muirhead charged forward, fed Murdoch on the right, and continued his run into the box. Murdoch cut the ball back to Muirhead, but his shot came off Buchanan’s outstretched foot and looped out for a corner.
With 84 mins gone, it was veteran striker Moffat’s next turn to try and achieve 100 goals for Ayr. Baird came out of his half and pushed forward before slipping the ball to Moffat some 10 yards inside the Queens’ half. The striker made his way to the edge of the box, evaded the attention of four Queens’ defenders, before snapping off a shot, only to see keeper Ferguson pull off a magnificent save.
With the clock ticking down a rash decision by McCowan saw the midfielder getting his marching orders from referee McLean. On 90+1 mins, McCowan appeared to be caught from behind, but not with a great amount of contact, but he raised a swiping hand toward Queens player Buchanan. Again, not a difficult decision for referee McLean, out came the yellow card, and due to his earlier indiscretion, there followed a red.
QOTS pounced on the situation, and with the final act of the game (on 90+5 mins) almost found the equaliser. From the left, McCabe pulled out his trademark long throw into the box where, from the front of the 6-yard box, tall strike Goss (a 2nd half sub.) rose, twisting, to knock the ball backwards towards goal. The ball looked a certainty to find the net when Sinisalo fist appeared and the diving keeper directed the ball away. Only seconds later and the final whistle sounded.
The Honest Men now face a tough visit to Inverness next Saturday whether ICT await. ICT will look to make the day difficult for United as try to improve on their disappointing 3-1 loss away to Dunfermline.
All Images are © David Sargent, Alan Graham and Ayr United FC and may not be used without permission