Hamilton 17s v Ayr Utd 17s
Today saw Ayr travel through to New Douglas Park to play highly flying Hamilton Accies.
The Accies sitting just behind leaders Dundee United with two games in hand and also leading the scoring charts promised to be a tough challenge for the Honest Men.
The home side with a following breeze behind them in the first half came out the blocks quickly. It was though in fact Ayr who first came close following a good run and cross from the overlapping Finn Ecrepont but there were no takers in front of goal.
Hamilton were slick in possession with good movement off the ball and beginning to cause problems for the Ayr defenders. In recent weeks Ayr had avoided conceding free kicks around their penalty box but today was to prove different and decisive for the away side.
With twenty minutes gone Hamilton struck. An Ayr defender attempting to beat his opponent at the edge of the box lost possession and when the ball came back into the box the striker had a simple task finishing from close in.
Five minutes later Ayr were further behind when a poor clearance was latched onto by Hamilton’s wide midfielder who rifled a shot off the far post and past Ayr keeper Graham.
Thirty five minutes on the clock and Ayr were three goals behind when the Hamilton centre back was given a free header at the back post from a corner kick and bulleted the ball home from close in.
Ayr keeper Graham then had a very good save to prevent his team going further behind after a Hamilton midfielder beat three Ayr players coming from deep but Graham was equal to his effort.
Seconds later Graham got some help from his defender Finn Ecrepont who blocked a shot near the line to avoid a certain goal.
Ayr had shown little as an attacking force but Logan Angus delivered an excellent cross from the right which saw striker Mark McKenzie fire narrowly past.
As the interval neared Ayr conceded a fourth goal when indecision by one of their markers allowed the centre back to net from a cross close in.
Again a cheap free kick given away needlessly led to a goal being conceded.
The half came to a close with Ayr being outplayed and out-thought during the first 45 minutes.
Half Time : Hamilton 4 Ayr United 0
For the second half Ayr changed to a more traditional 4-4-2 formation by pushing Danny Mitchell up front to partner Mark Mckenzie in attack.
Ayr started the second half on the front foot and with an energy and endeavour which had seemed missing during the first period.
Some decent passages of play and transitions from midfield to front saw Ayr build a foothold in the game for the first time.
The away side then made two positional changes bringing on Robert Frew and David Oliphant for Logan Angus and Lewis Nohar.
However, a cheap free kick given away near their goal came back to haunt Ayr yet again.
This time as the ball was blocked and then played back in the away side were caught half in and half out which left the Hamilton striker unmarked and an easy job to finish from close in.
Ayr again made another change bringing on Ryan Hannah for Robbie Laurie.
Ayr then put together a good move down their right hand side and as the ball was played into the box Ayr striker Danny Mitchell was fouled and a penalty kick awarded.
Ayr midfielder Euan Griffiths stepped up confidently and placed his spot kick well into the right hand corner of the net.
Callum Bryce then came on in midfield for Ayr replacing Danny Mitchell with Joe Barker moving further forward.
With ten minutes left Ayr conceded a further goal when following a cross from the right Hamilton’s striker found himself in between two Ayr defenders at the far post and cut inside before finishing easily in the corner.
As the clock ran down Ayr then conceded another goal with a now familiar monotony.
This time another free kick was conceded centrally and just outside Ayr’s box. Despite a four man wall the Hamilton midfielder curled his kick into the top corner of Graham’s goal and bringing to an end a day of complete misery for the Honest Men.
Full Time : Hamilton 7 Ayr United 1.
Head Coach, John Crawford offered no excuses for his team’s very poor performance. Crawford said, ‘We were outplayed from start to finish by a very good side who thoroughly deserved their win. When you play a team with good quality you need to play well in possession and defend well. We did neither on the day and hugely disappointingly we conceded six goals leading directly or indirectly from set pieces. You simply cannot afford to do that and it is not good enough!’ However, the coach added, ‘Recent results have been good and so the players need to regroup and show a positive reaction at training this week and in next weekend’s match.
Ayr will now play Fife Elite next Sunday at Belmont Academy with an 11.00am kick off.