On Friday morning Ayr made the long journey north to play Elite opponents and joint league leaders Aberdeen FC. The game took place at the excellent Balmoral Stadium home of Division 2 leaders Cove Rangers. A superb 4G surface awaited the players of both teams despite the awful overhead conditions which were to last the full 90 minutes. With the pitch quite slick due to the falling rain Aberdeen were on the front foot early on and in fact took the lead in just 4 minutes with the award of a penalty kick. Hard to argue this one as a tug on the jersey by Ayr full back Alex Jeanes left the referee little choice. Aberdeen captain and Scotland international Connor Barron stepped up and competently beat Ayr keeper Kirkland. Ayr were trying to play the right way by moving the ball through midfield and created a couple of half chances of their own. Good play down the left by Lewis Nohar was unlucky as the cross was blocked by a defender. Ayr midfielder Paul Smith then played a nice reverse pass just inside the Don’s box but it just had a little much too pace. As Ayr were just finding their feet another penalty kick was awarded in the 13th minute. On this occasion a questionable decision. As Aberdeen’s No 9 drove into the Ayr box he appeared to take a heavy touch and as the ball appeared to be heading over the bye line the striker ran straight into Ayr’s central defender Declan McFadyen. Down went the No 9 and unfortunately for Ayr the referee again pointed to the spot. Connor Barron again stepped up with an accomplished finish and Ayr were now two goals behind. The away side kept going and Brian Connor was unlucky to see the Aberdeen keeper save his fierce effort at the second attempt. Ayr keeper Kirkland then made a great stop with his legs to avert an almost certain goal. However with 30 minutes on the clock the home side struck again and this time the Ayr defenders could and should have done better. A shot from Aberdeen’s No 7 from just inside the box flew into the far left hand corner. Disappointingly little pressure was put on the ball and a simple finish meant a long way back for the away side. Ayr striker Sam McKee then latched onto a good pass but delayed his shot and the chance was lost. Just as the interval beckoned Ayr conceded a very soft goal indeed. Aberdeen’s big No 9 who caused the Ayr defenders problems throughout the first half somehow eluded a number of Ayr defenders and passed the ball into the net from close range.
Half Time : Aberdeen 4 Ayr United 0
A difficult half in many ways for the Ayr side who made two changes at the interval bringing on Reece Kasule and Dylan Fraser for Alex Jeanes and the concussed Kinlay Bilham. As difficult as the first half had been Ayr proceeded to play some very good football in the second period. Some well worked moves and positive transitions of play created opportunities for the away side. Brian Connor weaved his way past two players and was unlucky to see his shot go close. Sam McKee was also causing problems when he dropped off into little pockets of space and linked up with his midfield runners. As the game went deeper into the second period Ayr finally got on the score sheet when after a corner kick Brian Connor’s perseverance saw him finish at the far post. Ayr replaced Logan Angus and Aaron Miller with midfielders Alex Dean and Ryan Hannah as they game ebbed and flowed. Ayr should certainly have had a second goal when after a Ryan Hannah header was blocked by the keeper Andrew Heaney make a late fun to fire the ball high into the net. Amazingly the near side linesman flagged for offside despite Heaney running past the Aberdeen centre back. In fact Ayr could well have been awarded a spot kick of their own as on the original cross Sam McKee was tackled late and brought down unceremoniously. However, Ayr kept going to the final whistle and showed the right desire despite the final scoreline.
Final Score : Aberdeen 4 Ayr United 1
Head Coach John Crawford regretted the difficult start conceding two goals through penalty kicks in the opening stage of the game and two very soft goal prior to half time. Crawford said, ‘The two goals before the interval could and should have been better defended and of course good sides such as Aberdeen punish you’. However, Crawford added that the team had in fact played far better in this game than the previous week against Partick Thistle. ‘The players passed the ball far better in this match and their movement was also much improved’.
Ayr United :
Kirkland, Jeanes, McFadyen, Bilham, Nohar, Angus, Smith, Heaney, Miller, McKee and Connor.
Subs : Hannah, Dean, Fraser and Kasule.