On what proved to be one of the warmest September afternoons in the Highlands Ayr 18s made the long journey north to play against the current League Champions from last season. A difficult game was anticipated and the opening 20 minutes proved that theory to be the case. Inverness started strongly using a direct approach and forced a number of corner kick opportunities. With a marked height advantage this was always likely to prove a potent threat for the home side. Twice they went close with headers just going over the top of goalkeeper Kirkland’s crossbar. Minutes later Kirkland made a fine save to his left hand side but bettered that shortly after when a cross deflected off Ayr centre back Alex Jeanes looked a certain goal. However, Ayr’s keeper again came up big with a terrific reflex save to knock the ball over. They say ‘goals change games’ which they do but goalkeepers’ saves do just the same!. One minute later with 20 minutes on the clock Ayr took the lead. A superb through ball from midfielder Paul Smith split the Inverness back line and Andrew Heaney timed his run to perfection to finish with aplomb! The perfect counter attack from the away side and in fact the sixth assist in 6 games from midfielder Smith. Five minutes later and Ayr were two goals to the good. Quick build up play involving firstly Aaron Miller and Paul Smith saw a neat touch from striker Sam McKee send forward Kaylum Ferguson in to finish with ease. Then on the half hour mark a blow for the away side when their influential midfielder Paul Smith was forced off with a hamstring injury. However, Smith was replaced with the in form Ryan Hannah who slotted in well to the midfield three. Goal number three was just around the corner when after a great twisting and turning run from Brian Connor on the left gave Ferguson his second goal of the game from close in. Ayr were using the wide pitch to their advantage with sharp passing movements and making their opponents work very hard to get any decent possession of the ball. On forty minutes Ayr were four goals to the good when an accurate pass from full back Lewis Nohar saw striker Sam McKee take a deft touch for Ayr captain Andrew Heaney to produce a run from deep and finish in the top corner. The perfect example of third man running! With barely seconds left before the half time whistle Ayr switched off and conceded a soft goal. Standing off in midfield allowed a simple pass to split the Ayr defence and the Inverness No 11 went through for a simple finish.
Half Time : Inverness 1 Ayr United 4
Ayr wasted little time to get going in the second half when following a terrific pass from Andrew Heaney striker Sam McKee strode in from the right hand side and beat the keeper from 12 yards. Yet another lethal counter attack from the away side! However, minutes later Ayr conceded a second goal. A needless free kick given away saw a curling ball played into a sea of bodies headed home off the junction of post and crossbar and over the line. With a healthy lead however Ayr began to ring the changes. The away side firstly withdrew the injured Lewis Nohar, moving centre back Alex Jeanes to full back and Dylan Fraser taking his place in the middle of defence. Next up was forward Alex Dean replacing striker Sam McKee who had contributed a goal and two assists in what was a good afternoon’s work. It wasn’t long before Dean made his presence felt when he was on hand to force the ball home at the back post following a mix up between the home keeper and a defender. New signing Reiss Kasule replaced Alex Jeanes at full back for the last 20 minutes which saw striker Brian Connor twice go close to scoring.
Full Time : Inverness 2 Ayr United 6
Head Coach John Crawford was understandably pleased with the team’s positive showing on the road. Crawford said, ’A very good performance, 3 valuable points and 6 goals away from home is just reward for an excellent team effort. Once we got through the opening 20 minutes against an awkward opponent we passed the ball well and used the width of the pitch to our advantage. Some very good individual performances today but more importantly the ‘team performance’ was the key to winning the game.’
Ayr United :
Kirkland, Nohar, Jeanes, Bilham, McFadyen, Smith, Miller, Heaney, Ferguson, McKee and Connor.
Subs : Hannah, Dean, Fraser and Kasule.