On Friday evening Ayr United 18’s took the road to the Fountain of Youth Stadium to play Elite side Hamilton F.C. Following a very good 2nd half performance the previous week v Celtic resulting in a 5-3 reversal the away side were looking for a good performance against their illustrious opponents. Hamilton, Elite League Champions some two years previously and with a European campaign last year are always a tough proposition to play against.
With a hard frost beginning to bite the playing surface was crisp but playable and both teams set to their task. Ayr giving a league debut to winger Josh Robinson from their 16’s and a trialist full back started brightly and created a couple of early chances. In fact Robinson picking the ball up just inside his own half set off running directly at the Hamilton back line suddenly found himself 1 v 1 with the keeper who blocked his shot with his outstretched legs. Hamilton forced a number of corner kicks but Ayr stood firm and defended well. Both sides were moving the ball well with Ayr just having the edge on half chances. Ayr midfielder Paul Smith went close when he whipped one of his trademark free kicks just past the post from 25 yards. With Ayr striker Kaylum Ferguson leading the line well the away side continued to link up quickly from midfield. Josh Robinson again made a penetrating run forward and continuing to cause problems for the home defence. Hamilton were finding difficulty breaking Ayr down as when they had possession of the ball the away side’s shape was solid. With Logan Angus and Josh Robinson providing good width on the wings Ayr continued to stretch the Hamilton back line.However no goals were forthcoming and the interval duly arrived scoreless.
Half Time : Hamilton 0 Ayr United 0
Ayr came out for the second half with no changes but knowing they would require the same intensity and tenacity to get a positive result. Both teams again settled quickly in what had become a fast game on the frosty surface. Ayr’s midfield three of Heaney, Smith and Miller more than matched that of their opponents and again the away side continued to be quick
on the transitions and moving the ball well. Although Ayr had mainly threatened down their left hand side the goal which duly arrived came from the opposite side of the pitch. Captain Andrew Heaney again won the ball in midfield for his team and fed the ball quickly to midfielder Logan Angus. Angus set off and then delivered a terrific cross with pace toward the Hamilton 6 yard area. Kaylum Ferguson got across his market and fairly rifled the ball past the Hamilton keeper on the fifty five minute mark. No more than Ayr deserved and minutes later almost scored again. Good work down their left side saw Robinson step back inside his marker and as he strode into the box he lifted his shot over the Hamilton keeper. Lady Luck however smiled on the home side as Robinson’s shot came back off the face of the crossbar and although Ferguson got his foot to the rebound could only steer the ball into the side netting. Both sides rang the changes with Smith, Robinson, Angus and Ferguson being replaced by Hannah, Connor, Dean and McKee to give fresh legs and impetus in the final stages of the game. Hamilton as expected threw everything at Ayr in the final minutes but the away side defended resolutely to keep the clean sheet and the three points.
Full Time : Hamilton 0 Ayr United 1
Head Coach John Crawford was quick to praise the Ayr players for a terrific team performance throughout the ninety minutes. Crawford said, ‘There has been a degree of inconsistency this season but tonight the players were top drawer producing one of the very best team performances I’ve seen from an Ayr side away to Hamilton. Our passing and possession of the ball was of a good standard tonight as was our movement off the ball. We caused Hamilton a lot of problems in their defensive third while also defending extremely well ourselves as a team. Keeper Kirkland and his defenders Jeanes, Fraser, Bilham and Trialist were resolute throughout. Every player contributed to a very positive performance and a well deserved three points’.
Ayr United :
Kirkland, Jeanes, Fraser, Bilham, Trialist, Miller, Smith, Heaney, Angus, Robinson, Ferguson.
Subs : Dean, Angus, McKee, McFadyen, Nohar, Hannah, Kasule.