Ayr United 18s 2019/20 season got underway by welcoming to Cumnock far travelled visitors Ross County for their opening league match of the new season. The Premier League side included several full-time players in their line-up for what promised to be a hard-fought encounter. United included new signings Sam McKee, Brian Connor, Laughlan Kirkland and Dylan Fraser within their own squad which was also boosted with the inclusion of international Finn Ecrepont.
Weather conditions were very warm and sultry for kick off and keeping good possession of the ball would prove to be key. The opening ten minutes were fairly even with both teams keen to get forward. United settled into a good rhythm with good passing and movement off the ball. A good run and cross from Sam McKee across the 6 yard box found no takers but minutes later Ayr opened the scoring. Brian Connor was fouled just outside the corner of the 18 yard box. With both Paul Smith and Finn Ecrepont standing over the ball, it was Smith who curled the ball past the keeper into the far corner. A terrific free kick to open the season’s account. Within a minute the away side were two goals behind, with Ayr winning the ball back higher up the pitch which resulted in Paul Smith picking up possession and he drove towards goal leaving three defenders in his wake before sweeping the ball past the goalkeeper. Another quite excellent goal!
Ross County continued to rely on finding their tall number 9 with long balls but Alex Jeanes stuck close to his man with Kinlay Bilham providing the cover. Ayr were now however in full flow and goal number three was just around the corner. Alex Dean won the ball in midfield and played the ball forward for the ever-willing Andrew Heaney who had made a run off his marker before placing the ball past the County keeper. United were now in full control added a fourth goal close to the interval. Striker Sam McKee who led the line well with his clever runs and good movement latched onto a through ball before beating a defender and picking his spot with a composed finish.
Half Time: Ayr United 4 – Ross County 0
The second half promised to be more of the same and it certainly proved so as Ayr only took some 20 seconds before increasing their lead through Brian Connor. Connor won a good header and as he received the ball back drove towards the corner of the 18 yard box, cutting inside Connor then unleashed a terrific fierce drive which beat the keeper all ends up before crashing off the far post near the junction and into the net.
Things then went from bad to worse for the visitors as five minutes later United scored again. This time a corner kick by Paul Smith from the right hand side saw Alex Dean lose his marker and as the cross reached the front post area Dean showed great composure in striking it home for goal number six.
The away side did go close to scoring but Ayr keeper Laughlan Kirkland made a good block with the striker through on goal. Ayr began to ring the changes with Kaylum Ferguson replacing Alex Dean on the right of midfield. As Ayr continued to press another goal duly arrived this time from the penalty spot. Midfielder, Paul Smith curled a clever through ball into the path of Brian Connor who had his legs taken from him as he latched onto the ball. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Ayr captain Andrew Heaney sent the goal keeper the wrong way for goal number seven. Ayr made further changes with Fraser, Hannah, Angus and Miller replacing Nohar, Heaney, Connor and Smith. There was no further scoring in the closing twenty minutes although Ayr continued to have decent possession to see the game out.
Final Score: Ayr United 7 – Ross County 0.
Head Coach John Crawford was very pleased to see the team perform so well in the opening league fixture and to collect the three points in such a positive manner. Crawford said, ‘The team has had an intense pre-season with a number of friendlies and worked hard on the training ground with Davie White, Craig Dargo, Mo Admani and goalkeeping coach Stuart Galloway. It was pleasing to see the hard work pay off today with a very strong team performance, good individual performances and some excellent goals. More of the same work ethic will be required when we face Fife Elite next Friday at Cumnock.’
Ayr United :
Kirkland, Nohar, Jeanes, Bilham, Ecrepont, Smith, Heaney, McFadyen, Dean, McKee, Connor.
Subs : Hannah, Ferguson, Angus, Fraser, Miller.