Academy 19s v East Fife 19s
The sun was shining at Somerset Park on Sunday as Ayr United 19s took on visiting East Fife with a Scottish Youth Cup fourth round prize awaiting the winners.
Ayr commanded the game from start to end and goals from returning striker Roddy Paterson, Steven Hutchison and Chris Kelly (pictured) secured the victory required to progress in Scotland’s Premier cup competition.
After defeating SPL side Motherwell in the last round, East Fife must have been buoyant coming into this match and on a perfectly manicured Somerset Park turf, they entered the fray expecting to give a good account of themselves.
Although not overawed by the occasion, East Fife struggled to get any grip on the game and it was their hosts that dominated possession throughout the 90 minutes of play.
Ayr started lively and after 25 minutes, a well-rehearsed corner kick drill was played short to Roddy Paterson who blasted home the opening goal from 18 yards to relieve the tension within the playing and coaching ranks.
Ayr were constantly pushing forward looking for a second goal and amidst a hefty clattering of challenges, Chris Kelly nipped in at the back post but he watched as his shot went agonisingly past the upright. However Ayr were not to be denied the doubling of their lead when Paterson played in Steven Hutchison who expertly rounded the keeper to coolly slot home into the open net.
It was a lead the home side deserved and prior to the half time whistle, Mark Dyer could have added another when he broke through the Fifers defensive ranks on the right but his low drive was well held by the goalie.
Half time came as a welcome break for the visitors in order to renew their batteries and re-think their game plan. For Ayr, it was a time to reflect on the lead they currently held and perhaps rue missed chances that would have put the game beyond doubt.
As with most games, the second half started lethargically but again it was Ayr that were making all the forward moves. Crosses from Andy Muir and Mark Dyer were causing constant panic in the East Fife rear-guard and it didn’t take long for another goal to be added to the score line when Aaron Wylie knocked in a perfectly weighted cut back for Chris Kelly to easily touch home, making the score 3-0 and almost out of sight for the East coast side.
Neil Slooves was next to try his luck on 67 minutes but his bulleted effort from 25 yards drifted wide of the post. Andy Muir played a nice one-two with Steven Hutchison on the edge of the box but he also watched as his shot went wide.
Perhaps the strike that most deserved a goal came from Jackson Longridge when his missile like attempt from 30 yards out was finger tipped round the far post. It was a truly superb shot that on another day would hold the headlines as goal of the match.
As the game drifted towards the 90 minute mark, Ayr’s defence seemed to be switching off and allowed the East Fife attackers a couple of half chances at goal but today, they were not going to open their account and remained scoreless when the final whistle shrilled around the stadium.
The score ended 3-0 for Ayr United and the win moves them into the fourth round of the Scottish Youth Cup to continue the 19s good form in this competition.
Tom Robertson said afterwards: “It was a good all round performance from the players and I was especially pleased by the efforts shown in stopping East Fife from creating many chances. The goals were well worked and finished with in a professional manner to give us the victory.”
“The players have worked hard after last week’s abandoned match and perhaps they could have been excused for not going into challenges with 100% commitment after two leg breaks in that match, but it was the complete opposite and they gave their all in each and every tackle.”
“It’s good to get the win in the cup but next week we’re back to league duty and we have to carry this form forward and continue good winning habits but today I’m pleased for the players and with Mark Roberts and Davie White watching this match, it was an ideal time for them to produce the performance they did.”