Ayr United 17s v Hearts 17s
This morning’s early kick off saw the Honest Men front up against their illustrious opponents from the capital city. Ayr were in fact first to show when striker Josh Dillon fired in a shot which was saved by the Hearts keeper at his front post. The away side however hit back, this time with a free kick some 22 yards yards out but Ayr keeper Brotherston did well at full stretch to turn the ball round his left hand post for a corner kick.
Hearts were enjoying a spell of good possession and Ayr were guilty of giving away several free kicks. In the 21st minute Ayr were punished when a free kick was played into the box and the Hearts number nine eluded his defender to head home from 12 yards out. Ayr were very much in this contest and Danny Mitchell was unlucky when he unleashed a shot from 25 yards out but the ball was blocked by one of his team mates. Just on the interval good work by Josh Dillon on the right saw his cross drift just wide. Half Time : Ayr Utd 0 Hearts 1.
The home side started the second half with much more intensity and a higher tempo to their play. Ayr striker Dillon fastened onto a through ball only to see his shot blocked by a defender. Ayr were again on the attack when a smartly flighted free kick from captain Sean Millarvie just eluded three Ayr players much to the relief of the Hearts keeper. The tide was certainly turning at this stage with Ayr pressing their opponents and gaining momentum from increased possession of the ball.
Ayr finally made their pressure pay in the 61st minute when they won a free kick on the left hand side. Forward Gabe Skeoch flighted in a tempting ball which Danny Mitchell, timing his run well headed past the goalkeeper from 12 yards to level the score. Ayr were to be the dominant side in the second period and continued to have the majority of play and chances. However, the away side nearly fashioned a quick reply when a good cross from the right was met with an overhead kick from the dangerous Hearts No 9. Ayr keeper Jamie Brotherston (pictured) was however equal to the effort producing the save of the game by turning the ball one handed round his left hand post.
Ayr then hit back only to see a decent effort from Ross George cleared off the line by a defender. The home side made two changes at this stage, replacing goalscorer Danny Mitchell and forward Ross George with Joe Barker and Ryan Connolly. Striker Josh Dillon was next to go close when he worked his way along the bye line only to see his fierce shot blocked by the keeper. Ayr then replaced Josh Dillon with Deri Thomson for the final stages of the game. Ryan Connolly nearly broke the deadlock with a delicate chip from 14 yards with the ball beating the Hearts keeper but dropping agonisingly over the crossbar. Ayr then lost captain Sean Millarvie to injury replacing him with midfielder Callum Bryce. With a couple of minutes left on the clock midfielder Joe Barker was unlucky to see his shot blocked by a defender a yard from the line following good work by Ryan Connolly. Final Score : Ayr United 1 Hearts 1.
Head Coach John Crawford was particularly pleased with the second half performance as the team pressed higher up the pitch and changed the overall momentum of the game. Although Crawford was quick to praise goalscorer Danny Mitchell and keeper Jamie Brotherston for their contributions he also stressed that the second half was ‘much more’ about a ‘real team performance’. He added that good second half individual performances had produced a much better collective response and that the team had deserved at least a share of the spoils for their efforts.
Next weekend will be a free week for Easter but the team will travel to play Dundee United on Sunday 23rd April.
Ayr United 17s: Brotherston, Wardrope, Brown, Love, Ecrepont, Skeoch, Millarvie, Sisi, George, Dillon, Mitchell. Subs : Connolly, Barker, Thomson, Bryce, Oliphant, Graham.