Ayr 17’s determined to turn the corner in this midweek encounter at Belmont
Following a disappointing run of recent results Ayr were determined to turn the corner in this midweek encounter at Belmont.
With the wind and rain closing in, near to kick off conditions were never going to favour flowing football.
Ayr kicked off facing a stiff breeze in the first half and with the rain also in their faces.
However, right from the first whistle the Ayr players were clearly up for this game as they pressed Motherwell all over the pitch and forcing errors from their players.
Ayr’s front three of target man Danny Mitchell well supported by captain Gabe Skeoch and Daniel Wamuziri were causing endless problems for the Motherwell back line.
With Ayr’s midfield three of Joe Barker, Euan Griffiths and Hamish Brown winning the battle in midfield the home team began to dominate the ball.
In 17 minutes Ayr took the lead with a fine header from striker Danny Mitchell. Good build up play on Ayr’s right side between Skeoch, Wamuziri and a terrific cross from Hamish Brown saw Mitchell glance the ball past the away keeper into the corner of the net.
No more than Ayr deserved as they continued with their pressing game and winning the ball back further up the pitch than in recent games.
A second goal looked ‘on the cards’ and so it proved to be in the 35th minute when frontman Daniel Wamuziri let fly from some twenty yards out and the ball flew into the Motherwell keeper’s top left hand corner.
A terrific strike and a richly deserved two goal lead for the Honest Men.
With Ayr keeper Danny Graham only having one save of note in the first half the home side saw it through comfortably to half time.
It also has to be said that keeper Graham superbly supported by his back four of Lewis Nohar, Callum Bryce, Ross Love and David Oliphant were dealing well with the sporadic Motherwell attacks.
Half Time : Ayr United 2 Motherwell 0.
Motherwell came ‘out of the traps’ strongly for the second half no doubt determined to change the course of the game.
However, Ayr as they had done in the first half continued to press the ball well and ‘fight for every ball’ as if their lives depended on it.
The game became a ‘real dogfight’ in midfield with both teams looking to get the upper hand.
The main difference with Ayr’s performance tonight was that they were now showing they could ‘manage the game’ better than in recent matches.
With no real chances falling to either team the game entered the last quarter with the score line unchanged.
Ayr replaced midfielder Hamish Brown with forward Robert Frew which saw Gabe Skeoch take up a more central midfield role.
The game continued to ebb and flow with corners being won by both teams but with no further goals. Ayr then replaced Danny Wamuziri with winger Paul Smith and then striker Danny Mitchell with forward Kaylum Ferguson.
Centre back Ross Love was ‘in the wars’ on three occasions but typified the Ayr spirit by continuing to lead by example and exhorting his teammates to ‘keep a clean sheet’!
As the game reached ‘time added on’ there was to be one final twist to proceedings! Motherwell won a corner kick on Ayr’s left hand side. As the ball was driven in, Kaylum Ferguson headed clear from the front area of the six yard box. As the ball found its way forward good work by Paul Smith Smith saw his lofted pass challenged by the Motherwell keeper, a defender and Ayr captain Gabe Skeoch who did remarkably well to win the ball and play it across goal.
Who should be running onto the pass but Kaylum Ferguson who had made a 95 yard run from heading the original corner clear and then side footing the ball home for a third and decisive goal.
The celebrations from the Ayr team to congratulate Ferguson on his goal told everything about the team spirit. The striker who has had a frustrating run of injury and also a barren time in front of goal thoroughly deserved the plaudits from his team mates who recognised the significance of the goal!
Full Time : Ayr United 3 Motherwell 0.
Head Coach John Crawford was understandably delighted with the result but every bit as as much with the team performance. Crawford said,’ The first half performance produced two excellent well worked and well finished goals. The second half although ‘not as pleasing on the eye’ showed that this team are more than able to ‘manage the game’ properly and see it to a successful conclusion!’ Crawford added, It was a terrific team performance, thoroughly professional and on the night every player gave his all for the team’.
Ayr United : Graham, Nohar, Bryce, Love, Oliphant, Griffiths, Brown, Barker, Wamuziri, Mitchell and Skeoch.
Subs : Frew, Ferguson, Smith and Kirkland.