Ayr United 18s welcomed Elite League side Motherwell to Cumnock
On Friday evening Ayr United 18s welcomed Elite League side Motherwell to Cumnock for what proved to be a tough encounter.
Ayr had the previous week lost narrowly 3-2 to Hibernian with goals from Paul Smith and Ross Love not being quite enough on the night. With only two games in two and a half months Ayr were certainly in need of competitive action and in the first half it certainly looked that way.
Motherwell completely dominated proceedings for the majority of the first 45 minutes and Ayr were fortunate to go in at the interval on level terms. Motherwell moved the ball around quickly and sharply with excellent rotations in midfield and forward areas with the Ayr players chasing shadows.
Chances came and passed for the away side with a couple of crosses fizzing across Ayr’s 6 yards box and only needing a final touch to open the scoring.
A corner kick in 20 minutes could also have counted when Motherwell’s striker out jumped his marker only to head narrowly over.
Half Time : Ayr United 0 Motherwell 0
Ayr relieved to reach the interval on level terms made two personnel changes at half time and three positional switches in order to give the great more balance in midfield. The hard working Nathan McSkeane returning for his first start after suffering a broken leg and midfielder Joe Barker were replaced by midfielders Aaron Miller and Declan McFadyen.
Midfielder Andrew Heaney was moved further forward with Paul Smith going wide and Kaylum Ferguson going up top as the lone striker, McFadyen and Miller anchored the midfield area which was to provide dividends for the home side
Ayr started the second period much more on the front foot, getting closer to their opponents and starting to win more first and second balls.
It still required Ayr keeper Danny Graham to pull off a first class save low to his right hand side and turn the net bound shot past for a corner kick.
Ayr were now defending well and with a much more compact look about them the game had become much more balanced as a contest.
The first twenty minutes of the second half became a real contest all over the pitch as Ayr were just beginning to get the upper hand.
Kaylum Ferguson was holding the ball up well and bringing players into the game with the mercurial Ayr winger Owen McGinty causing the Motherwell defenders all kinds of problems with his feints and turns and dribbling skills.
With some 18 minutes left Ayr fashioned a great move down their right hand side starting with keeper Graham’s excellent throw to full back Alex Jeanes, his forceful run linking with Paul Smith and winning Ayr a corner kick.
Owen McGinty delivered a terrific ball towards the front post which saw Aaron Miller lose his market to finish well at the near post.
Ayr were now in the ascendancy and dominating the midfield area where Miller, McFadyen and Heaney had taken a stranglehold on proceedings.
Ayr keeper Graham again made a great stop from a Motherwell midfielder and captain Ross Love made a superb challenge in his penalty area to deny a Motherwell striker.
Owen McGinty again delivered a quality cross from the left which on another day striker Ferguson may have converted.
Ayr again came close to sealing the points when good work by McFadyen presented Ferguson with an opportunity close in.
As the game entered the final stages and with 8 minutes left on the clock that man McGinty produced the pass of the game.
As Ayr countered on the break McGinty played a precision pass perfectly over Kaylum Ferguson’s marker. Ferguson showed great composure as he turned inside and shot past the keeper from 8 yards out.
Game, set and match for the Ayr team and a welcome 3 points.
Full Time – Ayr United 2 Motherwell 0.
Head Coach John Crawford was understandably pleased with the result and particularly the reaction from his team in the second half. Crawford said, “You have to earn the right to win any game and our first half performance was well below par. However, in the second half the players stuck together as a team and earned their win through markedly upping their work rate, attitude and commitment. A great three points and on to next week’s home match v Dundee United”.
Ayr United :
Graham, Jeanes, Richardson, Love, Bilham, Barker, Heaney, Smith, Ferguson, McSkeane and McGinty.
Subs : Laurie, McFadyen, Brown, Angus, Millar, Nohar and Burns.