Honest Men @ Lennoxtown to play Celtic FC
This afternoon the Honest Men travelled to Lennoxtown at the foot of the Campsie Fells to front up against Celtic FC at their impressive training centre.
Celtic the outstanding team last season at Under 17s and current champions therefore promised a stern challenge to the Ayr players.
Following the disappointment of last week’s reversal v Hibernian the Ayr players were determined to show a positive reaction and to produce a much improved performance.
Despite continual and prolonged cloud bursts the grass surface was in first class condition and conducive to playing good football.
Celtic were quick to show their intent and in 5 minutes Ayr keeper Danny Graham made a good stop from a well struck shot from just outside the 18 yard box.
Ayr however were not rattled and were showing good composure while in possession.
Although Celtic had a bit more of the ball in the early stages Ayr continued to press well and pose a threat on the counter attack. On the 14 minute mark it was in fact Ayr who came agonisingly close to opening the scoring.
Robert Frew was played in by Gabe Skeoch on Ayr’s left side. Frew stepped inside his marker and fired his shot past the Celtic keeper only to see the ball crash back off the upright and to safety.
Unlucky for the Honest Men but again underlining fine margins.
On 25 minutes Celtic played the ball around well and their midfield player found a pocket of space just inside the Ayr box. This time his shot beat Ayr keeper Graham but rebounded back off the post and cleared to safety.
Celtic were increasing the pressure at this stage and International Dembele fashioned a bit of space in the box from a free kick but his shot went narrowly past Graham’s left hand post. On 42 minutes Ayr keeper Danny Graham produced a top class save when left 1-1 with the Celtic striker he blocked the shot with his foot to keep the sides level.
Just on the interval Ayr very nearly went ahead. This time full back David Oliphant sent in a deep cross. Ayr winger Robert Frew found space between the two Celtic centrebacks but his header unfortunately found the hands of the home keeper when to either side would almost certainly have produced a goal.
Half Time Celtic 0 Ayr United 0.
Ayr began the second half on the front foot and Robert Frew was quick to let fly with a shot from 22 yards which the keeper smothered at his near post.
Celtic were next to show when the tricky Dembele found some space at the back post area but his fierce shot was superbly knocked onto the post by Ayr keeper Graham.
Ayr were next to threaten when midfielder Danny Mitchell avoided two challenges but his well struck shot was just too high.
However, finally on 60 minutes Celtic made the all important breakthrough. Winger Dembele appeared to lose possession of the ball in the Ayr box but managed to slip the ball inside. The Celtic striker took a decent touch and from 12 yards placed the ball into the far corner past Ayr keeper Graham.
Ayr however kept their composure and continued to do well in possession playing some neat football. Kaylum Ferguson and Callum Bryce replaced Robbie Laurie and Danny Mitchell in an effort to add fresh impetus to proceedings. As the game entered the final fifteen minutes Ayr were the team in the ascendancy and in fact finished the stronger side.
Three times the away side threatened to score and it was down to the home keeper to come to Celtic’s rescue.
Firstly Joe Barker made one of his trademark runs but the ball didn’t sit kindly and his shot flew over the top.
However, with 8 minutes left on the clock the alert Kaylum Ferguson went very close to equalising for the Ayr men. As the ball was played into the box the Ayr winger and the keeper both went for the loose ball and it took a brave block to stop Ferguson scoring.
By this time Ayr had also replaced Robert Frew and Gabe Skeoch with striker Josh Dillon and winger Paul Smith. Striker Dillon nearly levelled the match in the 85th minute when he fought hard to dispossess a Celtic defender but his fiercely hit shot from 14 yards was superbly beaten away by the home keeper.
Paul Smith then showed quick feet on the left side, stepping inside his marker and his dangerous cross unfortunately saw no takers and the games was gone.
Full Time – Celtic 1 Ayr United 0.
Ayr Head Coach John Crawford was disappointed for his players to lose such a close encounter but was very pleased at the positive reaction and performance from the previous week. Crawford praised the Ayr players for their excellent team shape throughout very good fitness levels and for the fine individual and group performances produced on the day.
The coach added that the team had demonstrated an ability to compete this season at Elite Level and had more than matched Celtic right to the end of the game.
Graham, Oliphant, Brown, Love, Ecrepont, Barker, Griffiths, Laurie, Mitchell, Frew, Skeoch.
Subs : Ferguson, Dillon, Bryce, Hannah, Angus, Smith, McKinnon.
Ayr will host Motherwell next Sunday morning at Belmont Academy 11.00am kick off.