Hibernian 17s v Ayr Utd 17s in the early morning mist
The early kick off at Tranent this morning heralded the second half of the Elite Level Programme with a tough opening fixture away to Hibernian.
Never a happy hunting ground for the Honest Men in the past but also a game which very nearly didn’t take place due to a heavy mist at 11.00am.
With the help of the floodlights the game duly kicked off and the sun coming out shortly afterwards was to save the day!
Early exchanges were fairly even between the two sides with much of the play in midfield. However, Ayr were quick to show in 7 minutes when Kaylum Ferguson made a yard for himself inside the box but as the striker made to shoot a defender got a foot in to block and the unfortunate Ferguson twisted his knee.
Ayr had to quickly reshuffle with Sean Millarvie coming into midfield and Aidan Moffat moving wide.
One minute later and Ayr had taken the lead.
A quickly taken free kick by the home keeper saw his centre back pass the ball back but a misjudgement by the keeper who should have cleared with his feet saw the ball pass him and nestle in the corner of the net.
A touch of good fortune perhaps but good pressing nevertheless by the Ayr team.
The home side relied mainly on switching play with long diagonal balls for their tricky no 9 but more often than not Ayr dealt well with the long ball tactic.
Ayr striker Danny Mitchell worked hard up top to hold the ball up and bring his midfield players into play.
Ayr were quick on the counter but and with good pressing limited Hibs to shooting from distance.
With no real goalmouth incidents the first half hour passed by but the last quarter of the half saw Hibs start to press Ayr back.
Sitting deeper and deeper the Ayr team defended well and dealt competently with a number of corner kicks.
Half time duly arrived with Ayr holding the single goal advantage.
Half Time : Hibernian 0 Ayr United 1
The first quarter hour of the second half saw Hibs press hard to get back on level terms but they met an Ayr side who were working hard for each other and defending resolutely from back to front.
Ayr were using the counter attack to good use and Robert Frew has an opportunity when he cut inside but his shot was comfortably held by the home keeper.
As the half progressed Hibs continued with the long diagonal ball and although the no 9 got some service full back Logan Angus dealt well with the threat. Angus was then injured by a late tackle which earned the Hibs midfielder perhaps fortunately with only a yellow card for a straight leg challenge.
Robbie Laurie of Ayr was next in the book for a pull as Hibs countered. However Ayr were working tremendously hard and as Hibs became more desperate holes began to open up in their back line.
With 20 minutes to go great work by Robbie Laurie saw the big midfielder cut a great ball back for Ayr striker Mitchell whose side footed effort agonisingly best the keeper but rebounded back off the upright.
Ayr keeper Danny Graham then made an excellent save low down to his right as a shot looked to be heading for the bottom corner. Graham then excelled again when left one on one with a Hibs midfielder bravely headed the ball clear from outside his box but receiving a sore knock for his troubles.
Danny Mitchell then had another opportunity from a deep cross but the big striker’s header flew over the crossbar.
Ayr then finally lost full back Angus to injury and replaced him with Lewis Nohar for the last fifteen minutes.
Hibs pressed hard for the equaliser but Ayr as they had done all day fought their corner all over the pitch. Paul Smith then replaced Robert Frew for the closing minutes but Ayr held on for a narrow win and three valuable points.
Full Time : Hibernian 0 Ayr United 1
Head Coach John Crawford was delighted for his players who on the day contested every ball during the 90 minutes. Crawford highlighted the importance of good partnerships in every area of the team and how well the team shape had been organised and kept throughout. Crawford refused to pick out any individuals as the coach emphasised the win was built on a complete team performance. Crawford added, ‘Credit must go to the players and coaching staff who all work tirelessly every week. Today they were all rewarded with an excellent result.’
Ayr United : Graham, Angus, Bryce, Love, Oliphant, Griffiths, Laurie, Moffat, Frew, Mitchell, Ferguson.
Subs : Millarvie, Smith, Nohar.