Ayr United 18’s return to Action against Elite side Hamilton
The Lanarkshire side having already beaten Basel in the previous round had proved worthy league winners from last season’s Under 17s league.
The overhead conditions at Cumnock were challenging with strong gusting winds and driving rain.
With the 1st team game already postponed due to adverse weather conditions a difficult evening lay ahead for both sides.
Hamilton having won the toss elected to take the wind behind their backs and Ayr were soon under early pressure.
In fact with only four minutes played the Somerset Park men were behind. The Hamilton No 9 was allowed too muck space to control the ball and play it round the corner. The left winger raced into the box past two Ayr defenders and buried his shot just inside the front post behind keeper Graham. The early blow saw the away side gain control with quick passing movements and incisive attacks.
Ayr had keeper Graham to thank for a couple of excellent stops as Hamilton got through the Ayr lines too easily.
A further blow for the Honest Men when full back Kinlay Bilham picked up a head injury and had to be replaced by Declan McFadyen.
However, Ayr began to settle and after good close control from forward Owen McGinty, the striker curled his shot just past the Hamilton keeper’s left hand post.
Ayr were also now beginning to get winger Joy Goma some decent service and twice he powered his way past defenders only to see his cross-cum shots evade the on-running Ayr players.
The home side had now started to win more second balls and were more in the ascendancy than before. Hamilton were dangerous at set pieces but Ayr defended well and the score line remained the same as the half time interval duly arrived.
Half Time : Ayr United 0 Hamilton 1
Ayr made their second change of the game replacing midfielder Ryan Hannah with striker Kaylum Ferguson and Aaron Miller slotting into his more familiar midfield role.
The opening stage of the second half was fairly even with both sides competing for midfield supremacy.
Ayr’s Owen McGinty and Joy Goma were proving a handful for the Hamilton defenders and several free kicks were awarded.
Ayr keeper Danny Graham had to look lively to keep out a fierce shot from just inside the box and another effort was beaten away and cleared by a defender. Hamilton then thought they had scored a second goal when the ball was forced home from close in but the far side linesman held his flag aloft for an offside and Ayr breathed a sigh of relief.
A few minutes later Ayr thought they had equalised when Kaylum Ferguson shot home from 12 yards but was adjudged to be marginally offside.
Ayr were now pressing hard for a leveller and as the game reached the last quarter chances started to come the home side’s way.
Shortly after McGinty again went down under a defender’s challenge but the referee adjudged no foul had taken place.
Ayr then replaced the hard working Aaron Miller with wide player Logan Angus and changed their team shape to a 4-4-2.
With Kaylum Ferguson and Owen McGinty through the middle there was more defending to do for the Hamilton defence.
Aidan Moffat then put in two superb crosses and again Ayr twice went close to scoring although no one could get the final touch.
As the game moved into the final ten minutes Ayr replaced midfielder Paul Smith with Robbie Laurie.
Ayr continued to push their opponents back and the visitors were now just holding on as the pressure increased. As the game entered time added on an earlier stoppage for an injury to Ayr captain Ross Love meant additional minutes and in the 96th minute Ayr finally broke through.
A good passage of play saw Kaylum Ferguson play Owen McGinty in some 12 yards out. As McGinty twisted and turned his first effort was blocked by a defender. As the ball broke back to McGinty who was on the ground he just managed to play the ball to the side for Logan Angus to power his shot home from 10 yards.
Every single Ayr player including keeper Graham celebrated a thoroughly deserved equaliser and a well earned point against Elite opposition.
Full Time : Ayr United 1 Hamilton Accies 1
Head Coach John Crawford was fulsome with his praise for his team’s efforts against a very strong opponent. Crawford said, ‘The players should be commended for the way they kept going well into injury time and until the goal finally arrived. Having lost such an early goal the players fought hard for each other and proved that they have both the ability and the determination to get results against most sides. On the night every player contributed to an excellent result played in very trying conditions’.
Ayr United : Graham, Moffat, Richardson, Love, Bilham, Heaney, Hannah, Smith, McGinty, Millar, Goma.
Subs : Laurie, Angus, Ferguson, McFadyen, Nohar, Jeans, Burns.