A close encounter with no quarter asked
Ayr faced up to near neighbours Partick Thistle in what turned out to be a close encounter with no quarter asked or given by either side.
Partick shaped up with a 3-5-2 system whilst Ayr went with their standard shape of 4-2-3–1.
Thistle had a number of tall players in their side and an early warning came for the home side in the opening exchanges.
Thistle won a corner kick on Ayr’s right hand side and when the ball was fired into the box the away side got an extra player round the back.
The Partick player hit a strong shot towards Ayr keeper Danny Graham’s left hand post but the big keeper made a terrific save low down.
An important save as such moments can easily change the outcome of a game. Partick were getting some decent possession in the opening quarter of an hour with the Ayr players having to work hard to close down their opponents. However, in the 22nd minute Ayr took the lead with a very well worked goal. Kaylum Ferguson did well to win the ball just inside the Thistle half and the midfielder picked out wide man Daniel Wamuziri with a good pass. Wamazuri showed good pace before delivering a great cross towards the front post area where Ayr striker Owen McGinty powered his header past the Thistle keeper from 10 yards.
Simple but effective and Ayr had their noses in front.
Three minutes later McGinty nearly added to his tally with a curling free kick from outside the box which just fizzed past the keeper’s right hand post. Then a moment of some concern when Ayr defender Ross Love was caught one one one with Thistle’s bustling striker some 25 yards from Ayr’s goal.
As the two players tussled for the ball the No 9 went to ground along with Ayr’s central defender but the referee waved play on much to the relief of the home side. McGinty then did well to play Wamuziri inside Thistle’s box but although the winger got his shot away the keeper was equal to his effort.
Half Time Ayr United 1 Partick Thistle 0
No changes for Ayr at the interval and the second half began as the first with the away side making a fast start.
Ayr keeper Graham again came to the rescue when he first beat away a fierce shot from Thistle’s No 7 and did even better to punch the ball away a second time as the Ayr goal was under real threat. A fine first time reaction from Ayr’s keeper had protected the slender one goal lead.
Ayr then thought they had won a penalty kick when a good interchange between striker McGinty and midfielder Ferguson saw the latter go down under a challenge in the Thistle box but again the official waved play on.
Ayr skipper Ross Love was next to make a terrific recovery tackle on the Thistle No 9 who had muscled his way into the box and found a yard of space.
The game had now begun to stretch and chances were being created at both ends of the pitch.
Thistle again went close when Ayr’s central defenders found themselves man for man with Thistle’s two frontmen but the No 7’s effort flew wide.
Ayr were then forced into a change when centre back Hamish Brown was forced off with injury.
Ayr adjusted to this blow by pushing full back Aidan Moffat into the middle beside Ross Love and bringing on full back Logan Angus.
As the game reached the last quarter Ayr had two good chances to extend their lead.
Firstly, Euan Griffiths made a great interception in midfield and had the option to either play in Joy Goma or Owen McGinty as Ayr had a three v one situation. Goma was the choice but as the winger attempted to come inside his marker before shooting, the chance was lost as the defender made a fine recovery tackle. Minutes later Ayr could have put the game to bed when Owen McGinty cleverly played striker Daniel Wamuziri in with the keeper to beat but again a touch too many in front of goal saw the keeper save well from the forward’s shot.
With the clock ticking down Ayr replaced winger Joy Goma with midfielder Ryan Hannah in an effort to see the match out. Six minutes injury time seemed an eternity until the referee blew his whistle for full time.
Final Score : Ayr United 1 Partick Thistle 0
Ayr Head Coach John Crawford was understandably pleased with the final scoreline resulting in three very welcome points which took his team above Thistle in the league table. Crawford said, ‘An important win tonight and one where the players really dug deep to ensure a vital three points. Crawford added, ‘We can certainly pass the ball much better than we did tonight but we managed the game well and stuck together as a team in the more difficult moments. A clean sheet, good defensive work, an excellent goal and three points means a very good night’s work’.
Ayr United : Graham, Moffat, Brown, Love, Bilham, Griffiths, Barker, Wamuziri, Ferguson, Goma, McGinty.
Subs : Angus, Laurie, Hannah, Nohar, Jeans, Kirkland.