Fife Elite vs Ayr United 17’s
An early start this morning for the Honest Men as they travelled through to Glenrothes for an 11.00am kick off.
Fife Elite having a very good season once again proved to be tough opposition for the Somerset Parkers.
However, Ayr were to start this game extremely well and in fact completely dominated proceedings during the first twenty minutes. Two excellent chances were created early on with both Joe Barker and and Gabe Skeoch going close.
Joe Barker was prominent in a number of Ayr’s best attacking moves and was involved again when Gabe Skeoch was clearly fouled in the box by a defender. Perhaps the Ayr striker was too honest on this occasion as staying on his feet seemed to influence the official not to give a spot kick.
As good as Ayr’s start to the game had been they unfortunately conceded in 14 minutes with Fife’s first attack of the game. A corner kick flighted into Ayr’s 6 yard area saw their No 9 come from the back post across the Ayr keeper and head home from close in.
After defending set plays so well 10 days previously against Rangers, Ayr were back to inconsistent marking which was to prove damaging in this game. Ayr then had a sticky five minute period when the hosts could have gone further in front.
Slack play on Ayr’s left side allowed an easy cross to come in which fell to a Fife striker but his well struck shot was superbly beaten away by Ayr keeper Graham. Aidan Moffat then brought a good save from the Fife keeper before delivering a superb cross which just eluded two Ayr forwards.
Then, with the first half moving towards a conclusion the influential Joe Barker worked his way past several defenders before being pole axed in the penalty area. A certain penalty kick?? Not today!! The young referee perhaps feeling the pressure of a referee supervisor decided in his wisdom to wave play on. A tough one to take but one of those days where that ‘wee bit of luck’ was eluding the Honest Men.
On the balance of play Ayr could and should have been in front but scoring goals this season has proved to be a real challenge.
Half Time : Fife 1 Ayr United 0
With a positive 1st half performance, albeit with the loss of a poor set piece goal the Ayr team took the field determined to put things right.
However, within 30 seconds of the second half unbelievably repeated their first half inability to properly defend yet another set piece. This time a sloppy corner kick conceded straight from kick was to prove pivotal in the final outcome of the match. The driven ball towards Ayr’s front post area was only partially defended with the headed clearance ricocheting off a Fife player’s face and straight past Ayr keeper Graham.
This goal knocked Ayr right out off their stride and seemed to suck self belief from a number of players. Ayr made their first change on the hour mark replacing the very promising Andrew Heaney who had again produced another good performance.
Paul Smith replaced Heaney in an effort to give the opposition a different problem to deal with. However, although Ayr ‘huffed and puffed’ no real goal threat appeared. The Honest Men then made a double substitution replacing the injured Joe Barker and Aidan Moffat with strikers Danny Mitchell and Robert Frew.
Ayr reverted to a 4-4-2 set up which nearly paid dividends when Mitchell chested down a deep cross but saw his effort blocked. A headed effort may well have proved a better option on this occasion.
Ayr then nearly made the breakthrough when good interplay saw striker Gabe Skeoch go one on one with the Fife keeper who just got an all important touch to knock the ball over the top for a corner.
However, as Ayr continued to push hard for a goal they were eventually caught on the counter attack.
This time the No 14 ran off his marker and when the cross came in from Ayr’s left side he had the simplest of tasks to finish from ten yards out. Ayr then replaced Skeoch with Ferguson and Bryce with Brown for the closing stages.
Ayr keeper Graham made another very good save before Ayr centre back Ross Love got round the back and instead of heading towards goal elected a more difficult scissor kick which saw the ball go well wide of the target.
Full Time : Fife Elite 3 Ayr United 0
Head Coach John Crawford cited the loss of two soft goals from corner kicks as being crucial to the eventual outcome of the game. Crawford said, ‘The first goal came right against the run of play when we were playing well and dominating and the second goal within 30 seconds of the restart was a real hard one to take. There were two very good claims for penalty kicks in the first half and although these decisions can be game changers we also have to be honest and accept that our second half performance was as poor as the first half had been good. Conceding two goals from corners as well as drawing another blank in front of goal ultimately proved to be our downfall today.’
Ayr United : Graham, Angus, Bryce, Love, Oliphant, Griffiths, Laurie, Heaney, Barker, Moffat, Skeoch.
Subs : Smith, Frew, Ferguson, Mitchell, Brown