Ayr 18’s travelling through to the capital city to play Hearts at the Oriam National Performance Sports Centre
Friday evening saw the final league fixture of 2018 with Ayr travelling through to the capital city to play Hearts at the Oriam National Performance Sports Centre. Ayr suffered a pre-match blow losing centre back Blair Richardson to injury in the warm up.
Richardson was replaced by young defender Declan McFadyen who who was to go on and have a fine game beside captain Ross Love.
As expected Hearts proved to be a technically proficient team moving the ball quickly and Ayr had to be fully focused to keep their opponents at bay.
However, although Hearts had more of the ball in the opening stages of the game it was in fact Ayr who produced the better chances.
With Joy Goma playing through the middle for Ayr he proved a real handful for the home team’s defenders using his physique and pace to good effect. Goma disposed the Hearts centre back and although his first touch took him wider than he would have wished his cross ball just evaded Owen McGinty at the edge of the penalty box.
Hearts however forced several corners and from one of those took the lead on twenty minutes. As the ball was flighted into the Ayr box it appeared a simple enough cross to be defended and Ayr may feel they should have done better as the ball was forced in from close range.
Ayr then suffered a further injury blow when Owen McGinty had to be replaced due to a foot injury.
Kaylum Ferguson came on to replace McGinty and was to play his part later in the match to good effect. Ayr played with an intensity throughout the half and had more than matched their opponents as the interval arrived.
Half Time : Hearts 1 Ayr United 0
However, when the second period resumed Ayr failed to deliver the same level of intensity and this allowed the home side too much space all over the pitch.
Nine minutes into the second half and Ayr fell further behind. This time Ayr keeper Graham was left exposed but made an excellent stop from point blank range from the Heart’s striker.
As the ball broke, disappointingly none of Ayr’s defenders could get a clearance in and the Hearts player had a simple task to finish from close range.
A mountain to climb now and further compounded by an injury to full back Kinlay Bilham who was replaced by promising defender Alex Jeans. Jeans was to have another solid performance building on his recent promotion to the 18s.
As the second half progressed Ayr still carried a goal threat particularly on the counter attack with Joy Goma and Logan Angus showing up well.
Then a real blow on seventy minutes when from an Ayr throw in deep in their opponents’ territory the home side this time punished them on the counter.
A loose cross field pass was intercepted and as the ball came in from wide a strong finish at the back post meant Ayr were now three goals behind.
Robbie Laurie returning from injury replaced Aaron Miller in midfield as Ayr switched to a more traditional 4-4-2 set up.
Miller who had a fine game in holding midfield is yet another promising young player on the Academy’s conveyer belt of talent. With Miller now off Andrew Heaney took on the responsibility of anchoring Ayr’s midfield and demonstrated the progress he is currently making having also been promoted to the 18s some months ago. Ayr made a further substitution as captain Ross Love suffered a foot injury and was replaced by centre back Hamish Brown also returning from injury.
With 85 minutes played Ayr finally made the break through with a well worked goal on the counter attack.
Logan Angus did well to surge forward from halfway and win the ball from a Hearts defender. The ball was quickly switched from left to right and when Kaylum Ferguson’s pass came into Joy Goma a good first touch created space for the striker to rifle the ball past Heart’s international keeper.
Two minutes later and Ayr had their opponents really rattled as again good lead up play saw striker Joy Goma downed in the box and a penalty kick awarded. With normal penalty kick takers Ross Love and Owen McGinty off injured Kaylum Ferguson took the responsibility and duly sent the keeper the wrong way and it was game on! In the closing minutes the home side were holding on but unfortunately on this occasion Ayr ran out of time.
Full Time : Hearts 3 Ayr United 2
Head Coach John Crawford was pleased with a fine first half where the team produced a high level of intensity and more than matched their Elite League opponents. Crawford felt however that the first twenty five minutes of the second half was where the game was lost. The coach said, ‘We gave Hearts too much space to play in the opening period of the second half and were punished for that drop in intensity. However, the players should be praised for yet another strong finish to the game and scoring two very well worked goals’.
Ayr United : Graham, Moffat, McFadyen, Love, Bilham, Heaney, Miller, Smith, Angus, Goma, McGinty.
Subs : Ferguson, Laurie, Brown, Jeans, Burns.