Ayr 18’s vs Queens Park at Lesser Hampden
The Friday evening fixture saw Ayr heading up the A77 to play Glasgow neighbours Queens Park at Lesser Hampden.
Following a decent performance the previous week against ICT hopes were high for a positive result. This game however was to prove a very real wake up call for the Ayr players as Queen’s Park demonstrated you can take nothing for granted in football.
The Astro surface was fairly slick following heavy rainfall during the previous 24 hours and as such the weight of pass needed to be good. Ayr started well enough with a couple of decent attacks although unfortunately with no end product.
Queens had a goal rightly chalked off for offside in 11 minutes and this should have proved a warning to the away side that they faced good strikers in Nos 9 and 10. In 16 minutes this pairing linked up well to put Queens in front.
The number 9 who was already causing problems for Ayr’s central defenders with his pace and hold up play was allowed too much space to turn at the edge of Ayr’s box. The Queens striker then rolled the ball across the 18 yard box where their unmarked number 10 struck a well hit shot into the far left corner of the goal past Ayr’s keeper Graham.
Ayr showed a decent reaction to going behind when McSkeane appeared to be upended in the Queens penalty area but the official for the evening turned down the Ayr appeals. With 22 minutes gone Ayr fell further behind and again caused by another long ball.
This time Queens number 9 made a clever run between Ayr’s central defenders Richardson and Love and finished with ease from inside the box. Claims for offside were ignored and probably rightly so on this occasion.
Ayr did proceed to build some decent attacks of their own with Paul Smith prominent in these moves but again no end product for the away side. On one occasion there was a scramble inside the Queens area but the final shot was blocked by two defenders close to the goal line.
Joy Goma who had seen little of the ball had a good run past a couple of defenders before being fouled. The resultant free kick from Smith unfortunately being a little too high. However, in the 37th minute Ayr’s uncomfortable night continued when yet another long ball caused their downfall.
Again Queens number 9 did the damage this time outmuscling Ayr defender Ross Love and then hitting a spectacular shot past Ayr keeper Graham. A dismal half from the Honest Men who looked shell shocked as they headed for the dressing room at half time.
Half Time : Queens Park 3 Ayr United 0
Ayr made three changes at the interval replacing both central defenders Blair Richardson and Ross Love as well as front man Robbie Laurie.
The changes saw midfielder Euan Griffiths move to centre back and he was joined by replacement Hamish Brown in the middle of defence. Joe Barker went into midfield with Owen McGinty coming on up top.
The changes certainly gave Ayr a slightly more solid look with Brown and Griffiths marking the Queens front men more tightly than before. Ayr did start to carry a bit more threat going forward and Owen McGinty gave them a sharper edge in attack. In fact on the hour mark McGinty did well to lose his marker some 25 yards out but just as he was shaping to shoot from some 15 yards a defender made a tackle from behind and down went the Ayr striker.
This one certainly looked a ‘stick on’ penalty kick but again the official waved away claims for the award. It has to be said it did look like contact with the man first but again Ayr were to be on the wrong side of a decision. Ayr then replaced full back David Oliphant with Kinlay Bilham and Paul Smith with Logan Angus. The Ayr side were now playing with two strikers through the middle in an effort to get back into the game. However, the match was over as a contest in the 68th minute when Ayr keeper Graham passed the ball in the direction of midfielder Joe Barker. The pass appeared to be a tight one from the keeper and with Barker opening up his body to receive the ball appeared to be unaware of the Queen’s midfielder on his shoulder.
The Queen’s player won the ball from Barker and as he moved into the Ayr box had a relatively easy finish to put the game to bed. Ayr did fashion another free kick in a central area area but McGinty’s well struck shot cannoned back off the wall to safety.
Final Score : Queens Park 4 Ayr United 0
Ayr head coach John Crawford said, ‘It was a dismal showing from us on the night and there is no question we were well beaten by the end. We failed defensively to deal with the Queen’s strikers and in particular their number 9 who scored two, assisted with one and generally had a ‘field day’ in the first half.’ Crawford added ‘Whether you defend against one or two strikers, defenders have to ‘defend properly and mark their men’. On this occasion we failed to that and paid a heavy price’. Crawford did however emphasise that defending is not purely down to back four players and that midfielders and front men must also play their part. Tonight we were a collection of units and the disappointment was also the lack of leadership in the team at key moments. Players must take more responsibility on the pitch and too often in this game that wasn’t the case.’
Graham, Moffat, Richardson, Love, Oliphant, Griffiths, Heaney, Smith, Laurie, McSkeane, Goma.
Subs : Barker, Angus, Brown, McGinty, McFadyen, Bilham, Burns.