Ayr United 17’s at Murray Park to play Rangers 17’s
This evening’s midweek fixture saw the Honest Men travel up the A77 to play Premier League side Rangers at Murray Park.
With the rain having fallen close to kick off the Astro Pitch surface was slick and ideal for moving the ball quickly.
The home side were quick out of the traps from the off and moved the ball well in the opening stages of the game.
Rangers forced a number of corners which were well defended by the Ayr defence. However, with 15 minutes gone Ayr were forced into a change when full back Logan Angus went to ground following a challenge which caused him to fall awkwardly. A delay of 8 minutes ensued whilst Angus was stretchered off and was replaced by Lewis Nohar.
Ayr were beginning to get a toehold in the game and some good movement and runs from Joe Barker and Aidan Moffat caused the home side some problems. Although Rangers held the balance in terms of possession Ayr were holding their own and looking dangerous on the counter attack.
Andrew Heaney making his debut for the 17s played a good ball in behind and Ayr striker Gabe Skeoch was just edged out by a defender when about to shoot.
A good run by Ayr midfielder Joe Barker also nearly brought dividends for the away side but only resulted in a corner kick.
Rangers continued to press hard and just as the interval beckoned the home side took the lead in 4th minute of injury time.
A quick move down Ayr’s left side saw full back David Oliphant compete for the ball just inside the box. Although there was a coming together with the Rangers forward the linesman’s flag indicated a foul resulting in the award of a penalty kick. This seemed a very harsh decision as there appeared to be little contact. However the Rangers number 11 sent Ayr keeper Graham the wrong way and the home side a goal to the good.
Half Time : Rangers 1 Ayr United 0
The second half saw the home side take control for long spells which resulted in staunch defending from the Ayr team whose team shape was certainly put to the test.
A succession of corner kicks increased the pressure on the Ayr team but resolute defending crucially kept the score line to the single goal. Ayr keeper Graham made a number of excellent stops and the back four led by centre back Ross Love stood firm under constant pressure.
On the hour mark Ayr replaced wide midfielder Andrew Heaney with Paul Smith to try and find a way through. Smith in fact delivered a couple of useful free kicks which unfortunately came to nothing.
With quarter of an hour left Ayr replaced Aidan Moffat with Robert Frew resulting in a change of formation.
Frew went through the middle with Gabe Skeoch as Ayr adjusted to a 4-4-2 system.
In the closing stages Ayr began to cause Rangers problems and good link up play between Skeoch and Frew nearly did the trick as Frew was tackled just as he was about to shoot near the back post.
Ayr then replaced Joe Barker with Danny Wamuziri as they went all out for an equaliser. Another corner was forced and this time centre back Ross Love rose to send a strong header just past the keeper’s left hand post.
Paul Smith then brought a decent save from the Rangers keeps with a good effort from twenty yards out. Some good defending from Rangers in the closing minutes proved crucial as Ayr finished strongly but just fell short of the all important goal which just wouldn’t come on this occasion.
Full Time : Rangers 1 Ayr United 0.
Head Coach John Crawford felt his team had competed well throughout against a top quality side. Crawford said, ‘On the night our attitude, commitment and desire could not be questioned. We are disappointed to lose the game and particularly through what appeared to be a ‘rather harsh award’ of a penalty kick. We were under the cosh for the first half hour of the second half but held firm and finished strongly which is testament to the players’ excellent fitness levels.’ Crawford added, ‘There were occasions when we needed to keep the ball a bit better and show a little more composure with our final ball. However, we also need to look at the quality of opposition and acknowledge the performance of our own team in what is always a difficult place to go.’
Ayr United : Graham, Angus, Bryce, Love, Oliphant, Griffiths, Laurie, Heaney, Barker, Moffat, Skeoch (Cap).
Subs : Smith, Frew, Nohar, Wamuziri, Brown.