Ayr travelled northwards to Perth
Ayr travelled northwards to Perth for the Friday afternoon kick off in good spirits following their opening win last week against Morton.
However, if the away side thought they were in for a comfortable afternoon their hosts had other ideas. Ayr found the going tough in the opening stages as St Johnstone moved the ball and their opponents around the pitch with ease.
Ayr were struggling to make any real inroads into the half on a day when their passing and possession of the ball were well below normal standard. There had been a couple of early warnings for the away side with St Johnstone going close and it was no real surprise when they opened the scoring in 18 minutes.
A short corner on Ayr’s left side was poorly defended and when the ball was cut back the Saints striker had a relatively easy job to side foot the ball home.
In 28 minutes Ayr suffered a blow when forward Kaylum Ferguson had to be replaced due to a heavy head knock. Robbie Laurie duly replaced Ferguson on Ayr’s right hand hand side.
The away side continued to struggle to get a proper toehold in the game particularly in midfield where the movement and rotation of the home players was causing all kinds of problems.
However, as often happens in football it only takes a second to score a goal and new signing Joy Goma came up ‘with the goods’ in the 40th minute. A throw in from Kinlay Bilham on Saints right hand side was controlled by Goma who then spun quickly and unleashed a strong shot from 20 yards which simply flew past the home keeper.
Half Time : St Johnstone 1 Ayr United 1
Ayr came out for the second half determined to improve on the lethargic, lack lustre first period and certainly in the early stages at least looked more positive.
A couple of early attacks looked promising and the away side carried more of a threat going forward.
Ayr’s pressing improved somewhat which allowed them more possession of the ball. Ayr then replaced midfielder Joe Barker with Paul Smith who slotted in behind the main striker.
Ayr finally took the lead on 68 minutes when after good perseverance from Robbie Laurie on the right, saw his deep cross head towards the back post area. Ayr’s Joy Goma read the script well as he leapt high to head the ball strongly past the Saints’ keeper.
Ayr now had their noses in front and as St Johnstone pushed forward in search of a leveller the game began to stretch. Paul Smith was causing some problems for the home defence as he picked up the ball in small pockets of space. Saints’ right back was then very fortunate to stay on the pitch for a crunching straight leg tackle on Joy Goma which had the Ayr winger on the ground for several minutes.
A yellow card seemed lenient to say the least! Ayr almost put the game to bed in 75 minutes when Joy Goma just failed to get a touch to a long ball with the home keeper just getting there first. However, the closing 15 minutes saw Ayr come under the cosh’ as Saints continued to press forward.
A couple of good defensive blocks from centre backs Richardson and Ross Love prevented goal scoring opportunities. With 7 minutes left Ayr also looked to ‘have got away with’ what must have been a close call by the referee not to award a penalty kick after a Euan Griffiths challenge in the box.
Ayr continued to defend stoutly as the pressure increased and just when it looked as if they had weathered the storm their goal was finally breached in the 88th minute.
The ball was worked across to Ayr’s left hand side where Saints’ wide player hit what appeared to be a deep cross towards the back post. The ball however sailed straight over Ayr keeper Burns into the top left hand corner of his goal. A ‘fluke goal’ almost certainly yes but on the day it was hard to argue that a draw was probably a fair result.
Full Time : St Johnstone 2 Ayr United 2.
Head Coach John Crawford was understandably disappointed with the team’s overall performance which fell way below that of the previous week. Crawford said, ‘Today was a huge wake up call for our players in terms of the intensity and tempo required to win matches at this level. Too many players on the day were well below their best and this undoubtedly contributed to the overall team performance.’ Crawford added, ‘We must work hard this coming week at training and show immediate improvement next week at home to Inverness Caledonian Thistle’.
Ayr United :
Burns, Moffat, Richardson, Love, Bilham, Griffiths, Heaney, Barker, Ferguson, McSkeane and Goma.
Subs : Smith, Laurie, Angus, Brown, McFadyen.