SPFL League One: AYR UNITED 0 DUNFERMLINE 1: 10/10/14
Jim Jefferies team made the trip to Somerset Park on Friday night in the final fixture of the first diet of the League One schedule. Ross Forbes and Chigozie Ugwu made way for return of Lewis Spence and Faissal El Bakhtaoui. Lewis Martin was still absent on international duty with Scotland U19s in Lithuania.
Ayr United made one change from the side defeated at Peterhead the previous Saturday, defender Peter Murphy coming in to replace striker Craig Beattie.
It was second placed Pars who kicked off against the third placed Honest Men with the incentive for the Fifers, pole position for at least 20 hours the prize.
Just on two minutes a mistake by Scott McLaughlin presented El Bakhtaoui with the ball and the French Moroccan took the ball into the right side of the penalty box before shooting on target but keeper David Hutton dropped down to hold the ball that was already slippery from the drizzling rain.
Three minutes later Ross Millen pumped a free kick midway into the opposition half towards Gregor Buchanan. His target headed the ball towards Michael Moffat but Hutton was out to hold. Andy Stirling won the first corner of the night but despite the rush out rush in tactic the corner was overhit and nothing came of this.
In eight minutes Ayr had a real let off as Stirling raced down the left and crossed for El Bakhtaoui. Hutton was first to the ball but failed to hold and the Pars player was unlucky to see his stab hit off the left goalpost.
From about 30 yards out, Ayr's Alan Forrest released Ayr's first shot at goal and Scully held after the shot deflected off Buchanan. In 16 minutes there was a yellow card shown to Ayr's Brioan Gilmour after he took out Spence virtually under the nose of referee Euan Anderson.
A 19th minute corner on the left gave Millen another opportunity to pick out Buchanan as he broke out of the ring but although he got a touch, the former Airdrieonians man could not get direction on his header. Williamson got forward for the first time three minutes later and forced Nicky Devlin into conceding another corner. This time when Millen sent the ball over from the left Buchanan got a free header but the ball crashed over the bar.
Ayr responded with left winger, Michael Donald flashing a cross through the Pars six yard box with Donnelly closest to getting a touch. Next on 28 minutes Jon Paul McGovern put a cross in from the right and Scully successfully took that.
Dunfermline were to take the lead in 29 minutes when Moffat pressure on an Ayr player 30 yards forced him to clear the ball straight to EL BAKHTAOUI. The 21 year old took a touch before smashing into the top right of the net from the edge of the box. 0-1 Stupidly he collected a yellow card for the celebration that he always comes up with.
Donald nearly got the perfect reply with a shot that Scully could only parry and Millen swept up hastily to deny the home side an equaliser. Instead the Pars almost scored a second. First Williamson flashed the ball through in front of goal with Stirling coming close, then when Buchanan was unchallenged he got close enough to power an effort on target only for a defender's rear to block the shot. Stirling got a chance from the follow up and another just moments later that he hit wide left.
The home support were full of complaints about their team and rightly so as Spence walked through the middle in 40th minute to test Hutton with a fierce shot that was turned behind for a corner on the right.
The Fifers continued to dominate right up to the half time whistle and you had to feel that they should have been further ahead at the interval.
Half time: Ayr United 0 Dunfermline 1
Ayr looked lively from the restart, winning their first corner of the match after just 65 seconds. It was taken short and quick, picking out Kevin McKinlay who drove the ball high and wide left.
A second Ayr corner in 50th minute was not cleared and Murphy had his shot turned behind for another corner by Scully at the base of the left post. The corner was sent over into the six yard box and Scully had to pull off a fine save to keep out a McKinlay header.
The home side looked a transformed team and Jim Jefferies made his first substitution replacing Andy Stirling with Alex Whittle in 52 minutes and then being forced into another four minutes later when Urquhart went down injured. Chigozie Ugwu came on, Ross Millen moved into the centre of defence and Whittle took over at left back.
Ayr continued to create chances with Williamson having to put in a very timely block to prevent Beattie scoring. Buchanan had two sturdy headers out of his own box and then Beattie rocketed a shot into the left sidenetting.
In 65 there was a some respite for the Pars defence when Whittle got up the left to send over a cross that El Bakhtaoui gathered only to crash the ball on to the crossbar. There were appeals for a penalty as the ball appeared to hit McKinlay on the hand.
Three minutes later Millen's free kick travelled through the box with Buchanan just failing to get the necessary touch. It did look as though the Pars had weathered the storm and El Bakhtaoui made Hutton hold another on target shot.
Fifteen minutes from time a free kick on the right edge of the Pars box presented McGovern to send over a dangerous ball. With the Ayr players buzzing back and forward, Williamson got to the delivery first.
Slane's cross won Ayr another corner off Whittle and the visiting defence had more to do. Andy Geggan replaced Moffat as the clock ran down. Ayr had tried hard to make a breakthrough and from an 87th minute free kick Murphy got another great chance. He wound up before shooting low and hard beating Scully but Buchanan cleared off the line.
Sub Dale Shirkie had a snapshot after a loose clearance from Byrne as the Pars clung on. A McLaughlin foul on El Bakhtaoui took the pressure off again. Spence sent the ball wide to Williamson and he made ground before threading the ball in to the near post where Geggan was just denied by a defender who turned the ball behind.
There were a few minutes killed in at the corner flag, but Ayr had one final effort when Scully held Murphy's skied ball before after over four minutes of added time it all came to an end. The travelling support left in full song and the players all dwelt to celebrate the win that takes Dunfermline Athletic to the top of the league.
AYR UNITED: David Hutton; Nicky Devlin, Peter Murphy, Scott McLaughlin, Kevin McKinlay; Alan Forrest (Dale Shirkie 70), Paul Slane, Brian Gilmour (Robbie Crawford 78), Jon Paul McGovern, Michael Donald; Ryan Donnelly (Craig Beattie 52).
SUBS NOT USED: Andrew Muir, Peter McGill, Josh McArthur, Shaun Newman (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Gilmour (16), Slane (25)
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully; Ryan Williamson, Gregor Buchanan, Stuart Urquhart (Chigozie Ugwu 56), Ross Millen; Shaun Byrne, Lewis Spence, Josh Falkingham, Andy Stirling (Alex Whittle 52); Faissal El Bakhatoui, Michael Moffat (Andy Geggan 82).
SUBS NOT USED: Ross Forbes, Ross Drummond, Chemin Sorel, Ryan Goodfellow (GK)
SCORERS: El Bakhtaoui (29)
YELLOW CARD: El Bakhtaoui (30), Falkingham (82), Buchanan (87)
REFEREE: Euan Anderson
WEATHER: Rain 12ºC
NEXT MATCH: SPFL League One (home) v Forfar Athletic, Saturday 18th October 2014, kick off 3.00pm
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