Scottish Cup: AYR UNITED 0 DUNFERMLINE 1: 28/11/15
Third Round: Josh Falkingham and Michael Paton start in place of Ryan Wallace and Shaun Byrne. Andy Geggan (22) 0-1
Pouring rain swept across the pitch as the teams attempted to 'warm up' for this William Hill Scottish Cup tie. Manager Allan Johnston made two changes to the starting eleven that was held to a 1-1 draw the previous Saturday at Coatbridge. Michael Paton and Josh Falkingham came in for Shaun Byrne and the injured Ryan Wallace.
Ayr United manager Ian McCall also made two changes Andy Muir and Andy Graham came in for the injured Nicky Devlin and Peter Murphy while Robbie Crawford made the bench despite fears over his fitness.
The teams changed ends before the hosts kicked off attacking the goal in front of their own fans and play stopped within 30 seconds when Andy Geggan needed the physio on for a blow on his left shin. He was able to continue and it was the fourth minute when Dunfermline pushed forward but a couple of Lewis Martin throw ins deep up the right came to nothing.
Ayr forced the first corner of the match in eight minutes, it was taken short and defended but Michael Donald received the clearance and drove that on target from 28 yards out causing Sean Murdoch to tip the ball over his crossbar. Fortunately the pursuing corner created no similar problems.
The first chance that came the Fifers way was in 12th minute with Faissal El Bakhtaoui powering a shot on target and Greg Fleming pushing the effort over his crossbar. One corner followed another and from the second Geggan controlled the half cleared ball prodded it left to Marc McAusland who then sprayed his pass wide to Paton but his effort failed to hit the target.
Next Faiss made a good run and since it was into the wind kept both his head and his shot low but Fleming beat that away. Then on the right touchline Falkingham received the ball from Geggan but his attempted cross was deflected for a corner on the right.
From the 17th minute corner play was halted again after Ayr's Graham lay injured in his own box following a challenge with McAusland. There were heated words as the Ayr physio came on with Joe Cardle in the heart of the disagreement. There were cries to send him off from the home stands but referee Kevin Glancy resumed play without a word to anyone.
In 22nd minute Andy GEGGAN drove a fine left footed shot from 20 yards on the angle. The low attempt bounced in front and then hit the left goalpost and the ball rebounded in. 0-1
Ross Docherty collected the first yellow card of the game two minutes later for a foul on Cardle and from the free kick Paton made Fleming dive to the base of his right hand post to turn the ball out for a corner.
In 29th minute many in the main stand thought Alan Trouten's angled shot from the edge of the box was going to be the equaliser but Sean Murdoch dived low to his right to deny the home team. Jamie Adams was next to see the ref's yellow card for a challenge on Michael Moffat and the home players showed further signs of losing their composure.
With ten minutes to the break conditions went from really bad to horrid with the strong wind driving rain towards the Dunfermline goal. Ayr almost took advantage of those conditions when Docherty's free kick from 40 yards was tipped low and late around his left hand post by Murdoch. The Pars keeper continued to earn his weight with a cracking save from a Donald free kick again some 40 yards out but greatly assisted by the wind and rain.
Allan Johnston's men did well to get to the interval without conceding a goal because as well as facing a determined Ayr United side they were also contending with the wildest that the elements could throw at them. In the last action of the first half Geggan spread the ball out left for Cardle and when he sent a low cross into the six yard box Moffat's effort was deflected behind for a corner that there was no time to take.
Half time: Ayr United 0 Dunfermline 1
Ross Caldwell replaced Allan Forrest in the Ayr team for the restart and McCall's men set about putting pressure on the Pars. The weather had improved and Ayr found going forward slightly easier. On 50 minutes Adams fell to the ground on the edge of the Pars box as Geggan challenged and from the free kick Jordan Preston drove the free kick into the Dunfermline wall.
Five minutes later Cardle's perseverance on the left got in a cross that Paton switched on to El Bakhtaoui and with a better connection would probably have beaten Fleming with his 18 yard angled shot. Jason Talbot was then shown yellow in 58 minutes for an unnecessarily hard tackle on Ayr right back Muir just inside the opposition half.
A Docherty free kick in 61 minutes was headed on target by Graham but Murdoch efficiently plucked the ball out. Ian McCall committed his final sub with just under 30 minutes remaining; Brian Gilmour coming on for Jordan Preston.
Dunfermline then used the wind to their advantage, Geggan's big up and under ideal for Moffat to take advantage of McLauchlan's difficulties. When he centred the ball towards El Bakhtaoui, former Par Paddy Boyle headed over his own bar and from the resultant corner Cardle's wicked inswinger was just kept out by Fleming and his crossbar.
In 70th minute Crawford was yellow carded for chopping down Falkingham 22 yards out and Paton drilled the low shot from the free kick through the wall of legs only for Fleming to drop to his left and hold.
An Ayr corner four minutes later created a near thing, Falkingham's attempt to head clear travelled straight to Adams and his headed sailed narrowly wide left. Ayr turned up the heat with Gilmour's shot being blocked by McAusland and then the Ayr sub following that up with a low drive that Murdoch just fingertipped around his right post. There was no way the Somerset Park side were going out of the Scottish Cup without one almighty fight.
A Boyle throw in nine minutes from time even caused danger as it slipped through the box to Murdoch. More rain drove down from the heavens and Fleming's goal kick went high and back to drop just 22 yards out. Despite the nasty conditions Fleming was not being tested nearly enough. Martin tried a shot that was blocked but it was back to the other end for the final three minutes.
Increasing the Pars fans nervousness, Caldwell flashed a shot across the goalmouth but Cardle took the pressure off with a shot at the other end that was deflected for a 90th minute corner. In an attempt to run down the clock from that El Bakhtaoui was caught offside from Paton's short pass.
Dunfermline saw out the two minutes of added time to successfully make the Fourth Round. Home fans ironically consoled themselves with chants of "We are top of the league and you are no." Hopefully a repeat in two weeks time will put an end to that one!
AYR UNITED: Greg Fleming; Andy Muir, Gerry McLauchlan, Andy Graham, Paddy Boyle (c); Michael Donald (Robbie Crawford 55), Ross Docherty, Jamie Adams, Allan Forrest (Ross Caldwell HT), Alan Trouten, Jordan Preston (Brian Gilmour 62).
SUBS NOT USED: Craig McCracken, Shaun Newman (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Docherty (24), Adams (31), Crawford (79)
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch; Lewis Martin, Marc McAusland, Ben Richards-Everton, Jason Talbot; Michael Paton, Josh Falkingham, Andy Geggan (c), Joe Cardle, Michael Moffat, Faissal El Bakhtaoui.
SUBS NOT USED: David Hopkirk, Lewis Spence, Shaun Rooney, Shaun Byrne, Rhys McCabe, Paul Joseph Crossan, David Hutton (GK).
SCORERS: Geggan (22)
YELLOW CARD: Richards-Everton (39), Talbot (58), El Bakhtaoui (89)
REFEREE: Kevin Glancy
WEATHER: Wet, Windy 5C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes League One: (home) v Brechin City, Saturday 5th December, kick off 3.00pm at East End Park
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 22nd April, Dunfermline v Falkirk kick off 3.00pm