SPFL League One: AYR UNITED 2 DUNFERMLINE 4: Date 21/12/13
The Pars returned to Somerset Park just two weeks after playing out a 1-1 draw there in the William Hill Scottish Cup. Jim Jefferies made two changes from the team that drew with Forfar Athletic the previous Saturday; Allan Smith dropped to the bench making way for Stephen Husband and Kerr Young found himself sub as 17 year old Lewis Martin was brought in for his starting debut.
There were three changes to the Pars team that faced Ayr in the Scottish Cup ten days ago and Mark Roberts made two to his although it was unchanged from the team that lost to Rangers in the intervening match. Heavy rain through the morning caused some concerns for the pitch which was forked for a while during the warm up. Gusting wind possibly created the bigger problem. If the wind got worse then it would be impossible to play football.
The hosts kicked off with the wind behind them through Kevin Kyle and Michael Moffatt attacking the goal in front of the hundred travelling supporters sheltering in the standing area. In the conditions you would have expected a shoot on sight policy but when Ryan Wallace was given the first opportunity he chose to lay the ball off for Alex Whittle and his weight was too strong.
It was on nine minutes before either keeper was brought into action and it was Ryan Scully who had to stop a Kyle header as he flicked on a ball towards the edge of the box by Gordon Pope. The next minute Dunfermline won a free kick on the left that was within Husband's range but he powered it over the bar.
Scully was made to save again when Kyle tried a speculative shot from distance and then tempers were raised when Josh Falkingham was taken down 25 yards out. After a few handbags, the Pars captain was given a severe ticking off from referee Stevie O'Reilly. Husband took the free kick but again his sights were set too high.
Ayr had certainly got the message to shoot on sight and in 17th minute Brian GILMOUR did exactly that. Scully could only wave at the ball as it caught in the wind and dipped in from a shot launched from just inside the Ayr half. 1-0
The home side followed that up with a dangerous free kick into the Pars box and the Pars reaction was a shot from 20 yards by Wallace that was blocked. The keeper then had to dive to his left to hold a Falkingham effort from the same distance after a free kick in from the right that was only half cleared.
Then in 26 minutes the wet pitch caught out Williamson with his underhit pass back to Scully and Michael MOFFAT was able to nip in and stick the ball away. 2-0
Dunfermline went forward and after exchanges in front of goal it was Andy Geggan who took the chance to shoot but it was deflected behind for a corner on the right. That came to nothing as the Fifers struggled to produce the kind of football that the conditions demanded. Playing in such swirling wind the home side's tactics appeared to be working better.
There were appeals for a penalty five minutes from half time when Craig Malcolm and Falkingham clashed inside the box on the right. No award but Wallace got yellow carded. Then in 44 minutes Williamson got up the right and cut back from the byeline. Wallace fed the ball out of the box for HUSBAND to smash the ball home. 2-1
The goal came just at the right time and the interval would allow Jim Jefferies to dictate what tactics he would like in the second half with the advantage of the wind and in such terrible conditions.
Half Time: Ayr United 2 Dunfermline 1
The second period started and the Pars were faced with a swirling wind rather than constantly on their backs. In the atrocious conditions more goals could be expected. In fifth minute of the half Whittle did really well to beat off the challenge of two opponents and cut back the ball for Wallace who put in a shot that came back off the crossbar.
At the other end a throw in caused problems in the Pars box and Moffat headed at the left post but from an offside position. Ayr kept up the pressure and Morris was fortunate that Martin was on hand to clear a ball that came back off an Ayr man.
Ryan Williamson made another great surging run up the right, beating his man to cross and earn a corner. Whittle sent that in and there was a scramble in the six yard box but Ayr cleared. Then in 59 minutes Whittle drove up the left and was tumbled in the box by Forrest to earn his team a penalty. Ryan WALLACE took the spot kick sending it right and under the diving David Hutton. 2-2
Then just nine minutes later Dunfermline got ahead for the first time in the game. Williamson drove forward. laid the ball off to Husband who switched play left and Falkingham just inside the Ayr half advanced. He looked like he might try a shot but instead slipped the ball for WALLACE to hit into the right side of the goal. His goal from the edge of the box was his eleventh of the season. 2-3
Wallace then came close to a hattrick after Shaun Byrne did all the hard work on the left side of the Ayr box but the home team then tried to retrieve their position with sub Kyle McAusland heading on the to right post and forcing corners despite the swirling rain and wind.
Jordan Moore replaced Stephen Husband with nine minutes remaining and had a chance with his first touch but only a corner transpired. Play got bogged down deep down the Pars right with several throw ins. Ayr then mounted a final challenge but referee O'Reilly gave Dunfermline decisions that angered the Somerset Park faithful.
It was MOORE that sent many of them home before the end as he clung on to a chance and finished Ayr off at 4-2.
AYR UNITED: David Hutton; Adam Hunter, Alan Lithgow, Scott McLaughlin (c), Gordon Pope; Alan Forrest (Kyle McAusland 63), Craig Malcolm, Blair Gilmour, Michael Donald, Kevin Kyle (Anthony Marenghi 74), Michael Moffat.
SUBS NOT USED: Robbie Crawford, Mark Shankland, Jackson Longridge, Michael McGowan, William Muir (GK).
SCORERS: Gilmour (17), Moffatt (26)
YELLOW CARD: Kyle (47), McLaughlin (58)
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully; Ryan Williamson, Callum Morris, Lewis Martin, Alex Whittle; Shaun Byrne, Stephen Husband (Jordan Moore 81), Josh Falkingham (c), Andy Geggan; Ryan Wallace, Ryan Thomson.
SUBS NOT USED: Kerr Young, Allan Smith, Craig Dargo, Faissal El Bakhtaoui, Ryan Goodfellow (GK).
YELLOW CARD: Wallace (41)
SCORERS: Husband (44), Wallace (60 pen. 69), Moore (90)
REFEREE: Stevie O'Reilly.
WEATHER: Damp, Very Windy 10C
ATTENDANCE: 643 (There were more at the game but there was a problem with the computer recording turnstile data)
NEXT MATCH: SPFL League One (away) v Arbroath
Saturday 21st December 2013, kick off 3.00pm