Ladbrokes Championship: Ayr United 0 Dunfermline 1: 03/12/19
This match was re-scheduled since Ayr United had three players in the Scotland Under 21 squad on the original date.
Dunfermline Athletic travelled to Ayrshire hoping for a win that would take them to fourth place in the league just two points behind their opponents. Mark Kerr’s Ayr United were without Luke McCowan who was serving a two match suspension but would have their eyes on three points to take them above Inverness Caley Thistle and into second place.
Stevie Crawford made two changes from the side that started against Partick Thistle on Saturday, Kyle Turner and Harry Cochrane coming in for Paul Paton and Andy Ryan. The bench included on loan Jambo 18 year old, Anthony McDonald for the first time.
Ayr United manager Mark Kerr brought in former Pars captain Andy Geggan for McCowan and the player/manager returned to the five strong bench. Ahead of kick off there was a one minute silence of respect for the late Bill Barr, Ayr United Chairman from 1994 to 2003.
Turner got play underway with the Fifers attacking the goal in front of the home support. It was tentative stuff from both sides for the first seven minutes with the crowd only roused by a clash of the two number 23s Cochrane and Docherty.
Patient build ups by both Ayr and Dunfermline did nothing to break the deadlock with possession lost before anything positive could come out of it. A mistake by left back Danny Harvie let Kevin Nisbet away but his ball for Tom Beadling on the left side of the Ayr box only yielded the first corner of the match after 14 minutes. Unfortunately Turner’s ball from the left failed to pick out the deep lying Lewis Martin.
Danny Devine’s push on Michael Moffat handed Ayr a free kick 28 yards out and Stephen Kelly momentarily excited the home fans when he hit the net but it was the sidenetting. In 21 minutes Ayr got closer after a Geggan break set up Craig Moore, his shot from the right was parried by Cammy Gill and the defence swept away the danger.
At the midpoint of the first half play was halted for what looked like a cut to Lee Ashcroft in the Ayr penalty box as the Pars attacked a free kick. Headband in position the Pars captain was able to continue.
Ross Doohan had to hold a 27th minute header from Nisbet after Ryan Dow had teed up Martin on the overlap for a dangerous looking cross from the left. Beadling fought for the ball on the right and Cochrane assisted when Ayr blocked but when Kiltie swung the ball over it was too long and Ayr cleared.
Turner broke on 33 minutes and picked out Nisbet on the right side of the box but Sam Roscoe blocked his shot to concede a corner on the right that Doohan held when Turner sent it in. Next minute a burst by Dow down the left was placed into the path of Turner. His shot was good but the keeper matched it.
The match had livened up and Ayr responded with Moffat racing down the right to cross into the box but Devine cleared. The hosts forced their first corner seven minutes from the interval and from Kelly on the left Aaron Muirhead scooped his shot narrowly over the crossbar.
The Fifers had the better of the possession and what chances there were, it had been stalemate in the first half and not the most exciting of matches with each side managing just three shots apiece.
Half time: Ayr United 0 Dunfermline 0
Lee Ashcroft did not return for the second half. Josh Edwards came on at left back with Lewis Martin moving to the centre of the defence alongside Devine.
The Pars first threat in the second half came from a Kiltie shot that the keeper did well to stop. Then a Beadling cross from the right was played just behind Nisbet in the centre of the Ayr box.
Moffat earned a 50th minute corner off Edwards but Dow headed away Geggan’s delivery. The 34 year old striker then collected a yellow card for tripping Dow. Dow and Beadling then pushed play deep down the right to eventually win a corner that Ayr cleared after some head tennis. The 153 strong travelling support burst into song in a rallying cry.
Ten minutes into the half a powerful run took Comrie in on the right side of the box and his cut back looked certain to be finished but somehow Turner’s effort was kept out and Doohan gathered.
The home support were showing signs of concern as they watched Dunfermline string passes together and looked the more likely to score. Nisbet got flattened in 63 minutes by Doohan as he cleared a ball skied by a defender in his own box. The Pars were penalised for pushing in their attempts to convert the cross from the right.
Again from the right Beadling sent the ball through the Ayr six yard box but it was a misplaced Ayr pass that led to Dunfermline scoring in 68 minutes. Edwards gathered the ball just inside the Ayr half, drove forward, slipped the ball left for Kiltie to cross and NISBET was nicely placed to head the ball past Doohan from close in. 0-1
and Dow combined on the right but Kiltie’s effort was wide of goal It took some great defending to keep Ayr out in 73 minutes when it looked like they just had to score. Houston next drove a low ball to the near post that Gill held.
Five minutes later Craig McGuffie came on for the home side as Michael Moffat was withdrawn. Then after Nisbet went down in 80th minute Andy Ryan became the second Pars sub. An Ayr corner was cleared by the Beadling/Devine combination and the Pars then survived another corner in 83rd minute.
The home side piled on the pressure but Edwards and then Turner got the ball away. Geggan picked up a good lay off on the edge of the box but then had his hands on his head as he over hit the pass to the overlapping Houston.
Ryan broke to roll the ball outside the far post and Gill had two outstanding saves in added time. There had been plenty to defend in the closing minutes but the Fifers were flawless and held on for three very welcome points. Up to fourth place in the Championship, the highest place since the opening fixtures of the season and a happy journey home.
AYR UNITED: Ross Doohan: Aaron Muirhead, Sam Roscoe, Jordan Houston, Daniel Harvie: Alan Forrest (Mark McKenzie 69), Andy Geggan, Ross Docherty(c), Stephen Kelly: Michael Moffat (Craig McGuffie 77), Craig Moore
SUBS NOT USED: Finn Ecrepont, Mark Kerr, Ellis Hare-Reid (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Moffat (52), Harvie (70)
DUNFERMLINE: Cammy Gill: Aaron Comrie, Lee Ashcroft (c) (Josh Edwards HT), Danny Devine, Lewis Martin: Ryan Dow, Harry Cochrane, Tom Beadling, Kyle Turner: Greg Kiltie, Kevin Nisbet (Andy Ryan 81).
SUBS NOT USED: Gabby McGill, Joe Thomson, Lewis McCann, Anthony McDonald, Ben Swinton (GK).
SCORERS: Nisbet (68)
YELLOW CARD: Beadling (45+1)
REFEREE: Euan Anderson
WEATHER: Dry 6C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship: (home) v Morton, Saturday 7th December 2019, kick off 3.00pm at East End Park.