Ladbrokes Championship: Dunfermline 0 Ayr United 1: 04/01/20
The opening league match of 2020 saw Mark Kerr’s Ayr United as the first foots. It was fifth against fourth and a great incentive for Dunfermline was that three points would see them leapfrog their opponents.
Stevie Crawford started his on loan signing from the previous day, Aberdeen’s Ethan Ross and Danny Devine returned to the team. Josh Edwards and Joe Thomson dropped you the bench in a side otherwise unchanged from that defeated by Alloa Athletic the week before.
Ayr United also made two changes to their line up Ross Docherty, Mark Kerr being preferred to Michael Moffat and Jordan Houston.
Pre match Sammy The Tammy wearing no.4 paid tribute to the late Norrie McCathie who died tragically 24 years ago. The teams changed ends before the Pars kicked off attacking the goal in front of the home fans.
The first real danger was created by the Pars new boy, Ross, who made ground down the left before delivering a fourth minute ball through the Ayr box. Ryan Dow returned the ball but too close to keeper Ross Doohan who held.
The first attempt on goal came three minutes later. Dow and Paton exchanged passes before the latter flighted the ball on from the right. The defence cleared only as far as Kyle Turner whose effort from just outside the box narrowly cleared the crossbar.
Pressure was maintained with Lewis Martin feeding Kiltie and his cross from the left was met by Turner but his aim was wide left. A poor clearance from Doohan allowed Dow an opportunity but he could not satisfy the crowd’s howls to shoot. Instead he found Ross on the left and Andy Geggan was yellow carded for his 11th minute man handling of the eighteen year old.
Turner would hit the right post with the resultant free kick 35 yards out. Alan Forrest was able to push forward and when Ayr forced a free kick on the left touchline, Stephen Kelly’s delivery wasn’t headed over off the bar by Geggan.
At the midpoint of the first half Dow played the ball off Nisbet to run on and cross from the right byeline, unfortunately Geggan intercepted. Next Kiltie teeded up Nisbet but his effort from the edge of the box was blocked and quickly after that Kiltie fired a shot narrowly wide left from 20 yards out.
Dunfermline continued to make the better chances and in 27 minutes Kiltie sent Nisbet through on the left side but he was closed out and unable to get a shot away. Six minutes later Kiltie sent Nisbet through in the left side of the Ayr box but this time the striker’s shot was saved by the keeper’s left foot. Almost immediately the keeper had to watch a Kiltie effort flash past him but beyond the right upright.
When Dow dispossessed an Ayr player Kiltie was unlucky to see his low 36th minute shot held by Doohan. Two minutes later Ayr United scored the opener. Forrest burst through on the left and his shot towards goal was touched past Ryan Scully by Craig MOORE. 0-1
There were further opportunities one each before the break. Ross kinked his way into the Ayr box but then had his on target shot blocked while at the other end Forrest sent on another dangerous ball that Geggan almost got in to convert at the far post.
The half time stats were grossly misleading, 66% Ayr possession, since it really felt like it had been a good first half performance from the Fifers. They had managed 10 shots to Ayr’s four on a half where Kiltie in particular tortured the Ayr defence.
Half time: Dunfermline 0 Ayr United 1
The visitors restarted strongly with Forrest on the right creating particular danger. It was a low cross from him that Moore met but turned outside the near post. Both sides made early substitutions. Ayr withdrew Andy Geggan to introduce Jordan Houston while Ryan Dow was replaced by the Pars in favour of Joe Thomson.
Nisbet won a 59th minute free kick 24 yards out in a central position and when he hit the shot it deflected for Doohan to gather. Lewis McCann replaced Ethan Ross and with virtually his first touch his shot forced what was to be the only corner of the game. Unfortunately that changed nothing.
Ayr were doing everything to run the clock down but Kelly brought a save out of Scully in 70 minutes with a low shot from 25 yards out. Three minutes later the Pars keeper came rushing out in an attempt to beat Moore to a long through ball. Neither knew the offside flag had been raised and both physios had to come on to treat the injured players.
Four minutes were consumed after Scully was okay to continue and Moore limped off to be replaced by former Par Michael Moffat.
Matt Todd was the final substitution taking the place of Kyle Turner with eight minutes remaining. Kelly made Scully save a low 87th minute drive. There remained no way through the Ayr defence and after five successive home wins Dunfermline had now lost the two over the Festive period.
A good start for 2020 for Ayr United who move up to third place with their three points.
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully: Aaron Comrie, Lee Ashcroft, Lewis Martin, Josh Edwards: Paul Paton (c), Kyle Turner (Matt Todd 82), Ethan Ross (Lewis McCann 65): Ryan Dow (Joe Thomson 56), Kevin Nisbet, Greg Kiltie.
SUBS NOT USED: Gabby McGill, Euan Murray, Josh Edwards, Cammy Gill (GK)
AYR UNITED: Ross Doohan: Andy Geggan (Jordan Houston 54), Aaron Muirhead, Steven Bell, Daniel Harvie: Alan Forrest, Ross Docherty, Mark Kerr, Luke McCowan (Craig McGuffie 62), Stephen Kelly, Craig Moore (Michael Moffat 77).
SUBS NOT USED: Mark McKenzie, Sam Roscoe, Kris Doolan, Ellis Hare-Reid (GK).
SCORERS: Moore (38)
YELLOW CARD: Geggan (11), Docherty (82).
REFEREE: Mike Roncone
WEATHER: Rain 9C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship (away) v Morton, Saturday 11th January 2020, kick off 3.00pm at Cappielow