Ladbrokes Championship: Ayr United 4 Dunfermline 1: 25/08/18

Allan Johnston took his side to a sun kissed Somerset Park to play an Ayr United side that were undefeated in their eight matches in season 2018-2019. The Dunfermline Athletic manager made one change from the side that ran Premier League leaders so close in the previous weekend’s Betfred Cup. Andy Ryan started in preference to Myles Hippolyte.

Ayr United manager Ian McCall brought in former Hearts youth Liam Smith for the suspended former Aberdeen player, Daniel Harvey, otherwise he named a team unchanged from that which took a 3-0 win away from Dens Park the previous Saturday.

Dunfermline in their commemorative new red shirts, kicked off attacking the goal in front of the home fans. The visitors were immediately under pressure as Smith picked out Mark Kerr who fed the ball out right for Andy Geggan to pump over a cross that was turned behind for a second minute corner. The Pars defence cleared but there was an obvious early intimation of the danger Ayr could create.

This was further underlined as Ayr United took the lead after only five minutes. A simple pass picked out Michael Moffat on the left and despite the close attentions of Lee Ashcroft the former Pars striker was able to get in the cross that saw 21 year old Alan FORREST head home from 12 yards out. 1-0

It was ten minutes later before Louis Longridge fought well to steal the ball away from Lawrence Shankland and he set up James Craigen for a cross to the far side of the box but Jackson Longridge could not get his looping header on target. The home fans grew concerned as Dunfermline started to get their game together and Ryan was unlucky when he just couldn’t convert a long ball in from Danny Devine.

Lee Robinson had to come for and hold a high ball in from a free kick that had earned Devine a yellow card for a blatant foul on Forrest. Assisted by misplaced passes, there followed a spell where neither side held possession for very long.

After Jamie Adams dumped Faissal El Bakhtaoui on the left touchline, a 27 minute free kick was lobbed in by J Longridge but it was easy meat for keeper Ross Doohan. El Bakhtaoui next made a chance only to see his on target shot deflected behind off Adams. Craigen’s corner from the right was met by Devine but Doohan turned the headed effort over the bar. Unfortunately Doohan was first to the next corner sent over from the left by Craigen.

In 29 minutes Danny Devine was taken off and Myles Hippolyte introduced as the management team decided to change from a 3-5-2 formation to something more like 4-4-2. The substitute certain heated things up with both him and Geggan brought together by referee Euan Anderson and clearly told to cool it!

The home side increased their advantage with a really well taken goal in 37 minutes. Mark Durnan’s clearance was gathered by Ayr and FORREST drove forward, including Moffat with a neat interchange before driving into the box and poking the ball past the advancing Robinson. 2-0

Worse was to follow within two more minutes as SHANKLAND accepted a cross from the right edge of the Pars box to stick the ball in the bottom left corner of the net. 3-0

Nothing was coming off for the Fifers and that included a 43rd minute cross in from the left by Hippolyte that again did not trouble the on loan Celtic keeper, Doohan. Ayr had recorded a possession stat of 57% in the first half but their most significant one was three goals from three shots.

Half Time: Ayr United 3 Dunfermline 0

An early chance to get back into the game was provided by a long throw from Hippolyte. Ayr’s defending was inconclusive and when they cleared it right a further attempt to clear only lofted the ball into the Ayr six yard box where Ryan was denied his challenge by Adams but no penalty.

J Longridge was the next to be shown a yellow card after he hauled down Geggan as he threatened to get in on the Ayr right. The Fifers efforts were off target, Hippolyte just over the top and Ryan wide left.

When Kerr brought down Hippolyte a 54th minute free kick was headed away and out on the left for Hippolyte to provide another chance of a long throw into the Ayr box. Again this caused mayhem but it was a simple cross in that evaded everyone to drop for J LONGRIDGE to net in 55 minutes at the left upright. 3-1

Louis Longridge made a good run on the hour mark, linking up with El Bakhtaoui as he raced from inside his own half to get in a shot from the left side of the Ayr penalty box. Unfortunately he could not find the net.

In 62 minutes Hippolyte chipped a neat pass for Williamson on the right edge of the Ayr box and his delivery was just too high for Ryan to get his head on. Next El Bakhtaoui picked out Ryan, back to goal six yards out but he had to feed the ball back for Hippolyte to shoot but he was high.

Back at the other end the defence denied Moffat after Shankland had turned his keeper’s clearance across the face of the Pars goal. Aidan Connolly then replaced James Craigen with just over twenty minutes remaining. Another long throw from Hippolyte led to Moffat conceding a free kick on the edge of the box as he brought down L Longridge. Connolly was allowed the setpiece and it was a deflection that denied the Pars sub instant success.

El Bakhtaoui was unlucky with an aerial attempt but the visitors did seem to have the Honest Men on the back foot.

Durnan had to block an effort from Ayr sub Steven Bell but it was soon back at the other end with Connolly feeding L Longridge from the top of the D but the Pars number ten was kept out. When play switched back to the other end Shankland took advantage of a defensive mistake to lift the ball over from the right to MOFFAT at the far post for an easy 81st minute finish. 4-1

Try as they did there was no way back and the League One Champions continued their impressive form to go joint top of the Championship with Morton who defeated Ross County 2-1 at Cappielow.
AYR UNITED: Ross Doohan: Andy Geggan, Jamie Adams (c), Michael Rose, Liam Smith: Alan Forrest (Declan McDaid 78), Robbie Crawford (Steven Bell 73), Mark Kerr, (Craig McGuffie 84), Andy Murdoch: Michael Moffat, Lawrence Shankland.
SUBS NOT USED: Craig Moore, David Ferguson, Ross Docherty, Ellis Hare-Reid (GK)
SCORERS: Forrest (5, 37), Shankland (39), Moffat (81)

DUNFERMLINE: Lee Robinson: Lee Ashcroft (c), Mark Durnan, Danny Devine (Myles Hippolyte 29): Ryan Williamson, James Vincent, Louis Longridge, James Craigen (Aidan Connolly 69), Jackson Longridge: Faissal El Bakhtaoui, Andy Ryan (Kallum Higginbotham 79).
SUBS NOT USED: Joe Thomson, Matthew Todd, Lewis McCann, Cammy Gill (GK).
SCORERS: J Longridge (55)
YELLOW CARD: Devine (18), El Bakhtaoui (44), J Longridge (48)

REFEREE: Euan Anderson
WEATHER: Sunny 16C

NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship: (home) v Inverness Caley Thistle, Saturday 1st September 2018.

Half time draw: 109 won £200, 1410 won £50, 2034 won £25

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