Ayr United 0 Dunfermline 1Saturday, 23rd Feb 2019
Ladbrokes Championship: same team faces Ayr. Louis Longridge (71 pen.) 0-1:
Dunfermline Athletic travelled west to face an Ayr United team sitting second in the Championship some fifteen points ahead of them after 24 games.
Stevie Crawford named the same starting eleven that had brought him his first win as Pars boss the previous week against Inverness Caley Thistle. Following their draw at Cappielow, his counterpart Ian McCall made two changes in his Ayr United starting eleven. Out went Ross Docherty and Declan McDaid to make way for Nicky Cadden and their captain, former Par, Steven Bell.
Ian McCall warned in his programme notes that there was too much at stake for Ayr to play the free flowing football for which they had become renowned. The 130-years-old Somerset Park might only have 1500 seats but the SPFL have given the ground the green light for Premiership football. The 10000 seated capacity rule that deprived Falkirk of promotion in 2003 and saw Inverness and Gretna have to ground share with rival clubs when their stadiums fell short of the required seats was relaxed to 6000 in 2004 and removed altogether in 2013.
An accident on M8 in Glasgow delayed the arrival of the team bus, fans and several opposition players but it was the visitors in red shirts and black shorts who kicked off on a disappointingly dreich and cool day in Ayrshire. Ryan Williamson was listed as a sub but started in place of Jackson Longridge.
Ayr were presented with the first chance of the match in fourth minute. A Moffat switch across field for Liam Smith saw the ball taken up the right and when the cross was only half cleared the chance fell to Lawrence Shankland who blasted his effort narrowly over the bar from 14 yards out.
The Pars made their first chance four minutes later when Aidan Connolly trapped the ball on the left side of the Ayr box to cut back for James Vincent but since he was back to goal, he in turn laid it off to Ryan Blair on the 18 yard line but his shot was wayward.
Two minutes later Connolly slipped the ball to Blair on the left and he pinged it through the six yard box with both Bruce Anderson and Vincent getting close to getting the necessary touch. A corner ensued and before Ayr could clear Anderson almost slipped the ball in at the left post but keeper Ross Doohan smothered it.
Moffat forced a 17th minute corner and when Cadden delivered from the left it was Craigen who dispossessed Aaron Muirhead to end the threat. Five minutes later a Smith cross was deflected behind by Lee Ashcroft and at the resultant corner Moffat headed the ball over the crossbar.
Ayr were enjoying this period of possession and the Fifers were being kept well away from Doohan’s goal. A 27th minute free kick in the centre circle let Blair pump the ball in the direction of Danny Devine on the right side of the Ayr box. He was not able to get a clean touch on it but Joe Thomson latched on to the second ball to send a screamer over Doohan’s crossbar from 15 yards out.
Back came Ayr, Cadden crossed from the right and with the ball bouncing uncomfortably around the Fifers box Scully denied Murdoch from close in. Next it was Ashcroft to head away a Daniel Harvey delivery and then Devine blocking another Harvey cross.
At the other end Blair’s pass to Thomson was teed up for Anderson to try an overhead kick in 35 minutes but his direction was wrong. Scully came out clutch the second of Cadden’s 37th minute corners from the right but play was quickly back towards him with Smith drilling an effort narrowly wide.
Connolly took some of the pressure off, testing Doohan with a low 41st minute shot. It was the sixth one of the half for the visitors to Ayr’s five but the first half stats would read 58% to the home side who had forced five corners to the Pars one.
Half time: Ayr United 0 Dunfermline 0
With Partick two up at half time to league leaders, Ayr would have registered the opportunity to regain the top spot. Dunfermline with Alloa and Thistle winning would have noted the difference a win would make.
Moffat got the second half underway but within 14 seconds Anderson had Doohan diving at his feet. Cadden forced a 50th minute corner as again the visiting defence was put under pressure. From Cadden’s corner on the right, Moffat flicked the ball on but Rose drove his attempt into the ruck of defenders.
In 54 minutes Andy Murdoch’s tenacity fed the ball on to Shankland who in turn picked out Cadden on the right for a shot on the angle that Scully held. Thomson, Vincent and then a Beadling tried to create danger with crosses into the box but Ayr’s defence did its job.
Back at the other end Cadden popped up on the left to fire across a ball that Scully bravely took out ahead of Shankland. For all Ayr’s pressure Dunfermline could have taken a 61st minute lead when Connolly connected with a low Thomson ball in from the right. The Pars man met the ball at the near post but somehow Doohan kept it out.
That and a potential breakaway by Anderson raised the stakes with the home fans becoming increasingly anxious for a win. Louis Longridge replaced Aidan Connolly and the pressure continued to be exerted on the Honest Men. When Williamson cut back was handled by Michael Rose, referee David Munro awarded a 71st minute spot kick. LONGRIDGE stepped up and scored netting on the right side with the keeper going the other way. 0-1
Tom Beadling shot narrowly wide as Dunfermline continued to look the better side. The Ayr fans encouraged their team to fight back but the Pars continued to look the more likely. Anderson was blocked by Muirhead on the edge of the Ayr box but was yellow carded for the incident. That was his final involvement as Myles Hippolyte replaced him with nine minutes remaining.
When Craigen was penalised in 85 minute Ayr sub Calvin Miller launched in the free kick and from the posse of Ayr men attacking the ball it was headed narrowly wide right. Two minutes later Craigen again impeded Miller on the right, the Pars man was shown a yellow card and Miller sent another dangerous ball into the visitors box with Shankland this time crashing his connection over Scully’s crossbar.
It had been a superb second half performance from Stevie Crawford’s men to record back to back wins against top four teams. The win coupled with results elsewhere lifted Dunfermline to fifth place.
SUBS NOT USED: Ross Docherty, Chris Higgins, Mark Kerr, Ellis Hare-Reid (GK).
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully: Ryan Williamson, Lee Ashcroft (c), Danny Devine, James Craigen: Tom Beadling: James Vincent, Joe Thomson, Ryan Blair: Aidan Connolly (Louis Longridge 66), Bruce Anderson (Myles Hippolyte 82).
SUBS NOT USED: Kallum Higginbotham, Mark Durnan, Matthew Todd, Cammy Gill (GK)
SCORERS: Longridge (71 pen.)
YELLOW CARD: Anderson (81), Craigen (87)
REFEREE: David Munro
WEATHER: Cloudy 12C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship (home) v Partick Thistle Tuesday 26th February 2019, 7.45pm kick off at East End Park
Half time draw: Ticket no.1313 won £200, ticket no.1173 won £50 and ticket no.2093 won £25.
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Ayr United 0-1 Dunfermline
Sat, 23rd Feb 2019
Stevie Crawford post Ayr United
Sat, 23rd Feb 2019
Ryan Williamson post Ayr United
Sat, 23rd Feb 2019
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Preview Ayr UnitedSaturday, 23rd Feb 2019
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 23rd February 2019, 3.00pm kick off at Somerset Park
Since the turn of the year Ayr United have certainly not hit the high spots that they did in the first half of the season. Nevertheless they are still real title challengers sitting just two points behind leaders Ross County, albeit Ayr having played one more fixture.
Working with a smaller squad than some of his promotion rivals, Ayr manager and former Pars player, Ian McCall has kept his troops in the race and an important win over Dundee United and another away win at Alloa have kept the points coming in.
Usually a trip to Somerset Park holds no fears for the Pats have a great record there - indeed they had been undefeated there since 2009 - but the first league match of the season between the two saw Ayr win convincingly 4-1 with former Pars Lawrence Shankland and Michael Moffat both scoring in the match.
The Pars record versus the Honest Men shows just two defeats in the last 21 meetings.
Milestones v Ayr United (away)
Last League Victory | 12/03/16 | 2-0 | League One
Last League Defeat | 25/08/18 | 1-4 | Championship
Best League Victory | 12/03/94 | 4-0 | First Division
Worst League Defeat | 07/04/51 | 0-8 | Div Two (old)
Dunfermline have only won one of the last six meetings against Ayr United but Ayr United have only one victory to show for the last twelve Dunfermline visits to Somerset Park. In the last twelve fixtures Dunfermline have won six, drawn three and lost three.
Last Twelve League Meetings v Ayr United
Date | H/A | F-A | W D L | League
22/12/18 | H | 0-0 | D | Championship
25/08/18 | A | 1-4 | L | Championship
18/03/17 | H | 0-1 | L | Championship
07/01/17 | A | 2-0 | W | Championship
03/12/16 | H | 1-1 | D | Championship
01/10/16 | A | 0-0 | D | Championship
12/03/16 | A | 2-0 | W | League One
13/02/16 | H | 3-2 | W | League One
12/12/15 | A | 2-1 | W | League One
12/09/15 | H | 0-2 | L | League One
07/03/15 | H | 2-1 | W | League One
31/01/15 | A | 2-0 | W | League One
The sides met five times in the season before last. Dunfermline won four and Ayr United one.
The last meeting at Somerset Park
Saturday 25th August 2018
Ayr United 4 Dunfermline 1
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
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
A simple cross evaded everyone to drop for Jackson LONGRIDGE to net in 55 minutes at the left upright. 3-1
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
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)
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).
Form Last Six Matches
Inverness Caley Thistle (H) W 1-0
Ross County (H) L 1-2
Morton (A) D 0-0
Raith Rovers (A) L 0-3
Dundee United (A) L 0-1
Alloa Athletic (H) D 2-2
Morton (A) D 0-0
Alloa Athletic (A) W 3-1
Inverness Caley Thistle (H) L 2-3
Dundee United (H) W 1-0
Auchinleck Talbot (A) L 0-1
Inverness Caley Thistle (H) L 0-1
In their last nine league matches since defeating Morton 3-0 at East End Park on 1st December, the Pars have won two, drawn four and lost three. This season away wins in the league have only come at Falkirk, Alloa and Tannadice.
Ayr United were undefeated at home this season until Falkirk’s visit on 5th January. They have however lost three of their last six league games, two of them at the hands of Inverness Caley Thistle. Like Dunfermline they have won only two of their last nine league matches.
League Position: 7th
League Points: 28
Goal Difference: -6
Away League Record: P12 W4 D4 L4 GF15 GA16
Last Six League Match Form: WDLDLW
League Position: 2nd
League Points: 43
Goal Difference: +18
Away League Record: P13 W6 D4 L3 GF19 GA11
Last Six League Match Form: LLWLWD
Last time out
DUNFERMLINE (v Inverness Caley Thistle): Ryan Scully: James Craigen, Lee Ashcroft (c), Danny Devine, Jackson Longridge: James Vincent: Tom Beadling, Joe Thomson, Ryan Blair (Ryan Williamson 78): Aidan Connolly (Louis Longridge 70), Bruce Anderson (Mark Durnan 90+2)
SUBS NOT USED: Kallum Higginbotham, Myles Hippolyte, Matthew Todd, Cammy Gill (GK)
AYR UNITED (v Morton): Ross Doohan: Daniel Harvie, Michael Rose, Aaron Muirhead, Liam Smith: Robbie Crawford, Declan McDaid (Calvin Miller 68), Andy Murdoch, Ross Docherty (Nicky Cadden 69), Michael Moffat (Craig Moore 73), Lawrence Shankland.
SUBS NOT USED: Chris Higgins, Steven Bell, Jamie Adams, E Hare-Reid (GK).
Other Championship Fixtures
Falkirk v Dundee United
Inverness Caley Thistle v Morton
Partick Thistle v Ross County
Queen of the South v Alloa Athletic
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