League duty resumed this week with Ayr taking on Raith Rovers at Somerset Park. Both teams were involved in League cup action in midweek and it was mixed results for the two sides.
Ayr pulled off a major scalp by defeating Inverness, while Raith were knocked out by Airdrie United which John McGlynn branded ‘absolutely disgraceful’.
Brian Reid’s men have already beaten the Kirkcaldy side this year with a fine 3-0 victory in the Ramsdens Cup. Goals from Roddy Paterson, James McKernan and Ross Robertson were enough to see the Rovers off. Despite their poor cup form, Raith were unbeaten in their first three league games and found themselves second in the league table.
The Honest men on the other hand have struggled to turn good performances into points and were looking for their first three points of the campaign.
The Ayshire side go into the match without the suspended Martyn Campbell while Raith had concerns over Iain Williamson and Reece Donaldson. Both players made it for the Fife side and Stuart Duff came in for Martyn Campbell as a trialist.
Ayr started the stronger of the two sides, veteran Mark Roberts played a delightful ball to Michael McGowan who could only fire his shot into the onrushing David McGurn. Ayr twice came close to opening the scoring, Michael Moffat and Eddie Malone both had efforts but neither could find the back of the net.
Another lovely Ayr move saw James McKernon clip the ball wide to McGowan who floated it in for Gareth Wardlaw but the big striker could only header it tamely wide.
But the Ayr fans didn’t have long to wait for the first goal of the match. Michael McGowan once again tormenting the Raith defence, delivered a fine ball for Michael Moffat to have the simple task of poking the ball home. It was no more than the Ayshire team deserved and it got from bad to worse for the Fifers as Ross Callachan was sent off for a wild challenge on Mark Roberts.
And so with Rovers a goal down and a man down, the Ayr fans were looking forward to a comfortable victory. Raith though had other ideas as their team actually began to play a lot better after going down to ten men. And although their strip was unbearably ugly, the Raith fans enjoyed an attractive equaliser.
Joe Hamill did remarkably well to wriggle through the Ayr defence before playing a one-two with John Baird and then placing his shot low into the bottom right hand corner.
It wasn’t what the hosts expected but that didn’t dampen the mood of the Ayrshire barmy army. Their exuberance was clear for all to see, but were soon in trouble for their behaviour. The stewards having to extinguish a flare that was set off but the second half sadly did not reflect the drama in the terraces.
Ayr had the bulk of possession, but could not convert it into any decent chances. Brian Graham for Raith was the first to carve out a real chance in the second half. The former Morton man did brilliantly to cut inside but angled his shot by the left hand post.
The last quarter of the game was to prove very entertaining as both sides had chances to nick the game. Andy Geggan saw his header come off the bar while Allan Walker had his effort well parried by Kevin Cuthbert.
Just when it looked like the Fife side would hang on for the draw, particularly after a fine David McGurn performance, the hosts stole all three points with a last-minute winner. James McKernon did well to clip the ball into the box and there was substitute Ross Robertson to head home from 10 yards out. It was maybe a little harsh on the fifers but both teams could argue that they did enough to win it.
Ayr manager Brian Reid was delighted to come away with the win: “I thought it was going to be one of those days but we huffed and we puffed and we got the goal we deserved. I think it’s sometimes harder to play against 10 men but we defended well and created enough chances to win it.”
John McGlynn was in reflective mood after seeing his side lose a painful last-minute goal: “We still tried to play football despite going down to ten men. We didn’t just sit back and we created some great chances but we are disappointed to lose it as i feel we deserved a point.”
Mark Roberts added: “We are delighted to get the three points and although we didn’t play our best, we did enough to get the win. That win sets us up nicely and gives us confidence going into our next game.”