Ayr United welcomed Falkirk to Somerset Park with both teams looking to build on last week’s good results. Ayr held on for a respectable draw against Dundee, a Michael Moffat header put them in front but Jake Hydes first half equaliser denied the Honest men their first league win. Falkirk meanwhile, got their first points on the board with a 2-1 win over Partick Thistle. Goals from Farid El Alagui and Kallum Higginbotham were enough to see the Jags off.
Both sides hoped to find similar form today, but would have to do so with a number of changes to their sides. Injury problems plagued both, as Alan Trouten and Gareth Armstrong missed out for Ayr. Eddie Malone returned and Michael Moffat made his first start. Falkirk had Steven Kingsley struggling, but the aptly named “Bairns” welcomed back some much-needed experience in the form of Darren Dods, Mark Millar also returned from suspension. 16-year-old Craig Sibbald replaced fellow youngster Dale Fulton as Falkirk hoped to continue their fine record against Ayr at Somerset Park.
The Bairns have been beaten just once in their last nine encounters at Somerset Park, something Steven Pressley would have been buoyed by. Brian Reid on the other hand believes that the Ayrshire team could “take heart” from their recent results, as well as gain belief that they can compete at this level.
So all was set then for an intriguing encounter and it was the visitors who came out the quicker. A clever Mark Millar corner nearly fooled the hosts but the Ayshire men held firm.
However the Honest men could not keep the Bairns out for long, as Farid El Alagui slipped Kallum Higginbotham through and the frontman shimmied between two defenders before expertly slotting his effort into the bottom right hand corner.
The Bairns nearly found themselves two up when John Robertson carelessly gave possession away to Kal Higginbotham who fed through El Alagui, but the big number nine could only scuff his shot past the left hand post.
It was all Falkirk in the opening stages and they were again through on goal, but David Weatherston failed to control Higginbotham’s chipped through ball.
Just when it looked like Falkirk would extend their lead, the Honest men conjured up a goal from nothing. Michael McGowan released the marauding John Robertson who beautifully clipped the ball back post for Gareth Wardlaw to head home from 5 yards.
With that goal, came sustained pressure from the Ayrshire side. John Robertson at the centre of things once more as his freekick found its way through to Andy Geggan but his shot was smartly saved by keeper Michael McGovern.
The game was now end to end and it was Falkirk who nearly restored their lead. Mark Millar whipped in a fine cross for El Alagui but his header rattled off the crossbar. The Moroccan didn’t have long to wait to get his first goal of the game though when he latched onto a Kieran Duffie long ball, using his strength to hold off Chris Smith and gently poked the ball past the onrushing Kevin Cuthbert.
It was no more than the superstitious striker deserved as he celebrated his goal by kissing his lucky coin. And so the two teams went in at the break with everything to play for in the second half.
Ayr came out the brighter and had a dangerous corner only half cleared, the ball eventually breaking to Michael McGowan who dinked the ball back post for Eddie Malone to volley high and wide. Ayr’s increasing pressure was soon rewarded when Darren Dods gave away a needless foul. From the resulting freekick Eddie Malone stepped up to curl the ball home from fully 25 yards.
Just when it looked like the home side would go on to dominate, Martyn Campbell was twice denied by keeper McGovern, the home side had to fight out the remaining 18 minutes without the big central defender, as he was booked for a second bookable offence.
Almost immediately, the Bairns nearly took advantage of the man difference as Higginbotham volleyed his effort off the post. The woodwork was again struck in the 80th minute when Rhys Bennett waltzed through the Ayr defence before thundering his shot off the left hand post.
After a couple of half chances for Ayr, the Falkirk fans thought they had won it when Kal Higginbotham headed home Mark Millar’s freekick. Unfortunately for the Bairns though, the offside flag was raised curbing the enthusiastic celebrations.
Steven Pressley’s men felt aggrieved with the decision and Elvis was disappointed not to earn the win: “I thought it was a great advert for this league. I thought both teams tried to play football the right way. This is a difficult place to come and not many teams will come away with points here. All in all though, I was disappointed with our performance and further disappointed not to come away with the victory.”
Brian Reid was in a reflective mood after securing a point: “Again we are getting let down by schoolboy errors. Our defending needs to be a lot better if we are to do well in this league. I am encouraged by some of our performances, however we need to start turning these performances into points”
AYR: Cuthbert, J. Robertson, Campbell, Smith, Malone; Moffat, McKernan, Geggan, McGowan; Wardlaw, Roberts.
Subs: Burke, Armstrong, R. Robertson, Tiffoney, McWilliams.
FALKIRK: McGovern, Duffy, Scobie, Dods, Bennett, Murdoch, Sibbald, Millar, El Allagui, Higginbotham, Weatherston.
Subs: Wallace, Graham, D. Fulton, J. Fulton, Bowman.
Ref: Stephen Finnie
Written by David Doherty @ Somerset Park | Photos by Patrick McGuire | Ayr United-Falkirk Match Photos