0 - 5
0 - 5
Lawrence Shankland (3)
Lawrence Shankland (41)
Michael Moffat (78)
Lawrence Shankland (87)
Lawrence Shankland (pen.) (89)
1. Benji Siegrist
44. Paul Watson
33. Fraser Aird
3. Callum Booth
19. Rachid Bouhenna
24. William Edjenguélé
11. Billy King
12. Sam Stanton
8. Fraser Fyvie
7. Paul McMullan
14. Pavol Šafranko
Ross Doohan .1
Liam Smith .27
Steven Bell .15
Michael Rose .5
Daniel Harvie .3
Declan McDaid .11
Andy Geggan .6
Andy Murdoch .18
Robbie Crawford .8
Michael Moffat .7
Lawrence Shankland .17
34. Matej Rakovan
17. Jamie Robson
4. Frédéric Frans
2. Stewart Murdoch
20. Christoph Rabitsch
9. Craig Curran
16. Matty Smith
Ellis Hare-Reid .19
Chris Higgins .2
Craig McGuffie .12
David Ferguson .14
Finn Ecrepont .21
Ross Docherty .23
Luke McCowan .25
Matej Rakovan for Benji Siegrist (13)
Craig Curran for Billy King (46)
Craig McGuffie for Andy Geggan (86)
Finn Ecrepont for Daniel Harvie (90)
Andy Geggan (25)
Steven Bell (44)
Robbie Crawford (61)
Don Robertson (Referee)
United’s unbeaten run under new head coach Robbie Neilson came to an abrupt end after a humiliating 5-0 defeat against league leaders Ayr United at Tannadice, in what was Dundee United’s first defeat at home against the Honest Men in over 40 years.
Dundee United could have gone level on points with their opponents with a victory, but they were never at the races against Ayr, with the visitors producing a stunning performance. Four of the goals came from in-form striker Lawrence Shankland, taking his own record for the season to a scarcely believable 26 goals in 23 games.
The home side made two changes from the team which had beaten Alloa Athletic 4-2 in their last game, with captain Fraser Fyvie making a welcome return to the starting line-up. Billy King also returned to the starting eleven, and they replaced Christophe Rabitsch and Nicky Clark.
The TV match kicked off in a great atmosphere under the Tannadice floodlights in front of a healthy crowd of just over 6000, although no Dundee United fan could have been prepared for the 90 minutes which were about to unfold. The match began in a suitably inauspicious manner as the away side took the lead in the third minute of the game. Inattentive defending from Dundee United saw Daniel Harvie played down the Ayr left hand side with a quick free kick. His cross was deflected into the air over the head of William Edjenguele, and landed perfectly for Lawrence Shankland, who planted a superb header past Ben Siegrist and into the back of the net for his 23rd goal of the season.
The same player nearly grabbed a second goal a few minutes later after a pass from Andy Geggan found the striker in space in the penalty area. Shankland met the pass first time but clipped his effort just wide of the far post. Home goalkeeper Ben Siegrist was evidently struggling after that opportunity, and sure enough a hip injury forced him to be replaced by Matej Rakovan soon afterwards in another blow for the home side.
The first chance for the Terrors came in the 16th minute after a low corner kick from Fraser Aird was driven over the bar by Fraser Fyvie, but that was nothing more than a blip in a first half of almost total dominance from Ayr United. Declan McDaid fired over the bar in the 22nd minute before the same player forced a good save from substitute goalkeeper Matej Rakovan a couple of minutes later. McDaid went on a surging run into the Dundee United box and his fierce shot was well parried by Rakovan, although straight into the path of Michael Moffat, who failed to keep his first time shot down and the ball sailed over the bar.
Two minutes after that, Rakovan was called upon again to thwart Lawrence Shankland, as the Ayr striker skinned three Dundee United defenders before seeing his shot saved by the Slovakian goalkeeper. Shankland then had another decent chance on the half hour mark after again skinning both Rachid Bouhenna and William Edjenguele, and again Rakovan had to look lively to smother his low left foot drive from just inside the Dundee United penalty area.
Out of almost nothing, the home side had a great chance to equalise after 34 minutes. A good move down the right-hand side saw Fraser Aird cross pick out the unmarked Paul McMullan in the middle, but McMullan could only head the ball straight at Ayr United goalkeeper Ross Doohan, who finally got his gloves warm after over half an hour of inaction.
As the half drew on, the away side continued to look the more likely to notch the next goal, and sure enough with four minutes left of the first half the away side took a two goal lead. Again, the goal came from the Dundee United right hand side as Declan McDaid once again found space down that side. His low cross failed to be cut out by the home defence and Lawrence Shankland swept home from around four yards out to double the lead. It was the very least that the away side deserved.
There were no more goals before half time, although just before half time Fraser Fyvie tried his luck with a long range free kick, although it sailed over the bar. In an attempt to try and rescue the game, Craig Curran was brought on at half time for the rather ineffectual Billy King. It did work to a certain extent, as the home side did start the second half brightly. Their best chance of the game came early in the second half, when Fraser Aird met a deep cross from Paul McMullan at the back post, but he could only clip his volley over the bar. Soon afterwards, only a last ditch tackle on Lawrence Shankland by Paul Watson prevented a third goal after the Ayr striker had been played through on goal by a ball from Robbie Crawford.
The points should have been sealed with twelve minutes gone in the half after Michael Moffat raced clear of the Dundee United defence, but he elected to shoot rather than passing to the unmarked Declan McDaid, and Matej Rakovan was able to smother the shot with his legs to keep the home side’s faint hopes alive.
Ayr United were rather comfortable by this stage and could have got on the scoresheet again with a Shankland free kick from 25 yards out being deflected wide by the Dundee United wall. All the home side had to show for their efforts in the second half was a Paul Watson header from a Fraser Aird free kick that sailed wide of the post, and a Paul McMullan shot which went wide with fifteen minutes remaining.
The points were sealed with thirteen minutes to go, and it was a fine goal. A simple ball over the top from Andy Geggan sent Michael Moffat through on goal beyond a square Dundee United defence. The veteran striker drew Matej Rakovan before slotting a fine finish past the Slovakian goalkeeper to give Ayr United a 3-0 lead.
That was not the end of the scoring, however, as Ayr United fully exploited a home side who were utterly devoid of any belief or confidence. The away side duly scored their fourth goal with three minutes remaining. After a ball into the box was headed towards goal by the rampant Shankland, a hesitant William Edjenguele let Michael Moffat nip in between the defender and his goalkeeper to challenge for a high ball just six yards out. Trying to nullify the threat Edjenguele chose to barge Moffat into Matej Rakovan and, with no hesitation, referee Don Robertson pointed to the spot. Rakovan was able to get his hands to the spot kick from Lawrence Shankland, but the kick was so powerful that the keeper could not keep it out, and Ayr United had a 4-0 lead, with Shankland completing his hat trick.
A fifth goal was to arrive a mere two minutes later, with very few home fans still left inside Tannadice. Liam Smith played a long ball into the penalty area where Lawrence Shankland made space for himself, controlled on his thigh, before thumping home under pressure from Watson, Bouhenna and the advancing Rakovan. Shankland had his fourth goal of the night, and the Honest Men had their fifth.
The win was every bit as emphatic as the scoreline suggested, with Dundee United possibly fortunate that the score had not been even worse on the night as they struggled to cope with Ayr United’s play and Lawrence Shankland’s finishing. The defeat left Dundee United still in third place in the Championship, although now six points behind their rampant opponents.
Match report written by Derek Keilloh
|Benji Siegrist (GK)||26||12||-||12||-|
|Matej Rakovan (sub) (GK)||28||10||-||10||-|
|Craig Curran (sub)||29||12||3||12||3|
Obviously, I was very pleased to get the three points form our last game at home to Alloa. As we have seen this season, games against them have been very tough and, if we want promotion, these are the type of games where the result is more important than the performance. I said in the build-up to this these games are harder. They're harder than going up to Ross County, they're harder than tonight against Ayr because you are turning up and you are expected to win. Alloa turn up here and because they are expected not to win, they have a freedom to go and play - and that's the difference. But we answered a lot of questions. We went a goal down and could have crumbled but instead we went 2-1 up quickly, which was great. Then we go 3-1 up towards the end of the first half but lose a goal quickly and again is it was a question of seeing the game out. But we stood up strong and, eventually, got the goal that killed the game.
Throughout the course of a league season there are going to be games like that and the most important thing is we win. You are not going to play at your top level every week but, thankfully, the majority of the time so far, we have played at our top level. This was one of the games when we didn't but we still got three points. But I must add that I thought the response from the fans was magnificent. After Alloa went ahead as our players headed back for the kick-off, there was rousing cheers from the stands and that undoubtedly spurred the players on. It was a sign from them that things have changed and that was acknowledged by the players who responded accordingly. If it wasn't the performance, we were alt hoping for, but apart from one occasion when big William got a foot in to check a run, they never got in behind us. Defensively, we were alright, albeit we disappointingly lost two goals from set plays. Tonight we welcome lan McCall and his side who have had a fantastic start to the season. We, on the other hand had a difficult start, but we have managed to pick up on them in recent weeks, so it is important that we continue doing that. Tonight we have an opportunity to go joint top but if we do, well and good, but we won't get carried away because there are still a lot of points to be won or lost, so whatever the outcome, nothing will be decided this evening. Before our recent game at Ross County, I said that these games don't win you the league, but winning them does give you the confidence for whatever comes up next. Last week, I took the opportunity of seeing Ayr United in action away to Beith and then shot up to Morton v Peterhead afterwards as these were the two teams. I hadn't seen this season and of course, we are away to Morton next week. Its games like Alloa at home that will help you win a title, because these are the ones where sides slip up only drawing or losing games they are expected to win. And that makes the difference over the season. It is perfectly possible to go through a season without winning all the big games, emphasising how important it is to win the other games. Certainly, tonights game falls in the category of being self-motivating for everyone with the big build up, TV cameras and a big crowd and the intensity has been in evidence all week and will hopefully enable us to extend our run off good form.