1 - 0
|Craig Moore (4)||None.|
1. Ross Doohan
3. Daniel Harvie
5. Michael Rose
15. Steven Bell
27. Liam Smith
8. Robbie Crawford
11. Declan McDaid
18. Andy Murdoch
23. Ross Docherty
7. Michael Moffat
9. Craig Moore
19. Ellis Hare-Reid
2. Chris Higgins
17. Lawrence Shankland
20. James Hilton
21. Finn Ecrepont
25. Luke McCowan
30. Aaron Muirhead
|Lawrence Shankland for Craig Moore (67)||
Nicky Clark for Sam Stanton (60)
Ian Harkes for Fraser Fyvie (60)
Aidan Nesbitt for Pavol Šafranko (82)
Michael Rose (28)
Liam Smith (44)
Michael Moffat (90)
Morgaro Gomis (51)
Morgaro Gomis (89)
Don Robertson (Referee)
Ayr was the appropriate location for Dundee United on Burns Night as they travelled to Somerset Park to take on Ayr United in a Friday night clash in the Scottish Championship.
Since their 4-0 Scottish Cup victory over Montrose in their previous match, Dundee United had continued to be busy in the transfer market, with two new loan signings taking their places in the matchday squad. Right back Charlie Seaman, on loan from AFC Bournemouth, went straight into the starting line-up to replace Paul Watson. The only other change from the side that beat Montrose in Dundee United’s previous game saw Fraser Fyvie come in for Aidan Nesbitt. Goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw was brought in on loan from Hibernian and replaced the freed Matej Rakovan on the bench. Lawrence Shankland, who has scored four goals against the Terrors in the previous meeting between the teams, had suffered a spell of injury but was fit enough to take a place on the bench for the Honest Men.
Ayr United had not won since their 5-0 victory at Tannadice in November, and went into the game off the back of three straight defeats without scoring. Most recently, they had suffered a 1-0 defeat to junior team Auchinleck Talbot in the Scottish Cup. Dundee United went into the game knowing that a win would see them go level on points with league leaders Ross County, albeit almost certainly with a vastly inferior goal difference.
The match kicked off in wet and blustery conditions on Scotland’s west coast. Given Ayr United’s poor run, it was maybe surprising that Dundee United ceded the right the play into the wind for the first half, a decision they would come to regret as the home side utterly dominated the first half, aided both by the conditions and an atrocious Dundee United performance.
Ayr United came close within the first couple of minutes when a rifling drive from 16 yards by Declan McDaid following good work by skipper Ross Docherty was well saved by Benjamin Siegrist. That only proved to be a stay of execution for Dundee United, as the home side took the lead within 60 seconds. McDaid, who had caused so many problems in the previous game between the teams at Tannadice, broke down the left and lifted a deep cross into the box. Andy Murdoch outjumped the static Callum Booth at the back post and headed the ball across to Craig Moore, who stabbed the ball into the net past Ben Siegrist from just outside the six yard box.
It could have got even worse for the away side a minute later when Robbie Crawford found himself in space on the edge of the area, but he could only fire his shot over the bar. The home side were putting Dundee United under constant pressure, and the away side never really got into the game at any point.
The next real chance for the Honest Men came after 15 minutes when Michael Moffat almost latched onto a long ball from defence, but fortunately for Dundee United Ben Siegrist just beat the Ayr striker to the ball and was able to clear. The chances for the home side kept coming, and four minutes later they maybe should have doubled their lead when a Declan McDaid corner kick was headed just over the bar by former Dundee United youth player Steven Bell. A minute later the impressive Moore shot inches wide from 12 yards after latching on to a long through ball. Michael Rose was booked for a mistimed tackle in 23 minutes and a minute later a Liam Smith cross was headed just over the bar by Andy Murdoch. Dundee United’s only contribution to the first half was a Fraser Fyvie cross that Pavol Safranko just failed to get on the end of.
Just after half an hour there was controversy as the home side had a strong appeal for a penalty. Rachid Bouhenna appeared to pull the shirt of Craig Moore after the Ayr United forward had cleverly turned him on the edge of the penalty area. If there was a foul, it was unclear whether or not it was inside the area. In any event, referee Don Robertson saw nothing amiss and Dundee United had a massive let-off.
As the game plodded towards half time Dundee United did have a couple of half chances, and with five minutes left until the break a Cammy Smith effort was well saved by Ayr United goalkeeper Ross Doohan, just after a dangerous cross from debutant Charlie Seaman was scrambled clear by the home defence. Liam Smith was booked just before half time for a mistimed sliding tackle which took out Paul McMullan, and Morgaro Gomis followed him into the book just after the break for a tug on Michael Moffat as despite playing into the wind in the second half, the home side continued to cause Dundee United problems.
The home side were continuing to make all the running, and with six minutes gone in the half Craig Moore nearly doubled his tally for the evening but just failed to connect with a Robbie Crawford ball across the face of goal. Steven Bell shot inches wide from a Declan McDaid cross in 55 minutes and two minutes later Daniel Harvie spooned a shot inches over the bar from eight yards.
That final chance spurred Robbie Neilson into making some badly needed changes, and soon afterwards Sam Stanton and Fraser Fyvie were hooked to be replaced by Ian Harkes and Nicky Clark. Dundee United spurned a rare chance in 65 minutes when a Frederic Frans header from a Cammy Smith corner crept just over the bar. Four minutes after that, the away side had their best chance of the night when substitute Nicky Clark was played through on goal, but Ross Doohan was able to save from close range to preserve Ayr United’s lead. Ayr United goalscorer Craig Moore was then replaced by top scorer Lawrence Shankland, making his first appearance for a month after injury.
Shankland nearly made an almost immediate impact on the 74th minute after being played through on goal by Michael Moffat, but Ben Siegrist just beat him to the ball and the chance was gone. Aidan Nesbitt was then brought on for Pavol Safranko with eight minutes to go. Although it looked like an odd change at the time, it nearly saw Dundee United snatch a point that they barely deserved as a ball from the right found Nesbitt clear on goal at the back post, but Ross Doohan was able to block the ball from close range, and it was to be the best chance Dundee United would create all night.
The defeat was sealed in the final minute of the game when Morgaro Gomis was sent off after picking up his second booking for a foul on Lawrence Shankland. With the departure of Gomis, Dundee United’s chances of rescuing something from the game went with him and Ayr United saw out the game to deservedly take the win.
The win saw Ayr United go top of the Championship ahead of Ross County on goal difference. Dundee United remained in third place, and were left to reflect on a desperately disappointing performance after the optimism of the last few weeks. The result emphasised how much work the Terrors needed to do if they were to gain automatic promotion from the Championship this season.
Match report written by Derek Keilloh
|Benji Siegrist (GK)||26||19||-||19||-|
|Aidan Nesbitt (sub)||21||4||-||4||-|
|Ian Harkes (sub)||23||2||1||2||1|
|Nicky Clark (sub)||27||16||6||16||6|