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March 29, 2024

cinch Championship

Ayr United




Anton Dowds 47
Sean McGinty 50


Josh O'Connor 38


The Diamonds were brought back to earth with a bump as Josh O’Connor’s superb first-half strike was wiped out by Ayr's three-minute turnaround after the break.

Rhys McCabe didn’t have his troubles to seek prior to kick-off, with injuries sustained in Sunday’s SPFL Trust Trophy win ruling out Liam McStravick and Airdrie’s player-manager himself. Gavin Gallagher and Cammy Ballantyne also stepped out of the side, with Kanayo Megwa, Arron Lyall, Dean McMaster and O’Connor the replacements.

Inspired by on-loan striker Anton Dowds, Ayr United had won the three previous meetings between the sides this season, and it was to unfold in similar fashion again on a chilly Friday night on the coast.

The home side had the first chances of the match, winning two corners in quick succession with the first blocked behind before Robbie Hemfrey saved a headed effort from the second after just two minutes.

Josh Clarke, who played for the Diamonds in their first league fixture this season, could only push away a Lyall strike from outside the box a minute later, but the keeper got enough on it to allow the ball to be hacked clear.

Half-chances fell at either end with Charlie Telfer just failing to get on a fifth-minute Mason Hancock cross before Hemfrey claimed a ball in from Scott Tomlinson at the other end.

Jamie Murphy was next to threaten for the Honest Men, but despite having plenty of time and space at the edge of the box, he planted his strike wide of the target.

Dean McMaster almost opened his Airdrie account in style, catching a half-volley perfectly on 21 minutes, but somehow Clarke got a fingertip to it as it arrowed toward the top corner.

Lyall’s close control was causing problems just before the half-hour mark, teeing up Hancock for shot which lacked power on 26 minutes before winning a corner a minute later.

Adam Frizzell was almost in on goal in the 28th minute, but Clarke and Sean McGinty both closed in on the Airdrie skipper and he was unable to get his shot away.

A spell of Ayr pressure followed, but the home side were wasteful in front of goal with Tomlinson heading well over the bar before Roy Syla rattled the roof of the stand with an ambitious effort on 37 minutes.

A minute later the Diamonds were in front, and it was the raw pace of O’Connor which outfoxed the home defence, the Hibs loanee taking out Sanders with a great touch from Nikolay Todorov’s flick-on before bursting onto the ball and firing past the outrushing Clarke.

Lyall went close to adding a second a few minutes later, but it took a fine save from Hemfrey to keep his side in front when a strike from the edge of the area took a wicked deflected two minutes before the break.

Airdrie took their lead into the interval after a hard-fought first half, but Ayr had turned things around within five minutes of the restart.

A long ball was nodded on with 47 minutes on the clock, and while Craig Watson looked to have the situation under control, the close attentions of Dowds caused the defender to misjudge his headed passback, and the Ayr striker intercepted and rifled in the equaliser.

Three minutes later Scott Brown’s men were in front, a free-kick near the corner flag lofted into the box where McGinty got across the Airdrie defence to send home a glancing header.

Hancock’s ball across the face of goal found no takers on 52 minutes, and the defender forced a decent hold from Clarke seven minutes later.

As play moved from end-to-end, Hemfrey saved Jamie Murphy’s 61st-minute strike before Hancock sent a free-kick well over the bar at the other end.

With Airdrie pushing for an equaliser, gaps were appearing at the back and a 65th-minute Ayr raid required a brilliant recovery block from Megwa.

A slew of substitutions slowed the tempo of the game, and as the clock ticked on Hemfrey was called upon again, punching clear after a free-kick on 78 minutes.

A McMaster tackle angered the home side with ten minutes remaining, but referee David Munro was well placed and decided on a yellow card.

Hemfrey got a good hand to a free-kick delivery a minute later, but it took until stoppage-time for Airdrie to threaten again, Clarke denying Calum Gallagher at close-range before a controversial moment on 94 minutes when Gabby McGill stepped out of the attack to allow fellow sub Gallagher to race in on goal, only for the Englishman to be flagged offside.

The final whistle followed, with Airdrie remaining in fourth place ahead of Saturday’s fixtures. A trip to Arbroath on Tuesday evening is next up for the Diamonds.

Stuart Mathie at Somerset Park.

Photos © Redacted Media. Click to view full-size.

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