Tuesday March 10, 2015

SPFL League One

Ayr United

0-1

Airdrieonians

Fitzpatrick 52

Airdrie stayed in the hunt for a top-four finish as Marc Fitzpatrick fired the Diamonds to victory over ten-man Ayr.

Gary Bollan’s side made hard work of the three points at Somerset Park, beating United for the third time this season to give themselves some hope of making it into the play-offs.

The first half was one where both sides turned in a rather lacklustre display with there never seeming to be the possibility of the deadlock being broken.

In 5 minutes a Murray shot from outside the box was comfortably taken, low down by McNeil.

With 14 minutes gone Ayr full back Blakeman carried the ball forward into the opposing half then won a 50:50 ball in a strong challenge and followed up with a 30 yard shot that McNeil was able to take easily.

2 minutes later Robertson went close with a snap shot from Donald’s cross from the right hand side.

With the match descending into a lull Blakeman made a lunge for the ball on the stand side just beyond halfway. He took down Bain in the process and referee Steven produced the red card.

In 23 minutes a Gilfillan header was knocked away for a corner in one of few first half threats to the Ayr goal.

With ten minutes of the first half remaining Ayr had a free kick 20 yards out but it was wasted by McGovern, who curled the ball over the wall and high over McNeil’s crossbar.

Almost on the interval Morton gathered a clearance by keeper Hutton, took a few strides then fired in a 30 yard shot that only just flew over the Ayr keeper’s goal.

Despite the visitors having the numerical advantage the home side were looking dangerous in the early spell after the restart.

Airdrie reacted and eventually took the lead in 62 minutes.

A powerful run took Bain down the right touchline, with his excellent piece of play being followed up by an excellent driven cross into the box. The ball fell nicely to Fitzpatrick and he wasted little time in firing high into the net to open the scoring.

A minute later Gilfillan shot from 25 yards out but Hutton saved easily.

Ayr battled back with Preston almost in behind the Airdrie back line in 57 minutes while McNeil collected a headed attempt by Robertson a minute later.

As the home side continued to press McNeil made a fine diving save to his right hand post as he turned away McGovern’s net bound free kick in 59 minutes, reacting quickly to get back up to collect the cross under the bar.

With 66 minutes gone McGovern’s pass in to Beattie on the edge of the box saw the striker pivot and drill the ball just wide of McNeil’s left post.

The Diamonds were being pressed back but were defending well as they showed in 71 minutes with Beattie and Preston attempts to get a shot on target but finding their efforts blocked for a corner.

A succession of substitutions followed as Airdrie tried to stem the tide and look for an out ball.

John Boyle’s cross to Watt at the far post in 79 minutes was headed back across goal and cleared.

With 9 minutes left a mazy run by Crawford taking him into the box was ended with a shot that was deflected over the crossbar.

On the 90 minute mark a terrific 25 yard volley by Donald was well saved by McNeil who pushed the ball over the bar.

The match was reaching a finale as Ayr continued to deliver successive crosses into the box that were continuously headed clear by the resolute Airdrie defence.

A rear guard action - despite a man advantage for 70 minutes - with McNeil making a couple of fine saves to ensure all three points were collected.

John O'Brien at Somerset Park.

Photographs © Robert Dalzell. Click to view full size.

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