Ayr United 1 Dunfermline Athletic 2Author: Alistair Campbell Date: Sunday, 11th Apr 2010
Keeper Craig Samson was named man of the match, which is always a bit of a guide to how the game went, although it was more a question of poor finishing that kept the result in doubt until the 90th minute. McDougall’s strike early in the second half clinches the points after McManus cancelled out Campbell’s opener.
The staggering news from Hampden before kick-off meant last week’s reverse was maybe not such a bad result as it felt at the time, but nevertheless changes were expected beforehand, and changes we got. Woods started where he’d finished last week at right back, and Higgins came back in instead of McGregor, who was in the stand. Graham was now fit enough to start, and with Smith continuing between the sticks the Pars lined up Smith; Woods, Dowie, Higgins and McCann; Gibson, Bell, Mason and Graham; McDougall and Campbell. Burke and Holmes made it as far as the bench, alongside Phinn, Ross and Fleming.
The home side had McManus seeking to cause mayhem, with Roberts and Borris looking to get forward from wide areas, and six foot seven Kevin James at centre back looking to win the aerial duels, alongside Billy Gibson.
Just under 100 Pars fans had made the journey, with the majority of them enjoying the spring sunshine on the open terracing, and they had an early view of Higgins heading a McGowan header clear from an early corner, with Smith static, but most of the play was towards the Somerset Road end.
Although Ayr needed the points, the atmosphere was quite subdued, Macca’s instructions being clearly heard, telling Gibson how to take a seventh minute free-kick. It nearly worked, Willie’s chip being hooked on by Higgins, but McDougall’s drive through a forest of legs went wide. Woods was next to try his luck with a volley from 35 yards, but Samson was able to pat the ball down one-handed.
Bell got a silly early yellow for hauling back Keenan, which neutered his performance somewhat, and also gave Lafferty a chance from the free-kick, but his effort scraped the outside of the post. The home team looked organised and competent, but without any real spark, and the Pars began to get on top. Graham’s reverse ball teed up Campbell, but his shot lacked any real power, before the winger had a go himself, drifting through tackles like a hot knife through butter, but driving over the bar from the edge of the box. Midway through the half he had a better chance after McDougall found his way past Mitchell on the left and Gibson knocked his deep cross back rather than go for glory himself, but again he couldn’t keep the ball down.
McDougall got to Woods’ 30th minute cross a fraction ahead of Samson, but headed straight at Samson’s palms when a bit more self belief might have seen the ball (and possibly the keeper as well) in the back of the net. It began to look as if the Pars would need a mistake, or a fluke to take the lead, the latter nearly arriving when Samson was nearly deceived by McDougall’s cross (as was Gibson over from which side the resultant corner should be taken) but eventually the goal arrived five minutes from the break. Campbell won a free-kick just inside his own half, and with McManus making a nuisance of himself, Dowie had to pass sideways to Higgins, who found McDougall on the left. Steven turned quickly, leaving Mitchell trailing as he reached the byeline and drove towards goal, then picked out Campbell who hooked home. 1-0 Pars. It should have been 2 two minutes later; a quick break found Woods bearing down on goal, but Graham was in a better position, only Samson made a point blank save. Then right on half-time, Ayr equalised – a harmless looking long ball was chased byMcManus, his high foot touched the ball past Higgins and Dowie before getting the break of the ball to go past Smith and tap into the empty net.
Half time: Honest Men 1 Pars 1
The second half started quietly, but within 5 minutes the Pars were back in the lead. Graham sold McGowan a dummy in the middle of the park, giving him space to run at the defence, James failed to cut out his pass to McDougall who found himself with only the keeper to beat and slotted away well. 2-1 Pars
Another nice move, building from the back and switching wings saw Graham set up Mason, but the midfielder’s shot was straight at Samson. Lafferty tried a cheeky chip from distance in 61 minutes that had Smith backpedalling to save, but other than that McManus was the only threat. The ex-Par nutmegged Dowie (but Smith was out to collect), then prodded past after Roberts had held up well.