Ayr United Academy 17s played hosts to a strong Dundee United side at Prestwick Academy on Sunday afternoon with Ayr starting the game in fantastic fashion by getting control of the midfield and moved quickly into their passing game.
However against the run of play Ayr gifted the visitors the lead when Craig McCracken got caught in possession of the ball 25 yards from goal, and with the United striker through on goal with only the keeper to beat, the Ayr defender brought the player down inside the box for a penalty which they converted past the helpless James Hart.
This was the only set back of an outstanding first half in which the boys played some superb one touch football.
Ayr equalised through Alan Forrest from the penalty spot before Michael Wardrope scored the goal of the match with a 25 yard strike that flew past the Dundee United keeper and into the top corner.
Ayr made it 3-1 when Aiden Keegan arrived at the back post to blast a left foot shot past the Dundee United keeper after some excellent build up play involving Ross Cambell, Alan Forrest and Ryan Nisbet.
The 2nd half was more even with Dundee United having an encouraging opening 10 minutes but they weren’t able to trouble James Hart in the Ayr goal and just when it seemed that the home side were getting on top again, the defence gifted Dundee United a life line when a hopeful long ball from the Dundee United defender allowed their striker through on goal with only James Hart to beat and the Dundee United Number 10 calmly slotted it past the Ayr goal keeper despite his best efforts to stop it.
Both teams had opportunities to add to the score but none were able to take the chances which allowed this talented Ayr team to see out this entertaining match.
Afterwards manager Andy Willock said: “The first half was the best I have seen the boys play in my 4 years at the Academy but in the second we lost our shape in the midfield and at times our defenders lost their concentration, but all in all it was still a very good performance against a top SPL youth team.”
Ayr United 15s welcomed Dundee United to Prestwick Academy on Sunday morning and it was Ayr who started the brightest when David Richardson tested the Dundee United keeper twice from distance within the first 10 minutes.
However it was the Tangerines that nearly took the lead when a shot from the edge of the box took a wicked deflection but Louis Kerr adjusted his feet very quickly to make a superb stop.
The next chance fell to Ayr as Ross Thomson was alive in the Dundee Utd box to receive a short corner, he turned brilliantly to take a defender out the game but the keeper swooped to smother at his feet to douse the danger.
Craig McGuffie was next to open the visiting defensive line up as after working hard on the left, he squared a low and hard cross to Jai Holland who applied the finishing touch to put Ayr in front as he got across his marker to side foot home.
After 26 minutes, Craig McGuffie increased Ayr’s lead as he ghosted past three Dundee United defenders before firing into the bottom left hand corner for a superb solo goal.
Dundee United were fighting to keep themselves in the match and tried their luck but a shot from their number 10 screwed wide of the target just before Louis Kerr was called into action to make a smart save diving to his left to keep out a drive from the edge of the box.
McGuffie was having a superb game, terrorising the Dundee United defence at every turn and it was the left sided player that nearly added another when he lobbed the Dundee United keeper but watched unfortunately as it drifted over.
Before the end of the period Dundee United had the final chance of the half as they hit the post after a great cross took out the Ayr keeper but the attacker just couldn’t turn home as he smashed the woodwork.
The first half was excellent to watch with end to end football played by two attack minded teams. It was a great advert for youth football in this country and what made it all the more remarkable was that there was no referee! Unfortunately the referee had not turned up and both sets of players effectively officiated the game themselves with the coaches hardly ever having to intervene. All the players on the pitch were a great credit to themselves and their respective clubs.
At the start of the second half the referee that was also due to take the Academy 17s match stepped in and took control for the remainder of the game. He let the game flow well and didn’t interrupt the talented lads on the pitch too much as the second half lived up to the first.
Louis Kerr was brilliant in goal for Ayr once again and when called upon, he seemed equal to everything the East coast side could throw at him as he continued to clear the danger in the early parts of the second period of play.
However after Jai Holland was pulled down in the box, David Richardson coolly slotted home the awarded spot kick as the Tangerines keeper dived in opposite direction to give his side a cushioned lead as the game progressed but the end to end stuff wasn’t finished just quite yet.
Louis Kerr once again pulled off a magnificent save in the home goal when the Dundee Utd number 9 hit a ‘peach’ of a shot from 25 yards that was heading for the top corner but the agile keeper managed to clutch the ball safely.
Ayr then made the game safe by what can only be described as a candidate for goal of the season. The ball was played up to Jai Holland who did brilliantly to take the ball down and turn his man in one swivelling movement. His second touch saw him smash the ball into the Dundee Utd keepers top right hand corner from fully 30 yards which was met by a resoundingly eruption of cheering and applause from everyone watching and brought a huge smile to the youngsters face.
Dundee United grabbed two late counters that were well deserved as they pushed forward. The Ayr players were hanging on for the last 10 minutes but they saw the game out.
It’s hard to tell if it was the early start or the late arrival at St Andrews (due to travel delays) but the Academy 14s took until the third period to fully get going and although late in the game, they dominated that final period.
Unfortunately a combination of giving possession away too often and some individual errors meant that Ayr lost goals in the opening two periods and they were always playing catch up.
However there were several positives to be taken from the game, mainly Ally Boyle’s first competitive goal for Ayr, some great saves by the impressive Taylor Davidson and the industrious central midfield paring of Will Graham and Callum Ogston.
The defensive quartet of Stewart Gray, Fraser Patterson, Lyall Cameron and Dylan Robb were given a hard time by the strong and quick front line of Dundee United but they would have learned a lot from the challenge.
Ayr’s front two of Jamie Martin and Leon Murphy and subsequently Thomas Dunlop worked tirelessly throughout the game but would have hoped for better service and a few more breaks in front of goal meanwhile the wide men Jackson Sivewright and Graeme Swailes also had limited service throughout the game so were only able to create a handful of chances for the front men.
The prelude to Ayr’s goal saw a good passing move set up Leon Murphy who smashed a 25 yard effort at goal which was just tipped over by the Dundee Utd keeper. The resultant corner was swung in and with Dundee Utd unable to clear their lines Ally Boyle nipped in at the back post to smash the ball high into the net.
At the end of the game the Dundee Utd coaches complemented the Ayr boys on the way they played from the back and encouraged them to stick with it. It is now up to the boys to take this on board and ‘up’ their game for the derby match next week against Kilmarnock.
The Ayr 13’s girls headed to Girvan on Saturday looking to build on last week’s tremendous victory over Dumfries but it was Girvan who started the game well looking to attack the Ayr defence but in doing so found they Emma Robertson standing her ground to clear any danger.
Early on, it only looked like one team would take the lead and this continued offense lead to the home side taking the lead.
The remainder of the half was all Ayr and the passing at times was a delight to watch. It was attack after attack and it didn’t take long for Ayr to get the goal they deserved when Hannah McSorley picked up the ball and drove at her defender before unleashing a shot into the bottom corner. This seemed to give Ayr the confidence that they could score more and that they did.
Delightful link up play between Cobi Welsh and Amy Miller left the Girvan struggling to cope with led to Cobi scoring four goals in the next twenty minutes with Amy assisting in all of them. Girvan didn’t give up and kept kicking and working for every ball and scored another two goals of their own.
On the stroke of half time Ayr scored another when a cross from Danielle Nicholson found Hannah Connelly nipping in front of the keeper and tucking the ball into the corner of the empty net.
The second half started with Ayr appearing to think they had the game won, taking their foot off the gas in the meantime which allowed Girvan to dominate proceedings and in doing so got another couple of quick goals to get within one at 5-6.
After some words from the sidelines to ‘encourage’ the girls to slow the game down and to focus on their game rather than getting involved in the physical game that Girvan looked to play, the girls seemed to relax and take the game by the scruff of the neck.
Emma Robertson once again stopped a Girvan attack at the edge of her own box before looking up and seeing space in front of her and with no hesitation she ran with the ball all the way up the field before shooting in at the near post from a tight angle.
As the game was coming to an end Ayr continued to cause troubles and from a corner Danielle Nicholson got on the end of it scoring into the top corner to put the game beyond doubt with a tremendous 8-5 victory over their hosts.
Coach Andy McMath said afterwards: “I am delighted with today’s performance and result against a strong, tall and physical Girvan side. The girls stuck to the game plan really well in getting into the oppositions face giving them no time on the ball, then when in possession make sure we retained it whilst spreading the ball from side to side. Hopefully we can play at this level every week and the results will keep coming.”