Wednesday night at Somerset Park, wind blowing, rain howling down, this is what summer football in Scotland would be like at it’s best.

by Marc RosebladeIn weather more akin to the middle of winter, Ayr and English side Bolton Wanderers went about their business on the green green grass of Somerset Park and served up a cracking match that has helped to warm the very cockles of even the hardest of hearts during a summer of sporting meltdown in Scottish soccer.

You’ll not find any of the Ayr United fans crying over the predicament that Rangers find themselves in. You won’t find them losing any sleep over the financial problems that some of the SPL clubs are claiming to have to endure thanks to the Rangers relegation. These are good old fashioned football supporters in a good old fashioned football stadium and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sheltering under the Somerset Road end of the terraced home end of the stadium to try and keep themselves dry from the driving rain, the Ayr fans entered this match v Bolton in the hope of bouncing back from Monday nights defeat by Partick by emulating Saturdays thumping of Motherwell. The weather may have been the complete opposite to four days ago but the excitement throughout the game more than matched the triumphant 4-0 victory over Motherwell, just only without as many goals.

Bolton were not taking this match lightly, starting with Knight, Rickets, Yong-Lee, Davies, Petrov and Eagles to name a few as they looked to kick start a three match tour of Scotland with a victory.

Ayr brought back Jonathan Tiffoney at right back and started with most of the starters that brought the victory on Saturday against European hopefuls Motherwell.

Ayr started the game well and weren’t overawed by their illustrious English counterparts with Michael Moffat, Ross Robertson and Mark Shankland all linking up well in their forward positions and chances for Moffat and Roberston early on buoyed the team as they took the match to Bolton.

Robertson saw a couple of his shots go close before the half hour was out and must have thought he was going to make the breakthrough sooner or later against Owen Coyles men but Bolton weren’t out of the running and should have taken the lead on the 30 minute mark after Chung Yong Lee crossed to Kevin Davies who really should have done better from two yards out but somehow managed to fail to hit the target.

Kevin Davies missed another opportunity right on the half time break after receiving a clever lofted ball into the box but instead of putting his foot through the ball, his weak effort trickled back to the Ayr defenders to mop up and clear easily.

It was an end to end 45 minutes of play and no one could argue about the scoreline as both teams had been playing well, passing the ball about, plenty of possession and some good efforts on goal. It was a good all round performance from both sets of player and the fans had been well entertained, only without any goals thus far.Bolton decided to shake things up for the second period with seven substitutions during the break, most notable was Scotsman and ex Rangers players Gregg Wylde who was to cause an added dimension to the Bolton attack down the left side that Ayr’s Jonathan Tiffoney was to have to be in top gear to counter against.

Bolton started the second half the quicker with chances falling for Pratley and Alonso (no not him) but both saw their chances fly wide of goal without challenging Ayr’s trialist keeper Ally Brown.

Ayr made a change, bringing on Michael McGowan as a trialist, who the home fans will remember from last year as a regular starter but has yet to pen a new deal this current season. However only moments later the nippy wide players was to leave the park after a reoccurring knee injury forced him back off the field with youngster Robbie Crawford replacing him in a midfield holding role.

But just before this switch was made, Bolton opened the scoring from a Marcos Alonso strike that skimmed the slippery wet grass and into the bottom right hand corner of the goal to give his side a 1-0 lead with 20 minutes remaining on the clock.

Ayr boss Mark Roberts decided it was time for him to play his part in the match and entered the field on 72 minutes at the expense of Ross Roberston up top for the Honest Men which had an almost instant return for him and his team.

Six minutes, not instant, but still only six minutes it took for Roberts to bury the ball in the back of the net after receiving a perfect cross from Tiffoney on the right. Roberts found himself in plenty of space at the back post, a couple of yards away from goal, and on slotting it into the back of the net, he lived up to his new nickname that has been placed upon him by the Ayr fans, ‘Shiny Teeth’, and grinned from ear to ear right in front of the home support in the Somerset Road stand.Another couple of chances came and went for both sets of players but the game ended as a fair result of one goal apiece that no one could argue about.

Afterwards Bolton boss Owen Coyle said:”I wasn’t surprised about how well Ayr played, I know Mark [Roberts] and knew he would have Ayr set up to play well because of the quality of players they would be playing against. Ayr United at home is tough venue for anyone and every time I was here as a player I probably scored but for anybody else coming it’s always a tough one. They were a credit to themselves and when Marko came on the pitch, he’s a goal threat and he finished his goal superbly.”
“Ayr will be looking to bounce back to the first division this season at the first attempt and they look well set for that.”

Mark Roberts had this to say:”When I came on it was really more to do with tiredness of my players. The guys in the team are doing a great job so I am not in a great hurry to get back out playing. Moffat and Robertson have been partnering up front really well and they are the starting two up front.”
“In this match we competed really well against them and had as many chances as them in the first half but in the second half they made so many changes it was a completely new team and our guys started to tire and then they scored.” he continued.

“I am delighted with players and can’t ask any more from them.”

Looking forward to Saturdays match with Northern Irish side Glentoran he said:”That match will be more a typical Scottish type of game as that’s the style they play and maybe sets us up better for the league season ahead.”

Speaking of current players he said:”Mikey McGowan is a worry for us. He came off the park after a couple of minutes with his knee injury. He’s been running in pre season training and he’s been fine but it’s hard for me  as he’s not signed yet and he’s not 100% fit but we’ll give him every opportunity to achieve that before we make a decision.”

“I’ll probably make a decision of Darren Browlie after Saturday as well. He’s been doing well and he’s still a kid but he’s been getting good support from Campbell, Robertson and McCann in defence and could definetely come into our team and do a job, especially at second division level.”

Final score from Somerset Park
Ayr United 1
Bolton Wanderers 1

Marc Roseblade is a Contributor for, Football Speak, Global Football Today, 90 Soccer, Yardbarker, OurGameMagazine and various online & published sports outlets across the globe. All quotes are obtained first-hand unless otherwise stated. You can follow Marc on Twitter @myscottishfitba

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