Fixture: Ayr United v Queens Park U17's
Venue: Belmont Academy
With Ayr sitting second in the table with a game in hand today’s match at Belmont Academy was a crucial one against Queens Park in their quest for the title.
The game started off with a very high tempo, both teams eager to make an impact.
It was Ayr who struck first when they won possession down the right and with quick feet from Jarod Kiefer, he slid the ball to his left and Jai Holland kept his cool to slot home the opener within the first few minutes of the game.
Ayr keeping the pressure on Holland won a 50/50 in the middle of the park and advanced to produce a smart save from Queens Park keeper Craig Melrose.
It was Ayr who came to terms with the pace of the game quicker as they stunned the away side with the early goal.
Very early on it was clear that this game was going to be won or lost in the midfield with neither team pulling out of any challenges.
Neither side were able to take control in the middle of the park and a header back to the Ayr defence was stolen by Queens Park’s striker Scott Moore and he broke through. Unfortunately for the pacey number 9 his left footed effort went just wide of the post.
Again the battle in midfield was the main talking point in the game; Ayr’s Adam Caldwell intercepted some neat play from Queens and stormed confidently forward resulting in a strike to Melrose’s left which he was equal to putting out for a corner. The corner then was cleared breaking to the confident right back Caldwell who’s shot went over the bar.
Queens Park broke down Ayr’s right hand side with Cameron Russell but United’s centre half Nathan Baird was equal to the attack and shepherded the ball out for a throw in.
By this time Queens were looking for that spark to get this game started for them. A long ball forward by Lee Connelly was chased down by their left back Chris Martin and his pressured was rewarded with a corner. The corner came in and the danger was safely removed by Ayr’s Caldwell.
On the attack again Queens Park’s Moore who received the ball to feet, took on two players and powers into the box but the Ayr keeper Louis Kerr was a match for the strike and got down well to save.
A quick throw in for Queens down Ayr’s right draws a free kick to the away team. The free kick by Cameron Price was sent into the back post but keeper Kerr was equal to it and turned the ball round the post for a corner kick.
Queens Park had started to make their mark on the game and Ayr needed a response quickly. That is exactly what happened. Kiefer’s vision seen Jamie Martin in space who slid the ball out to the right wing with Caldwell cutting the ball back to the penalty spot to Holland who was unlucky to see his effort crash off the bar, Kiefer was unable to convert the rebound. A great response from the Ayrshire boys after soaking up the earlier pressure.
The midfield battle again proved crucial as a great ball winning tackle from Ayr’s centre midfielder Callum Smith saw him stride forward and have a go from about 25 yards out. His effort was too good for Melrose in the Queens Park goal as it hit the back of the net. Great goal. 2-0 to United.
A pass back from the Queens defence put Melrose under pressure as Ayr Striker Kiefer was razor sharp and closed down the keeper, the keeper tackled and despite shouts from the players and side-lines the call was no penalty.
The ball was played into the box to Kiefer and he was brought down, this time the referee was pointing to the spot to United’s delight.. The big number 9 dusted himself down to take the penalty himself. Up he stepped putting it down to the keepers right but Melrose was equal to it and kept the strike out and was then cleared by the oncoming defender.
At this point Ayr were eager to put this game to bed. Great play by winger Martin down the inside right channel to Kiefer, he went to the by-line but no one was in the box for the cut back.
With the first half drawing to a close the Queens rallied. A long ball over the top seen Moore breaking through but was challenged inside the box by Ayr’s David Anderson. The referee blew and pointed to the spot. Moore made no mistake with the penalty. 2-1.
The goal certainly gave Queens Park confidence as a through ball from Russell was dummied by Moore and evaded the United defence with Connelly through and only the Kerr to beat, the big keeper won this battle and made a great save with his feet.
The referee blew the whistle for half time. A very good first half with Ayr United just edging out their opponents 2-1.
Whatever the manager said the Queens Park players at half time certainly worked. Cameron Price striving forward struck a left footed shot destined for the back of the net but only to be denied by Kerr who acrobatically tipped the ball over.
A scrap down the Queens right resulted in the ball finding its way in to the box and their talented forward Connelly made no mistake sweeping the ball home right footed to draw the game level.
Ayr were desperate not to let the lead slip and a nice one two between defender Connor McMillan and midfielder David Richardson launched their team on the attack again. The ball was cut back to Kiefer but narrowly missed as he watched his effort spin past the right hand post.
With Queens not wanting to be out done they launched a fast paced attack of their own down the right flank with Moore cutting inside playing the ball to Connelly who seen his effort blocked by Caldwell.
Neither side were willing to back down, with both teams giving it there all. They both sensed that this game was not over.
A diagonal pass from Ayrs McMillan saw Holland burst free of the back line only to be muscled off the ball by Anton Houghton allowing Melrose to come and collect the ball.
With the game on a knife edge Ayr’s Martin nicked back possession and played in Leon Murphy who shot low but again Melrose saved.
Keeping the pressure on attacking full back Caldwell burst into the box taking on three players only to have his effort saved my Melrose.
A miss placed pass by Ayr after a corner fell to the feet of Queens centre half Cameron Foy who played a great curling ball into the back post only for Connelly to get on the end of it with a looping header finding the net at the far post. Kerr in the United goal got a fingertip to it but it wasn’t enough to keep it out. 3-2 Queens.
Confidence was flowing now between the Queens players as they had completed the comeback. Connelly had another effort from outside the box but this time was unable to find the net.
Queens Park’s central midfielder Conor McCorry came close late on and was unlucky to see his long range effort go wide of the goal.
In the dying moments of the game Ayr had a free kick which was launched into the box but was claimed confidently by Melrose who took the sting out of the final minutes.
Full Time : Ayr United 2-3 Queens Park