Report from Ayr

Betfred Cup (Scottish League Cup, Group Stage)

Somerset Park, Ayr

Saturday 16th July 2016 at 3pm

Ayr United 2 Hamilton Academical 1

Accies start to the 2016/17 season began with a 2-1 defeat to Championship new boys Ayr United at Somerset Park. It was a match marked by three goals, few chances, not a lot else in between and had the definite air of the pre-season friendly stamped all over it. The Accies side were a bit flat and looked like a definite work in progress, but shouldn’t take away from the fact that Ayr deserved their win.

The Honest Men opened the scoring within a minute of the match kicking off after Daryll Meggatt converted from the penalty spot. The home side then caught Accies cold at the start of the second half when Robbie Crawford’s shot after a corner shot past Accies debutant ‘keeper Remi Matthews from distance. Louis Longridge pulled one back for Hamilton inside injury time with a strike from 12 yards.

The match began in the worst possible fashion for Hamilton, when Darian MacKinnon was adjudged to have pushed Daryll Meggatt in an off the ball incident from a corner kick. The referee blew his whistle and pointed to the spot, awarding Ayr United the penalty kick. Alan Forest calmly stroked the ball past Matthews, giving the on loan Canaries keeper an early welcome to Scottish football.

The penalty kick failed to spark the first half into action but Accies looked the more likely to create something. After a couple of cleared corners, Accies first half chance fell to Alex D’Acol but he could only head tamely on goal from a Grant Gillespie  cross. Other than that, when Accies moved the ball forward, play broke down before a telling pass could ask questions of the United defence.

Remi Matthews had the chance to show his worth to the travelling Accies fans behind his goal, when he found himself one on one with Alan Forrest. After a surging run down the right hand side, the United striker cut inside to the Hamilton penalty area and shot from 10 yards. Fortunately Matthews stood up, waited for the strike and blocked for a corner kick.
The second half started much the same as the first, with Accies conceding a quick goal. This time when a spectacular 22 yard left footed strike by Robbie Crawford found the top corner of the net, despite the best efforts of the keeper to reach it. Moments later Accies countered with a chance of their own with a Louis Longridge effort being blocked a couple of yards shy of the goal line.

Accies made a double substitution on 56 minutes after Jesus Garcia Tena was stretchered off the field after going in for a challenge. Scott McMann came on for big Jesus whilst Danny Redmond replaced Alex D’Acol. Within seconds of the change, Redmond curled an effort on the Ayr goal from 20 yards but Greg Fleming was able to gather comfortably.
Ayr carved another decent chance for themselves after the impressive Nicky Devlin made a strong run through the centre of the field, and touched to the side for Forest to test Matthews from 20 yards. As Accies searched for a goal late into the match, Longridge had a shot saved before finally beating Fleming with a strike from 12 yards.

A disappointed Martin Canning said afterwards, “I’m very disappointed with the result today, I think we didn’t perform well at all.  We moved the ball well about the back but we weren’t able to hurt them when it counted, and obviously that wasn’t part of the plan. We know that we probably need four or five players in and we’re working so hard behind the scenes to do that but it’s constant.

“We’ve got a couple of things going on out there just now and hopefully we’ll have some news on that situation soon but it’s difficult. It’s difficult to try and get the calibre of player that we need to improve the squad. I think we have the numbers but it’s just about getting the quality in that can make a bit of difference, and that’s where we find ourselves short at this minute in time.”

The initial news on injured defender Jesus Garcia Tena after the match wasn’t good to hear with Martin adding, “We’ll have to wait and see, he gets scanned on Monday and we’ll see how bad it is but at the moment it doesn’t look good.”

Ayr: Fleming, Devlin, Boyle, Gilmore (Johnson 84), Murphy, Crawford, Forrest, Cairney (McGuffie 70), Adams (Wardrope 78), Meggatt, Docherty. Subs Unused: Hart, Wardrope, McCracken.
Goals: Forrest 1, Crawford 48.
Cautions: Adams.

Accies: Matthews, Kurakins, Devlin, Gillespie (Hughes 85), Imrie, Docherty, D’Acol (Redmond 56), Crawford, Longridge, MacKinnon, Garcia Tena (McMann 56). Subs Unused: Martin, McGregor, Boyd, Tierney.
Goals: Longridge 90+3.
Cautions: MacKinnon, Devlin.

Referee: Nick Walsh Assistants: Mark McLean & Calum Spence.
Attendance: 994 (318 Accies)