Ayr United 3, Stranraer 6
Not even the mst optimistic Stranraer supporter could have imagined that the Blues would demolish Ayr United on their own patch in such majestic style.
In doing so, they ran up a record margin and a record goal tally at Somerset Park in a 6-3 win which was well deserved.
The goal fest began in the 11th minute after a terrible mistake by Michael McGowan. Woefully short with a back pass, he presented Jamie Longworth with a gift on the edge of the box and he only had to round David Hutton and stick the ball into the net, which he duly did.
Within six minutes the home side had converted their arrears into an advantage as poor defending continued. First, the visitors failed to clear an Ayr attack and although Lloyd Kinnaird nodded a Kevin Kyle effort away the ball fell to Michael Moffat who equalised from a tight angle.
It looked bleak for Stranraer when both Scott Robertson and Frank McKeown allowed a long punt to bounce and with David Mitchell equally uncertain, Moffat stepped in once again to round the keeper and score.
But Stranraer were quickly back in their stride and Sean Winter had a chance that was deflected wide. And the Blues restored parity after 25 minutes. A regulation Chris Aitken inswinging corner wasn’t challenged by Ayr’s defence and Longworth rose to slamm a header past Hutton.
The Blues had worked out that the Ayr defence were susceptible under the wind assisted high ball and used it frequently to pressurise them. Grant Gallagher drove forward next and brought Winter and Kinnaird into play on the right in a move that saw the fullback cross towards Martin Grehan who tried to pick the top corner but missed narrowly.
Grehan turned provider on 41 minutes as the Blues made their good play count. He cut in from wide on the left and released Longworth with a superbly weighted pass and Stranraer’s top scorer did the rest, completing his hat-trick with his eighth goal in four games.
Ayr hoped to respond after the interval but the opposite happened within two minutes. Aitken scythed open the home defence with a lovely ball for Stirling and as he attempted to round Hutton, the goalkeeper chopped him down. Aitken stepped forward and blasted the penalty home for a 4-2 lead.
Ayr retaliated when a long ball found Moffat clean through on Mitchell. The Blues keeper appeared to barge the hitman to the ground but he dusted himself down and calmly placed the ball wide of Mitchell’s outstretched hand to fire Ayr back into contention.
Stranraer were determined to keep pushing and Grehan had a shot blocked on the line by Pope before being replaced by David McKenna with a quarter of an hour left to play.
Stranraer made Ayr pay when McKeown headed over the Ayr defence and they allowed Longworth to run free. Trying to round Hutton, the keeper did well but Longworth ran wide to recover and crossed for McKenna to nip in at the near post to force a vital goal.
Stranraer were now in total dominance and cemented that with another penalty when Hutton floored Longworth in the box and Aitken did his usual spot kick master-class to complete the scoring.
While their fans celebrated it was Stranraer who played out the time and secured another three valuable points.
Stephen Aitken had been a bit worried leading up to the game, wondering how his small squad would cope with the injuries in the camp and the effects of Saturday but he was absolutely delighted with the performance and result.
Ayr United: David Hutton, Adam Hunter, Michael Donald, Gordon Pope, Alan Lithgow, Scott McLaughlin, Michael McGowan (Craig Malcolm 73), Robbie Crawford (Brian Gilmour 46), Michael Moffat, Kevin Kyle, Anthony Marenghi. Subs not used: Josh McArthur, Michael Wardrope, Jackson Longridge, Mark Roberts, Willie Muir.
Booked: Hutton, Marenghi, Gilmour
Goals: Moffat 14, 17, 56 pen
Stranraer: David Mitchell, Lloyd Kinnaird, Mark Docherty, Scott Robertson, Frank McKeown, Chris Aitken, Sean Winter (Mark Corocoran 80), Grant Gallagher, Martin Grehan (David McKenna 75), Jamie Longworth (David MacGregor 90), Andy Stirling. Subs not used: Jonathan Baxter, Chris Fahey
Goals: Longworth 11, 25, 41, Aitken 48 8en, 85 pen, McKenna 77
Referee: A Dallas