Ayr Utd 1-2 Saints

Saturday 8th February

Saints progressed to the Quarter Finals of the Scottish Cup this afternoon as they defeated Championship side Ayr United 2-1 at Somerset Park.

Ayr, who are currently third in the Championship, took the lead after 4 minutes when on-loan Ipswich Town striker Aaron Drinan slotted low past Zander Clark.

Saints though were level on 18 minutes as both Aaron Muirhead and Callum Hendry went for a David Wotherspoon cross and the final touch came off the Ayr defender as it looped into the net.

The hosts were then reduced to ten men on 26 minutes as Muirhead was shown a straight red card for a tackle on Liam Craig.

From the resultant free kick Saints took the lead as Hendry nodded home a Drey Wright cross. Saints then went on to dominate proceedings but couldn’t add any more goals to their tally.

Next up for Saints is a Premiership match at home to Motherwell on Wednesday evening, kick off 7:45pm.

MATCH REPORT

It was Scottish Cup Fifth Round weekend today and Saints made the trip west for a tie against Championship side Ayr United at Somerset Park. For this afternoon’s match Tommy Wright made two changes to the side that defeated Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Wednesday evening. Out went Jason Holt, who dropped to the bench, and the injured Michael O’Halloran and they were replaced by Drey Wright and Callum Hendry. A second half penalty from Alan Forrest secured a point at Partick Thistle a week past Friday for the Honest Men and Mark Kerr made two changes to his side for this afternoon’s cup clash. Luke McCowan and Grant Gillespie came into the starting eleven to replace Michael Moffat and Ross Docherty.

As part of the Heads Up campaign this afternoon’s match kicked off at 3:01pm. The campaign encourages fans to “Take a Minute” to talk to fellow supporters and help break the stigma of Mental Health and Wellbeing.

David Wotherspoon got the match underway but it would be the hosts who created the first chance in the first minute. A short pass by Jason Kerr to Liam Craig was picked up by Stephen Kelly and he advanced forward before laying the ball off Luke McCowan however, the Saints defence got back and were able to deal with the danger.

Ayr would have been hoping to create another shock after they had eliminated Ross County in the previous round and the Honest Men took the lead after 4 minutes. Grant Gillespie played in Aaron Drinan and he slotted low past Clark and it looked like the giant-killing act was on.

Saints though started to settle into the match and on 14 minutes Wotherspoon fed the ball into Stevie May but the Saints forward saw his effort go over.

On 18 minutes Saints were back on level terms as Kerr sent a long ball forward to May who then cut it back to Wotherspoon. The Saints midfielder looked up and delivered a great cross into the box from the left which both Aaron Muirhead and Callum Hendry went for although it looked like that the last touch came off the Ayr defender as it looped past the stranded Ross Doohan in the home goal.

Then on 26 minutes Muirhead’s afternoon got even worse as he was shown a straight red for a poor challenge on Liam Craig. The Ayr defender had also been booked prior to that for a rash challenge on Hendry. Then from the resultant free kick the ball was played out to Drey Wright and he delivered a fantastic deep ball into the box picking out Hendry at the back post who headed home to put Saints into the lead. There was no doubt this time that Hendry was the scorer!

Just after the half an hour mark May had the ball in the net for Saints with a tidy finish however, play was pulled back as the Saints striker was deemed to have been in an offside position.

Saints were now full of confidence and were taking advantage of their extra man. With 10 minutes of the first half remaining Wotherspoon played a short corner to Craig and his delivery into the box was met by the head of Callum Booth but the defender couldn’t direct his effort on target.

It was one-way traffic and on 40 minutes Saints created their next chance as Wright broke at pace before delivering another good cross into the box however, substitute Sam Roscoe knocked the ball behind before May could make a connection. From the resultant corner Wotherspoon played it short to Wright who then sent it back to Wotherspoon and the midfielder sent a curling ball into the box but Ayr keeper Ross Doohan comfortably gathered the ball.

Early into the second half Saints were awarded a free kick just outside the box following a foul on Craig by Gillespie. Hendry stepped up to take it and he sent a great curling ball over the wall but Doohan was equal to the effort as he produced a good save to turn it behind for a corner.

Despite the wind picking up with Storm Ciara moving in Saints continued to dominate proceedings during the second half. Tommy Wright’s men almost got a third on 62 minutes as Jordan Houston came close to putting the ball into his own net but Doohan was able to divert it behind for a corner.

On 68 minutes Craig saw his effort from distance go over as Saints continued to push for a third. Then a couple of minutes Wotherspoon was next to have a shot from distance but his effort went over.

Wotherspoon was involved in the thick of the action again on 77 minutes as Hendry played the ball out to the midfielder and he cut inside before having a shot which Doohan turned behind for a corner.

The chances kept on coming for Saints as May saw his effort go well over and then with 10 minutes remaining Wright’s powerful effort went wide of the target.

With the rain starting to lash down Saints created another chance as May saw his looping effort go narrowly over. Despite Saints dominating Ayr came close to pulling a goal back on 83 minutes but Houston saw his effort saved.

With 5 minutes of the second half remaining Tommy Wright made his second change of the afternoon as he brought on Isaiah Jones to make his debut, replacing Stevie May. The on-loan Middlesbrough winger was quickly involved in the action as on 87 minutes a long ball forward by Craig sent Jones free and it looked like he was going to score as he raced towards the Ayr goal but Roscoe got back to stop the pacey winger in his tracks. The Saints fans in the stand behind the goal were claiming for a penalty as Jones fell to the ground under the challenge from the Ayr defender but referee Steven McLean waved play on.

Ayr increased the pressure in the final few minutes of the match as they looked for the equaliser that would take the match to a reply however, Saints saw out the danger as they secured the win to progress to the Quarter Finals.

Ayr United: Doohan, Muirhead, Harvie, Kerr (Tiffoney 54), Forrest (Moffat 68), McCowan (Roscoe 28), Houston, Bell, Drinan, Gillespie, Kelly

Unused Substitutes: Hare-Reid (GK), Malley, McKenzie, Smith

Booked: Muirhead, Gillespie

Sent Off: Muirhead

Scorer: Drinan (4)

Saints: Clark, Ralston, Booth, Kerr, McCart, Wright, Wotherspoon, McCann, Craig, May (Jones 85), Hendry (Kane 78)

Unused Substitutes: Parish (GK), Gordon, Tanser, Butcher, Holt

Booked: None

Scorers: Muirhead (18 og), Hendry (27)

Referee: Steven McLean

Attendance: 2,625 (1,076 Saints fans)

Match Report by Daryl Scott

Picture: Callum Hendry scores Saints second of the afternoon