Peterhead 1 Ayr United 2 (AET)

Nov 25, 2023

Peterhead played host to Ayr United today in the 3rd round of the Scottish Cup. Championship side Ayr United currently sit 6th in their league with 4 wins, 2 draws and 7 losses to show for their efforts in the competition this season. With The Blue Toon coming off the back of a congested week of fixtures, Peterhead returned to a regular timetable in preparation for Saturday’s clash.

Starting XI: McKenzie, Goldie, Ross (C), Wilson, D. Strachan, McKee, Jack Brown, Ritchie, O’Keefe, Shanks, McAllister.

With the squad looking light due to injury, a makeshift defensive partnership and a return to the starting XI for Hamish Ritchie allowed for an entertaining afternoon of football at Balmoor.

It was the visitors who got the ball rolling this afternoon as underdogs Peterhead looked to turn over favourites Ayr United. With an even opening period of both sides enjoying possession, it was Goldie who created the first goal scoring opportunity when he found a pocket of space down the right hand side however his shot flew narrowly over the Ayr crossbar. Shortly after it was McAllister who would find himself space inside the Ayr penalty box after an impressive run from McKee through midfield; however his curling effort did not find the target. After a comfortable spell of possession for the visitors where the Blue Toon defence were pinned back, successive attempts from McGeady, Murphy, and Dowds all failed to trouble McKenzie in the Peterhead goal. As Peterhead pulled through a spell of pressure by Ayr, some excellent link up play from O’Keefe and McAllister out wide found O’Keefe again who played a low cross into Shanks who couldn’t quite connect his flick goal-wards. On the attack again, Ritchie picked up the ball in midfield and drove towards the Ayr defence but his effort from 20 yards out was dragged narrowly wide of the far post. With The Blue Toon now enjoying more of the ball and applying more pressure to the visitors’ defence, Joe McKee found himself with his first set piece of the afternoon however his free kick from 30 yards out was a comfortable catch for Albinson in the Ayr goal. At the other end, Dowds should have scored for Ayr United from close range but his effort was just wide. With both sides now having enjoyable attacking spells, David Wilson made a last ditch challenge to avoid the visitors taking the lead at Balmoor; resulting in a corner that the Peterhead defence dealt with effectively. After a thrilling half of end-to-end football and chances aplenty for both teams, we entered the interval goalless at Balmoor.

HT: Peterhead 0 – 0 Ayr United.

Conor O’Keefe resumed the 2nd half as the Blue Toon aimed to replicate their first half performance. The first chance of the 2nd half fell for Aiden McGeady who, after a well worked Ayr United move around the Peterhead penalty box, curled his effort high and wide from 20 yards out. With Ayr looking like a different team after the interval, good defending and a magnificent double save from Stuart McKenzie kept the scoreline level. With Peterhead coming more into the 2nd half, a positive spell of possession and pressure from the Blue Toon levelled the performance. 59 minutes into the match, Shanks latched on to a weak back-pass from Murphy and found himself 1-on-1 with Albinson. Slotting the ball underneath Albinson from range, Balmoor fell silent awaiting the outcome but celebrations were soon welcomed as Shanks’ effort crept inside the far post. Following on, the first change of the afternoon came from the visitors who swapped McGeady and Amartey for McKenzie and Bryden. With Stuart McKenzie looking unbeatable between the Peterhead goalposts after a string of fine stops, Dempsey of Ayr United was the first player to enter the referee’s book after halting a Blue Toon counter attack. Conor O’Keefe shortly followed suit for a similar offence at the other end. Peterhead responded with a double change of their own, as Jordon Brown and Robert Ward replaced Hamish Ritchie and goalscorer Kieran Shanks. A 3rd double substitution welcomed Ayr United Young and Ahui in place of Dempsey and McAllister. With 7 minutes of regular time remaining, McKee decided he couldn’t continue after picking up an earlier knock and was replaced by Jordan Armstrong. After a long ball up the field, Robert Ward looked to make his mark on the fixture however was brought down by Ahui who was subsequently cautioned. After an altercation involving Rory McAllister, Musonda and Albinson, all 3 players entered the referee’s book with 2 minutes to play. Into injury time, Peterhead made their last change as McAllister was replaced by Reid. With an indicated 6 minutes of injury time to play, controversial decisions surrounding a foul on Aaron Reid and Robert Ward being fouled in the area were overlooked and Ayr United scored from close range after a last ditch delivery into the box.

FT: Peterhead 1 – 1 Ayr United.

With 90 minutes played at Balmoor, an additional 30 minutes of extra time kicked off at Balmoor. With the players from both sides clearly tiring, a scrappy first half of extra time drew to a close not only goalless, but with minimal goal scoring opportunities falling for either side as neither team were able to gain control of the match.

Extra Time HT: Peterhead 1 – 1 Ayr United.

After a scrappy 15 minutes with little possession or chances for either side, The Blue Toon had 15 more to decide their fate in the Scottish Cup. Kicking things off in similar style, both teams failed to maintain any sort of possession. With 10 minutes remaining, O’Keefe attempted to channel his inner Beckham with a speculative effort from the halfway line, however his attempt drifted wide. Shortly after, Ahui from Ayr United was lucky to not receive a 2nd yellow card after a late and high challenge on Ward. With only 4 minutes remaining, Bryden scored from close range to put the visitors in front and was isubsequently booked for his celebrations.

AET: Peterhead 1 – 2 Ayr United.

MOTM: Stuart McKenzie.

After a long, action packed afternoon at Balmoor where Peterhead looked to have the match under wraps, Ayr United scored in the 6th and final minute of injury time to force an additional 30 minutes of extra time. With neither side able to control the match after the full 90 played, a scrappy first half of extra time continued into the second. In similar fashion as their late equaliser, Ayr United took the lead through Bryden who finished from close range to break the deadlock and put Ayr through to the 4th round of the Scottish Cup.

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