Ayr United 1 Montrose 1 (aet) - Montrose win 6-5 on Penalties
Well, that turned out to be quite a game! These League Challenge Cup ties often attract low crowds and lots of team changes are usually made but the game started at Somerset Park in front of a decent looking crowd which included a good travelling support from Montrose (and elsewhere). On a sunny, showery night with a light breeze Ayr United chose to start the game by making only one change from the team which started at home to Arbroath a few days earlier. In came David Ferguson in attack in place of Alan Forrest. Montrose on the other hand made five changes – in came Jordan Millar between the sticks and Kerr Hay, Graham Webster, Craig Johnston and Ross Campbell also started the game.
Manager Stewart Petrie was unable to be there but Montrose were organised by Ross Campbell on the pitch and Sean Dillon from the bench. They lined up with a flat back four of Cammy Ballantyne, Matty Allan, Iain Campbell and Andy Steeves. In midfield were the hard working Craig Johnston, Jamie Redman, Graham Webster and Liam Callaghan whilst up front Montrose had the pace of Kerr Hay with Ross Campbell alongside him. Referee for the night was Grant Irvine who you could tell was vastly experienced and had a good game, only stopping the game when necessary.
Both sides probed each other in the opening exchanges but such ‘friendly fire’ was soon to erupt into more frenetic stuff as Montrose won a free kick just outside the penalty area left of centre. Iain Campbell is your man in such circumstances and he rifled an unstoppable shot into the far top corner to put Montrose a goal up in the second minute. Ayr did not like that one bit and came roaring back by spreading the ball around the width of the pitch but the flat back four for Montrose were equal to it and hit back forcing two corners in quick succession, but which came to nothing. Ayr then had to replace their captain Ross Docherty after only 10 minutes when he took a knock and left the field to be replaced by the hard working Craig McGuffie. It took Ayr a while to settle after that and Montrose took the opportunity to forage more into enemy territory. A long ball from Millar put Ross Campbell away down the right, he fed it to Webster who was well tackled on the point of shooting just inside the box. Johnston was next to get on the end of a flowing Montrose move which ended as the shot flew over the top.
Ayr were beginning to assert themselves again however and Millar had to move smartly to save a point blank effort after 25 minutes but collided with the post in the process and had to receive treatment. The resultant corner was scrambled away. Millar was immediately tested again moments later when a 25 yard shot whistled past his right hand post as he watched it disappear into the terracing behind the goalmouth. The Ayr momentum paid off after 30 minutes when Craig Moore got on the end of a great Ayr move and hit a superb rising shot into the net from the centre of the box with Millar well beaten to level the score at 1-1.
Matty Allan then had to leave the field for treatment to a facial knock as he took what looked like an elbow from Moore. Ayr took the game to 10-man Montrose and Millar saved again at point blank range before Allan returned just before half time. The referee called the break with the score at 1-1. Ayr were perhaps in the ascendancy at that point but Montrose were holding tight and still well in the game.
Montrose started the second half with a corner taken by Kerr Hay which was scrambled away at the far post by the home defence as they scampered away down the left and Moore almost finished it but put his header over the top. From a free kick soon after Ayr almost grabbed the lead as Millar failed to hold a cross but the offside flag was up anyway. It was end to end by the 60 minute mark and at that stage you could not tell which was the full time side. A scrappy period of play then ensued as substitutions were made. Hay came off for Montrose and Templeman came on whilst for Ayr McDaid came off with Gilmour coming on. McGuffie had Ayr’s next chance but fired over from a good position as the Montrose back line kept them largely at arm’s length. A second Montrose substitution brought Ross Campbell off to be replaced by the fresh legs of McLaren as the game entered the last quarter of the ninety minutes. Ayr also made a change with Moffat being replaced by Forrest. Ayr then hit the post twice in quick succession as their efforts to close out the game became more frantic. The game was indeed being played at pace but this fit Montrose side were equal to it. Callaghan and Johnston were putting in sterling work midfield whilst the back four were again outstanding. Iain Campbell this season is playing out of his skin and deservedly has won an extension to his contract.
And so we progressed to extra time with the score at 1-1 after the ninety minutes plus five more for stoppage time. The hard working Johnston was replaced by young Kieran Thomson who immediately saw yellow for a mis-timed tackle. The first fifteen minutes of extra time were a bit of a stalemate however as we progressed into the night. Apparently in this competition you can use a fourth substitute in extra time which is just as well as both teams did it when Ayr responded by bringing on McCowan for Ferguson and not to be out done Montrose brought on their own Ferguson as Webster left the field. Eventually two exhausted sides settled for a draw when Millar flopped on to a loose ball in his six yard box and the full time whistle brought us to the dreaded penalty shoot out.
For Montrose the first five penalties were taken by Iain Campbell, Steeves, Callaghan, Allan and Ferguson with only Allan missing the target. For Ayr only Gilmour missed the target so we were into sudden death. Ayr scored first to put pressure on Jordan Millar who took the next and nearly burst the net with it. Ayr’s Higgins then missed to give McLaren the chance to win it for Montrose and he tucked it away nicely to send the Mo contingent home happily into Round 3.
It was a truly terrific display by Montrose who had no passengers on the night – all meriting MOTM status. If they carry on with this form and determination the crowds will return to Links Park and so too will the good times.
Team Lineups & Stats
IRN-BRU Challenge Cup
Tuesday 29th August 2017
|7||Michael Moffat (s74)
||7||Graham Webster (s108)
|11||Declan McDaid (s70)
||16||Craig Johnston (s99)
||12||Kerr Hay (s67)
|23||Ross Docherty (C) (s11)
||20||Ross Campbell (s74)
|20||Lyle Avci (GK)
|4||Brian Gilmour (s70)
||11||Ryan Ferguson (s108)
|10||Alan Forrest (s74)
||10||Chris Templeman (s67)|
|12||Craig McGuffie (s11)
||23||Kieran Thomson (s99)
||22||Connor McLaren (s74)
||21||Allan Fleming (GK)|
|Montrose Win 6-5 on Penalties|
Stuart Hodge, Ryan Kennedy
Ayr United - Craig Moore (28)
Montrose - Iain Campbell (2)
Ayr United - David Ferguson (115)
Montrose - Chris Templeman (103)