Ladbrokes League One



By Stewart McConnell

EPIC anthem Heroes by the late David Bowie was played at full blast around the ground just before Ayr United entered stage left to host leaders Raith Rovers.

And after a gripping 90 minutes every one of the players were heroes as they handed out a comprehensive beating to the Stark's Park side.

Up front they were electric, link play in midfield was different class and at the back defenders and forward players were putting their bodies on the line.

Their courage was epitomised by courageous goalscorer Lawrence Shankland who played the second half with a bandage following an accidental challenge and needed three stitches on a head wound.

This was billed as a potential winner-takes-all top-of-the-table clash with victory for the hosts moving them within a point of Rovers with a game in hand and a win for the visitors taking them seven points clear having played a game more.

So the stakes could hardly have been higher.

A great move in the opening minute saw Declan McDaid surge to the edge of the box before shooting just over the bar. Then a great move from Robbie Crawford forced a corner in three minutes but nothing came of it. Then a Shankland shot from 10 yards a minute later was well saved by Aaron Lennox.

At the other end in six minutes a Kevin McHattie free-kick from the edge of the box was blocked by the Ayr wall.

Jamie Adams was fouled near the centre circle in eight minutes but no action was taken.

Michael Moffat teed up Shankland whose weak effort from eight yards was well saved in nine minutes. Then a minute later Lennox got down well to deny McDaid from eight yards. It was 100 miles an hour stuff.

A Shankland shot from inside the box was hooked away by a Rovers defender in 16 minutes.

Somerset Park was rocking and there was an electric atmosphere with a sizeable Raith Rovers support.

Shankland was booked for fouling Ross Matthews outside the box in 25 minutes but it looked as if the visiting defender made too much of it, rolling around on the turf.

Adams was yellow-carded for fouling Regan Hendry in 27 minutes. United were awarded a free-kick just outside the box when McDaid was fouled just outside the box by McHattie in 34 minutes. And Somerset Park erupted when the set-piece from McDaid was powerfully headed home from eight yards by Shankland.

United doubled their tally in 43 minutes when the visiting defence failed to deal with a cross and it broke to Adams who slide tackled a shot home from 10 yards, despite Lennox getting a hand to the ball.

Shankland had a bandage on his head at the start of the second half.

Then in 53 minutes United soared into a 3-0 lead when Michael,Moffat headed the ball home from eight yards after being set up by Shankland.

The hosts came close again in 58 minutes when a Shankland shot from 12 yards was fumbled then recovered by Lennox.

A free-kick from 25 yards by Lewis Vaughan was confidently clutched by Jack Ruddy, who had a quiet afternoon, in 64 minutes.

United were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box for a foul on Moffat in 67 minutes. But the set-piece from Michael Rose was blocked by the Raith wall.

Willis Furtado was booked for a lunge on McDaid, who needed treatment five minutes later.

Shankland ran on to a long through ball before having his 12-yard shot well saved by the visiting goalie in 80 minutes.

A header by Michael Rose from eight yards flashed inches wide from 12 yards in 82 minutes as Ayr easily saw the game out.