Ladbrokes Championship



By Stewart McConnell

Pictures: David Sargent

FANS celebrated last season’s Ladbrokes League One title in the sunshine at Somerset Park but things did not go at all according to plan at the pre-match ceremony.

United Managing Director Lewis Grant needed help to unfurl the flag and eventually mission was accomplished.

However on the football field it was a case of business a usual as Ayr opened the league campaign with a win which maintains their 100 percent record following a dream start to 2018-19.

And once again transfer target Lawrence Shankland was on the scoresheet, this time bagging both goals.

This was a mouthwatering clash which saw the league newcomers go head-to-head, with Ayr hosting a Thistle side they had beaten in the cup seven days earlier, with the visitors relegated from the Premiership last season.

The first chance came the way of Thistle in two minutes when Chris Storey shot across the face of goal from just outside the box.

Shankland made a darting run to the edge of the box in six minutes, however Sean McGinty booted the ball clear. However a minute later, United were awarded a penalty after Robbie Crawford was hauled down inside the box and top scorer Shankland blasted the ball home from the penalty spot.

Declan McDaid shot high and wide from 18 yards just two minutes later as Ayr kept pressing.

Shankland then made a surging run after turning Max Melbourne inside out and sent a pass to Alan Forrest inside the box but his effort was blocked.

However in 20 minutes McDaid sent a superb pass to Shankland and he sent a 12-yard shot into the roof of the net.

Thistle had a half chance in 26 minutes when a low Chris Erskine drive from 20 yards was smothered by home goalie Ross Doohan.

A shot from the edge of the box from Forrest was well saved by ex-Kilmarnock goalie Cammy Bell In 38 minutes. The same player sent another effort from a similar distance whistling just wide a minute later.

United picked up from where they had left off after the break and in 49 minutes, McDaid shot inches over the bar from six yards.

At times, United’s play was a joy to behold as they passed last season’s top flight side off the park.

Michael Moffat then saw his 12-yard rocket well handled by Bell in 56 minutes. Bell foiled Forrest from eight yards a minute later.

Thistle had one of their best chances on the hour when substitute Aidan Fitzpatrick shot across the face of goal from 18 yards.

McDaid was adjudged offside in 63 minutes but there didn’t look to be much in it.

Forrest sent a chip just over McDaid’s head six yards from goal a minute later as Ayr continued to dominate.

Shankland saw his shot from 12 yards easily saved by Bell in 77 minutes.

At the other end Erskine shot wildly over the bar from 10 yards a minute later, as the hosts easily saw the game out.