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Match Report - Ayr 0-1 Kilmarnock

Monday 30th January 2012
25057 were at Hampden to witness the League Cup semi final between Ayrshire rivals Ayr and Kilmarnock. The biggest crowd in 5 years for a club match without the Old Firm involved. They oversaw a stuffy affair as the part timers Ayr United defended with huge spirit and kept their superior full time rivals at bay for 108 minutes. A combination of brilliant defending and fantastic goalkeeping kept Killie out until Dean Shiels struck for the SPL side.

The game was relatively even for 20 minutes as Kilmarnock struggled to worry Ayr until James Dayton's looping cross had to be headed behind by Ayr defender John Robertson. Killie dominated the first 45 minutes without worrying Ayr keeper Kevin Cuthbert. The only golden chance in the first half fell to Killie as on loan full back Ben Gordon weaved his way to the edge of the 6 yard box but his effort was blocked by Cuthbert.
The second half started as you were. Killie passsing and probing but rarely penetrating Ayr's well drilled backline. But on the hour mark Kilmarnock should have scored. Dean Shiels long ranged effort was parried by Cuthbert straight to Gary Harkins but the keeper somehow recovered to block the shot from 6 yards whilst on the ground. The huge Hampden pitch contributed to Ayr's fitness levels as the part time side found it more and more difficult to keep up with their superior rivals. Cuthbert tipped over 2 long ranged efforts and also clawed away a Pascali header before denying Heffernan and Gordon brilliant opportunities. The goalkeeper was in inspired form as Ayr showed huge reselience to keep Kilmarnock out for 90 minutes.

In the first minute of extra time David Silva dragged an effort wide from 16 yards whilst Garry Hay and Heffernan blazed over from close range in the first period of extra time. Ayr's midfield could barely move they were clinging onto the possibility of a penalty shoot out and praying to hold out for another 15 minutes to claim a 4th SPL scalp on this memorable cup run. Kilmarnock were growing increasingly disgruntled and frustrated that they were not ahead by Ayr's dogged. commited and determined defence.

But the decisive moment arrived in the 108th minute. Heffernan turned inside the Ayr half who fed in Shiels whose first effort was saved by Cuthbert, the ball broke to Heffernan who was yet again denied by Cuthbert however it proved to be third time lucky as the ball broke to Shiels who scored from 8 yards with the keeper sprawling. It was sheer relief rather than celebration for the SPL team. A minute later Ayr created their best opportunity, Mark Roberts wriggled his way to the goal line and floated in a cross to the back post where David Silva headed off his own post.

Kilmarnock progress to the final where they will face Celtic who beat Falkirk 3-1.
Calum McClurkin

Total articles: 15

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