Betfred League Cup Second Round



by Calum Campbell

Pictures: David Sargent

RAMPANT United strolled into the quarter-finals of the Betfred Cup with a comprehensive victory over Dundee at the Kilmac Stadium at Dens Park.

This was a victory of quality and dominance over a lacklustre Dundee outfit who for most of the match, were made to look like the team from a lower league.

And, while the role played by Ayr’s prolific striker Lawrence Shankland will be highlighted for his brace of goals, make no mistake, this was an exceptional team performance without a failure in any department. This was a team looking comfortable against a side from the Premiership.

This was a game that Ayr fans will talk about for years.

Never, in living memory, has a United journey to Dens been as comfortable.

Ayr battled, harried, and mobbed the Tayside men in a manner that seemed to confuse, startle and force every ounce of composure from their bones. This lack of composure and achievement turned to frustration, later elevated to farcical stupidity, with the dismissals of Sofian Moussa and central defender Genserix Kusungu.

The opening 45 minutes saw United create numerous chances and easily match 'Dee, who struggled to create much in the final third where United were strong, with Michael Rose and Jamie Adams bolting the back door with determination and skill.

United were fast and furious moving forward, Alan Forrest, Andy Geggan, Robbie Crawford, Michael Moffat, and Shankland all going close.

It took Dundee 22 minutes to have a shot on goal, Craig Wighton's shot was low and hard but goalie Ross Doohan smothered easily.

Next came Dundee’s best effort in the game. Ralph played the ball to Nabi, whose glorious right-footed curling drive which bent just past the far post.

In 38 minutes, Moffat chased a Daniel Harvie pass down the wing. Kusunga slipped, leaving Moffat with a free run to the edge of the six-yard line. He turned the ball back to the edge of the penalty box and Andy Murdoch's shot went over.

United went ahead in 51 minutes. Ross Doohan claimed an assist as he blasted a long goal kick forward, it flew over the heads of the jumping Moffat and Curran, bounced some 35 yards out and into the penalty area, where Shankland had sneaked behind Kusunga and Meekings. Within seconds the ball was in the back of the net, courtesy of a powerful Shankland shot.

Dundee had lost it.

Cue the introduction of Moussa in 62 minutes, and a surreal 15 minutes of action for the hot-headed Tunisian striker. Within 60 seconds the substitute had pulled and hacked at Harvie and ended up in a face-to-face confrontation. Free-kick and first warning. Without yet playing a ball that hadn’t resulted in a free-kick the next two minutes saw him dangerously challenge twice, resulting in two more free-kicks, the last of these an elbow to Geggan’s head. Referee Beaton flashed a yellow-card.

The Tunisian then made another lunging tackle, again on Harvie. In 74 minutes he was shown a red card. A long kick forward by Hamilton was headed clear by Mark Kerr, only for the striker to jump in late and batter the midfielder from behind.

Four minutes from time, Murdoch won the aerial challenge, Geggan, Moffat, and substitute Steven Bell, worked the ball left for Crawford, who was surrounded instantly by four defenders. Crawford dropped the ball back to Moffat who found Harvie in space on the left, all the defenders having been sucked in to try and stop Crawford. Harvie’s low and powerful drive into the box was met by Shankland who stabbed home.

Ayr then worked the ball out from the back, a long ball into midfield was turned wide by Shankland and Declan McDaid sprinted into the box before firing it across to Moffat who tapped home from two feet before Dundee pressed the self-destruct button. Three minutes into added time, Kusunga nastily and unnecessarily chopped through Moffat from behind and received a straight red card.