Blues are put to the sword

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Ayr United 5, Stranraer 0

Stranraer had enjoyed the upper hand in the previous two encounters with Ayr United but the Somerset Park side were not in the mood to let that continue.

The Blues were weakened by the loss of Steven Bell (suspension) and Grant Gallagher (illness) from the midfield while Ayr were buoyed by the return of top scorer Michael Moffat.

Even so, the league positions and current form were both upturned by the respective performances. Stranraer barely got going on a day they will want to forget as quickly as possible while Ayr dominated from start to finish.

Stranraer gave United a couple of early scares when Jamie Longworth was closed out by Alan Lithgow and then Martin Grehan won a challenge with goalkeeper David Hutton that he just couldn’t convert.

But they were quickly forgotten when Ayr were awarded a penalty on their first attack. Scott Rumsby fouled Moffat and the striker put the spot kick past David Mitchell.

Stranraer earned an opportunity at the other end when Stephen Stirling was upended just outside the box but his namesake Andy struck the freekick wide.

Mitchell flicked away a Craig Malcolm effort as the striker tried to claim his first goal against his former club but he wasn’t to be denied for very long. Slack defending by Stranraer allowed Michael McGowan to square the ball to him and from eight yards he lashed the ball home.

Stranraer created a great chance in reply to this with a neat move that saw Grehan lay the ball into the path of David McKenna who hit a fine strike but Hutton was equal to it.

On the half-hour bad turned to worse for the Blues as the home side scored again. An innocuous header was won by Moffat and the ball ran into the path of Michael Donald, who prodded the ball past Mitchell.

As the Honest Men drove forward, Gordon Pope combined with Donald to set up Adam Hunter but his effort was too high. The best flowing move of the game saw Moffat run wide left and outwit Rumsby. He crossed for Malcolm who laid a first-time pass into the path of Donald who hit the bar.

Stranraer made a double change at half-time but Ayr didn’t have to wait much longer to score again as Moffat jinked past three defenders and slotted the ball under Mitchell.

A couple of minutes later the situation became desperate. A long ball from Kyle McAusland was headed into the path of Moffat. As the striker danced past Frank McKeown, the Blues skipper brought him down and his afternoon was ended when the referee flashed a red card.

The visitors’ only response had been a long range shot from Mark Docherty and with little more than pride to play for Stranraer gave young Adam Forde a full half-hour to show what he could do.

Ayr again rampaged forward and scored. Pope crossed and their substitute, 17-year-old Alan Forrest, brother of Celtic’s and Scotland’s James, swept the ball home with composure to seal a convincing victory.

Blues manager Stephen Aitken admitted it was sore experience but the schedule recently had been tough and with a few players out this game had come at the wrong time. A very disappointing result and performance but the league table still makes good reading and Stranraer will be ready to bounce back next game.

Ayr United: David Hutton, Kyle McAusland, Gordon Pope, Martyn Campbell (Alan Forrest 68) Alan Lithgow, Brian Gilmour, Michael McGowan, Adam Hunter, Michael Moffat, Craig Malcolm, Michael Donald.

Booked: None

Goals: Moffat 8 pen, 59, Malcolm 20, Donald 30, Forrest 76

Stranraer: David Mitchell, Scott Robertson, Mark Docherty, Scott Rumsby (David MacGregor 46), Frank McKeown, Stephen Stirling (Lloyd Kinnaird 46), Sean Winter, Jamie Longworth, Martin Grehan (Adam Forde 66), David McKenna, Andy Stirling. Subs not used: Ryan Borris, Chris Fahey

Booked: Rumsby

Sent off: McKeown

Attendance: 1141

Referee: B Colvin