Ayr United 2 - 0 Morton

Ayr United 2 - Roberts (26), McManus (49 pen)
Morton 0

Att: 2,145

Going Down With the Airdrie?
: A 2-0 loss at relegation rivals Ayr United means that Morton have been drawn back into the relegation dog fight. The Ton failed to take their chances in the first half and failed to turn up in the second half.

James Grady made a couple of changes to the team that put in an abject performance at home to Dunfermline last week. New signing Donovan Simmonds replaced Iain Russell up front, while Michael Tidser came back into the starting eleven for his first taste of action since he was subbed off in the 2-1 win against Raith Rovers at the end of January. Tidser was included at the expense of close friend Carlo Monti, who was replaced after just half an hour last week and was rumoured to have got changed and went straight home. The change meant a bit of a rejig in the midfield as Jim McAlister moved back to the left and Stevie Masterton moved to out to the right. However, Masterton played very narrow and gave the look of a team playing with three central midfielders and no one on the right.

The final result could've been so different if Peter Weatherson's 11th minute dipping volley went in off the post rather than bouncing off it and back out to safety.

That near miss appeared to be a sign of things to come as we continued to pass up chance after chance. Peter had another great opportunity in the 18th minute, but he fired straight at Ayr goalkeeper Craig Samson after Simmonds had played him in after some fine hold up play.

Ton's top scorer was unlucky to see a left foot shot deflected wide for a corner two minutes later.

Then, just one minute after that, Tidser - whose composed performance was one of positives I took from the game - clipped a sublime pass over the top for Simmonds to run on to, but the Englishman lacked the required composure and blasted his shot wide. There was a definite sense of déjà vu seconds later as Simmonds placed a weak effort into Samson's body after McAlister slid a pass into his path from out on the left. He really should've scored, and it was at this point that you could sense the unease in the away end as everyone was getting the sense that we would live to regret these misses.

And so it proved. Morton went to sleep when Alan Reid conceded a needless thrown in out on the Morton left. Mark Roberts received a quick throw in and quickly swivelled before sending a stunning left foot volley soaring over Colin Stewart's head and into the net for a totally undeserved lead. The Ton number one has to be questioned for his positioning as he appeared to be standing much too far off his line (see picture, below).

Morton went straight on the attack and almost equalised seconds later. McAlister ran down the left and cut back on himself before drilling an excellent right footed cross to the back post where Weatherson managed to outjump his marker, but his header skimmed the roof of the net after going inches over.

It was very disappointing to see the Ton go in 1-0 down at half-time. We had dominated the half and create numerous goalscoring chances. Ayr, on the other hand, had been pretty abysmal but created one half chance - if you can even call it that - and scored from it.

Things went from bad to worse four minutes into the second half when Tam McManus sent Stewart the wrong way from the penalty spot after Dominic Shimmin was penalised for a foul on Steve Bowey. I didn't have a great view of the foul, but I thought it looked quite soft. Soft or not, it was certainly unnecessary as Bowey appeared to be facing away from the Morton goal on the edge of our box.

In the 59th minute, Simmonds used his pace to get in behind the Ayr defence but, as with the other chances he'd missed, he seemed to go to pieces in front of goal and smashed the ball wide with the outside of his right foot. Failing to score was bad enough, but missing the target completely was criminal. It's encouraging that he is actually getting these chances, though. The 21-year-old is astute enough to time his runs and use his pace to get in behind - but he has to start hitting the target. I got the impression that he's a confidence player, who could be capable of going on a good goalscoring run after getting his first goal.

Ayr had two chances to wrap up the win in 64th and 65th minutes. First Bowey lobbed inches wide after a defensive mix up involving Colin Stewart saw the ball break to the blonde haired midfielder with the goal at his mercy. Then substitute Danny McKay cut in from the left before curling an effort inches wide of the far post.

Our only other chance worth writing about came in the 84th minute. Referee Steven Nicholls waved away penalty claims when Simmonds appeared to be man handled in the box, and the ball came out to Masterton who curled an effort towards the top corner from 25 yards. But Samson was never really troubled and comfortably got across to push the ball over the bar.

Insult was added to injury when Stewart Greacen was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 85th minute.

Our second half performance got exactly what it deserved - nothing. The win meant that Ayr closed the gap between the two clubs to 2 points. The Honest Men have a game in hand, against Partick Thistle at Somerset on Wednesday, and a win there would see them leapfrog the Ton into 8th place. We need to get our act together quick, or we might just end up making the Ayr fans' prediction, that we're going down with the Airdrie, a reality.

Morton (4-4-2):

1. Colin Stewart - 5
2. Ryan McGuffie - 6
3. Alan Reid - 5 (14. Brian Graham - 74 mins)
4. Dominic Shimmin - 7
5. Stewart Greacen - 5
6. Michael Tidser - 7
7. Allan Jenkins - 6 (15. Kevin Finlayson - 67 mins)
8. Stevie Masterton - 6
9. Peter Weatherson - 5 (16. David MacGregor - 89 mins)
10. Donovan Simmonds - 6
11. Jim McAlister - 6

Unused Subs:

12. Erik Paartalu
20. Kevin Cuthbert

Booked: Shimmin, Greacen.

Sent Off: Greacen (84)

McGuffie Greacen Shimmin Reid
Masterton Jenkins Tidser McAlister
Weatherson Simmonds

Ayr United: Craig Samson; Chris Mitchell, Daniel Lafferty, Martyn Campbell, Ryan McGowan; Dean Keenan (Kenneth Connolly, 80), Andrew Aitken, Steven Bowey, Ryan Borris; Tam McManus (Junior Mendes, 83), Mark Roberts (Daniel McKay, 41).

Unused Subs: Alistair Woodburn, Stephen Grindlay.

Booked: Bowey, McManus, McGowan.

My man of the match: Michael Tidser

Sponsor's man of the match:

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

bbc sport - Match Report

Dave Sargent's Ayr United pics

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