Adeloye bags two as Ayr see off City

The returning fans at Somerset Park had something to cheer about as Ayr United ran out 3-0 winners against Edinburgh City in the Premier Sports Cup. Jack Donnelly reports.

A Tomi Adeloye double and a late Andy Murdoch strike sealed Ayr’s first competitive win of the 2021/22 season.
(Photo Credit – Jack Donnelly)

Pre-Match

For the first time as Ayr United manager, David Hopkin had fans to welcome him and his side out onto the Somerset Park pitch and given the result on Saturday afternoon, he’ll have been hoping to give them something to celebrate.

With neither Ayr nor Edinburgh City coming out victorious in their first Premier Sports Cup match – losing to Albion Rovers on penalties, and Hamilton respectively – both sides would be keen to register their first competitive win of the new season.

Hopkin made two changes to the team that started at Cliftonhill on Saturday afternoon – new goalkeeper Charlie Albinson made his debut for the Honest Men, replacing Aidan McAdams in between the sticks, while Michael Hewitt came in to replace Michael Miller.

As for Edinburgh City, manager Gary Naysmith made just one change from the side that suffered defeat to Hamilton at Ainslie Park – Stephen Bronsky sustained an injury in the previous match, with Lee Hamilton coming in to replace the defender.

The Match

Ayr almost got off to the perfect possible start. Inside the first minute, Cameron Salkeld got onto a long ball forward and raced clear of the Edinburgh City backline. Unfortunately for the forward, Ryan Goodfellow made a decent save to deny him and City could clear. A very positive start for the home side.

Ayr were seeing the bulk of possession in the opening exchanges and were putting together some decent passing moves. Always a threat down the left, Patrick Reading found Aaron Muirhead in the middle of the park after 12 minutes, who, after chopping past one opponent, fed it to Tomi Adeloye on the edge of the area. The striker held the ball nicely, before attempting to slip it through to Salkeld but, under pressure from the City defence, his shot lacked the power or conviction to trouble Goodfellow.

It took 17 minutes for Albinson to be called into action for the first time, as an Edinburgh City free kick was fizzed towards his six-yard box by James Hilton. However, with no-one attacking the ball, Albinson was left uncontested as he held the ball safely to his chest.

Ayr continued to look for the opening goal as the game shot past 20 minutes – both Hewitt and Mark McKenzie had chances to grab themselves a goal, but Hewitt’s shot was curled wide of the post, while McKenzie was challenged for a high ball by Goodfellow, with the keeper coming out on top.

City got their first real effort on goal just after half an hour – Hilton attempted a drive from the edge of the area, but his shot was deflected out to Callum Tapping. Rather than shooting himself, however, Tapping squared it to Alex Ferguson, but his shot sailed harmlessly over Albinson’s goal.

After that slight scare, Ayr looked to get themselves back on top.  Adeloye picked up the ball in the City box, before being marshalled away from goal. He kept hold of the ball, however, feeding it back to Andy Murdoch, who clipped a first-time ball in towards McKenzie. The young forward leapt highest to meet it, but his header was way off target.

Just a minute later, Reading continued to prove himself a nuisance, as he blitzed down the left flank. Cutting infield and weaving past a couple of bodies, the left back let fly on his right foot, forcing Goodfellow to tip the strike over and out for a corner.

From said corner, the Ayr supporters were given what they had sorely missed for all their time spent away – a goal to cheer in the flesh. As the clock ticked into the 37th minute, Reading fired in the corner and Adeloye rose to nod the ball into the top right corner at the near post. Ayr had found a deserved lead and would now be looking to build on it.

City wouldn’t take that goal lying down, however, as for the remainder of the half, they pressed to find an equaliser. They went closest just one minute before Lloyd Wilson brought the half to a close, as Ouzy See tried his luck from 20 yards. Unfortunately for him, the strike rolled slowly along the ground, leaving Albinson with nothing to do but pick the ball up and distribute it back up the pitch.

The half was ended shortly after that See chance, and Ayr had the lead they deserved. Reading was running the game down the left, with McKenzie stepping in to provide another option and overload City’s midfield, while Adeloye’s physical presence up front was an increasingly difficult problem for the away side to deal with. City were having their moments, however, so Ayr would be looking to get another goal as soon as possible.

Despite an early spell of possession from City, Ayr would get that second goal just two minutes into the second half. McKenzie latched onto a great ball from deep inside the Ayr half and despite his initial shot being blocked by a City defender, the ball fell back to the young forward. Drawing Goodfellow in, McKenzie squared it across to an unmarked Adeloye, who tapped it home for his, and Ayr’s, second goal of the night.

Again, Ayr sat in a bit deeper after scoring, allowing City to see more of the ball. 10 minutes after Ayr’s second goal, City were in a great position to score their first, as See held the ball on the right before crossing it into the middle of the box. Ghosting in ahead of his man was captain Robbie McIntyre, but his first-time effort was well off the mark.

An hour in, Ayr were beginning to look a bit sluggish, as City kept the pressure on. Another ball in from the right dropped to Hilson, just inside the box. The midfielder took a couple of touches before curling an effort to the far post, but Jack Baird was on hand to head it behind for what would be an inconsequential corner.

In the 68th minute, Salkeld found himself a bit fortunate as the ball fell back to him following a challenge with a City defender and he bore down on goal. Cutting inside from the right, he let fly on the edge of the box and forced Goodfellow into a great diving save. From the resulting corner, Muirhead flew in from deep to meet the delivery, but his kneed effort flew wide of the mark.

In the 71st minute, Ayr forged another chance, as McKenzie picked up the ball on the left. He weaved his way past a number of City shirts, before turning back on himself in the box and feeding Salkeld through, before his cross to Hewitt was headed behind for another corner. This time, it was Sean McGinty who met the delivery, but his header was also off target.

Two minutes later, City had their best chance of the match. Substitute Lewis Kidd stood over a free kick 25 yards from goal, with his strike coming off the base of the post before Albinson could steer it away from goal.

Another near miss from a free kick came in the 78th minute, as Reading stood over the ball outside of the City box. Curling it with his left, it took the fingertips of Goodfellow to divert the effort, with the resulting corner coming to nothing once again.

Ayr found their third goal with six minutes left to play. McKenzie, on the right this time, played a great one-two with Hewitt, before firing a low ball across the face of goal. Despite taking a deflection on the way through, Murdoch timed his run perfectly, firing the ball into the net at the back post.

Not long after Ayr’s third goal, referee Wilson brought the match to an end, sealing Ayr’s first victory of the new season. The Honest Men put in a professional performance against their opponents, with Adeloye, Reading and McKenzie all impressing the home support. City had a few chances to leave a mark on the home side, but would maintain their unfortunate record of never having scored at Somerset Park.

It would be a week’s wait for Ayr before their next match, as they travel to New Douglas Park to take on fellow Championship side Hamilton on Tuesday, while City face a trip to Cliftonhill to play Albion Rovers on Saturday, looking to inflict a second consecutive defeat on The Wee Rovers, who lost 5-1 to Falkirk while this match played out.

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