Match report by Fraser Denoon.
The rain poured down on Sunday afternoon at Cambusdoon Sports Centre which hosted The Scottish Women’s Second Division 2 West match between Ayr United and Stranraer.
The tone of the game was set early as Ayr United pressed and created a variety of chances but Stranraer and their goalkeeper, Nikki Evans, were holding them off well. The away side then began to get into the game themselves by holding onto the ball more and passing it around but unfortunately, none of their good possession amounted to any chances.
Ayr’s Rachel Scott was using the opponents high defensive line to her advantage and found herself through on goal a few times but could not find the back of the net with Evans saving well each time.
The deadlock was finally broken after Chelsea Keane was put through on goal for Ayr by Mirin Basabe and she finished calmly in the bottom left corner to give her side the edge early on in the match. Within a minute, Keane doubled her side’s lead. She found herself through on goal again thanks to a 40-yard pass from Lauren McBlain and finished again in the bottom left corner past the diving Evans.
Stranraer were given a good chance to get back into the game as they were awarded an indirect free-kick inside the penalty area but they were unable to make use of the chance and the ball evenutally went out for a goal-kick.
Moments later, Ayr’s number 1, Laura Thompson, had to be substituted and on came new signing, Abbie Little, to play between the sticks.
Ayr continued to press the Stranraer defense and created more and more chances to gain a further advantage but Evans was called into action and kept dening the attempts by Ayr.
In the 42nd minute, Caron McIntyre put in her captain, Jodie Barbour, through on goal after using her opponents high defensive line effectively to allow her time and space to pick her shot and scored, sending the keeper the wrong way.
Two minutes later Barbour had a big part to play in their next goal, playing a one-two with Nicola Fisher in the midfield to assist her teammate who finished smartly in the roof of the net, making it 5-0 to Ayr at the break.
Stranraer started the better in the second half, holding onto possession and creating a couple of chances but they were unable to trouble Little in the goal for Ayr.
A common occurance in this match was Stranraer being broken down in midfield and they paid the price again. They lost the ball in midfield and allowed McIntyre to break down the wing, who then crossed it into the box for Scott. Her initial shot was well saved by Evans but she was eventually able to find the net.
Ayr broke down the left hand side again soon after the goal with Fisher crossing the ball in, trying to find McIntyre. She let the ball run and this allowed Barbour to finish smartly inside the box to increase their advantage further.
With less than half an hour gone in the second half, Barbour found herself out on the right hand side of the pitch and delivered a ball across the goalmouth and Evans, who had performed superbly for Stranraer, was unable to clutch it out of the air leaving Scott to tap in the cross.
Stranraer were trying to get a goal back and were looking like they were going to get it with their holding of possession. A big chance came for them from a free-kick in a dangerous area area but it only amounted to a shot on target which well held by Little, despite being hit with a good amount of power.
Full of running, Scott found herself through on goal after a long ball over the defense. With a hat-trick on the cards, she then chipped Evans to score her third and Ayr’s eigth of the match.
As the game entered the final 10 minutes, Ayr were still pressing high and not letting Stranraer have a moments peace on the ball. Chances rained for Ayr but fine saves from Evans kept the home strikers at bay and keep the score as it was.
Ayr’s victory keeps them second in the league, one point behind FC Kilmarnock 23’s with two games remaining. This includes both teams meeting on the final day of the season with the winner likely to lift the league title. Ayr will fancy their chanes, now on a run of four clean sheets and they’ve scored 34 goals in their last six games.