Dundee United pick up their first league win of the season, scoring three unanswered goals against a dogged Ayr United team.
By Gordon Aitchison
A dominant first half saw the Tangerines well on their way to their first league victory of the new season. Similar to last week, United attacked from the first minute and had their first meaningful effort on goal as early as the fourth minute. Cammy Smith drove in from the left, played the ball onto the onrushing Van Der Velden who in turn rolled a clever pass to Fraser but the United midfielder’s effort was well saved by Fleming in the Ayr goal.
United took a deserved lead on twelve minutes, Fraser’s shot was met with claims of handball, but the ref waved the appeals away. Robson collected the ball and played it into Smith, eight yards from goal, his clever touch took him past Boyle and the Ayr man’s clumsy challenge gave the referee little choice but to point to the spot. Van der Velden stepped up, but his well hit shot was saved by Fleming; the ever alert Murray reacted fastest and rushed in to nod the ball into the net.
What then followed was a procession of chances for United, headers from Donaldson, shots from Fraser, Murray and Van Der Velden giving the overworked Fleming little peace in the Ayr goal.
Flood was cautioned after twenty minutes; unfortunate, as the tackle on Boyle was mistimed rather than malicious. Harkins had the only meaningful effort on the United goal after half an hour, picking up on loose play from Murdoch and striding in to unleash a fizzing effort which Bell did well to parry away to safety.
Jamie Robson scored his first goal for the Club eight minutes before the break. Van Der Velden was again the key man. Picking up the ball twenty from goal, he made space for himself and fed a superb reverse ball into the path of Flood. Willo’s ball across goal was deflected into the path of the United youngster and he made no mistake rifling the ball home from eight yards out.
Half Time: Dundee United 2 – 0 Ayr United
Ian McCall made two changes at half time, bringing on Thomas and Gilmour for Forrest and Crawford and for the initial exchanges of the half it appeared to have an impact as the Honest Men gained a foot hold in the match. The impressive Thomas showed great control and set up Nisbett, but Donaldson stopped the attack with a fine last ditch challenge. Harkins then set up Thomas but his effort went high and wide. The two players again combined this time it was the former Dundee player who struck his attempt high into the Eddie Thompson stand, much to the delight of the United fans.
United had a penalty claim on sixty three minutes when Murray appeared to be tripped trying to latch onto a clever pass from Smith. But referee Greig Aitken played on. Ross Docherty was booked for a late challenge on Flood as United started to take control again.
Ray McKinnon changed things around with eighteen minutes remaining, bringing on Obedayi and Spittal for Fraser and Cammy Smith. Tope made an almost instant impact, turning Devlin inside out and firing across the area, where Willo Flood was waiting to crash the ball high into the net to put the game beyond Ayr.
The remainder of the game was played out in the United half as Ayr attempted to gain at least a consolation goal. McGuffie had the best effort from fully 30 yards which looked to worry Bell but it flew just wide of the right hand upright.
The final whistle was met with cheers as United claimed their first win of the league campaign.
Final Score: Dundee United 3 – 0 Ayr United
Summary: United came out of the blocks well and put pressure on Ayr early on. A two goal cushion did not sum up their dominance at half time but they slackened off at the beginning of the second period, which could have put them in more difficulty. Willo’s goal put paid to any Ayr fightback and United will welcome the three points.
Man of the Match: Sean Dillon. Seasoned performance from our club captain, looked strong in the air and led the back line well when pressured in the second half.
United: Bell, Dillon ©, Donaldson, Toshney, Murdoch, Murray, Fraser (Obedayi 72), Smith ( Spittal 72), Flood (Telfer 79), Van Der Velden, Robson
Unused Subs: Zwick, Durnan, Coote, Smith
Ayr United: Fleming, Devlin©, Murphy, Forrest (Thomas 45), Harkins, Nisbett ( McGuffie 78), Docherty, Adams, Cairney, Crawford (Gilmour 45), Boyle
Unused Subs: Hart, Rose, Meggatt, O’Connell
Referee: Greig Aitken