The Ayr players were facing the toughest game of their season and the their opponents provided a very competitive and close fought match played with a tricky wind. Ayr kicked off with a following breeze behind their backs and after two minutes showed their intent with Lee Lockhart shooting narrowly wide. Only a couple of minutes later the trialist forward was unlucky not to score after a great ball in from Lockhart.
Livingston put together some good passing movements and proved to be feisty opponents with both sides attempting to keep the ball on the deck but defences were on top during the opening exchanges. In 10 minutes the Livingston keeper had a great double save from Deci Milligan and as the first half wore on, it became a tight and competitive game with Livingston missing two chances when they really should have been done better.
Milligan again found himself with a bit of room in the box on 25 minutes but the Livingston keeper made a good one handed save to block his goal bound strike. At the other end, James Kinniburgh hadn’t had a real save to make at this point with only a couple of crosses to take.
The referee pointed to the spot which seemed a rather harsh decision as it was clearly a case of ball to arm rather than anything deliberate but with the clock showing 45+2, it wasn’t the ideal time to be conceding a goal. The penalty was struck low to James Kinniburgh’ s right corner but the keeper was equal to it getting his finger tips to it to put it onto the post which was immediately followed by the shrill of the referee’ half time whistle.
After a positive half time team talk by Head Coach Davy Adams the team responded well and started the second half really strongly taking the game to Livingston. With the positional change at half time of moving Cameron Barr into centre midfield and with Lockhart moving wide of Barr to giver a narrower three in midfield, Ayr were a different side and were very determined in the tackle.
Ian Aitken was holding the ball up well and Milligan began to cause problems for the Livingston defence. Scott Aitken was brought down at the edge of the box and the keeper saved well from Lockhart’s free kick. Pressure was building and Ian Aitken was just denied by the keeper when through on goal.
The Ayr side were pressing the ball and denying space to their opponents and in 60 minutes all the good work paid off.
From the right side of the field Lockhart played a great ball into the box which saw the Livvy keeper foul the brave Milligan and earn a penalty for his side. Milligan dusted himself down and slotted home a great strike, sending the keeper the wrong way to give Ayr a 1-0 advantage over Livingston.
Scott Aitken made way for Forsyth and Tyler replaced Milligan who was toiling with a chest condition. Forsyth then went close with a shot over the bar and the referee rightly waved away a Livingston claim for a penalty.
The rest of the second half was similar to the first half with both teams committed to winning the game however, United defended well all over the park and Ayr saw out the remaining minutes comfortably but the referee seemed to take forever to blow the final whistle, playing over 4 minutes injury time but the whistle did eventually blow and the Ayr 17s recorded their 12th win of the season and with this came another clean sheet.
After the final whistle sounded it became clear with the result at Alloa that Ayr had indeed clinched the league title as they discovered that Stirling had lost 3-2 away to Alloa which ensured that the league was won this very day and wouldn’t be decided with the Ayr v Stirling game next week.
Afterwards, Ayr’s Director of Football, John Crawford, who has took a coaching consultant’s role with the 17′s in the second half of the season said,”This was a very good Ayr performance with every player playing their part. That has been a main factor throughout the season with a terrific team spirit. Many good individual performances this week but it was the collective performance on the day which again counted.”
Trying to contain his joy of the team winning the league trophy, he continued,”Winning the 17’s SFL Youth League is a great moment for all concerned with the Academy as it is the first major trophy and league win the Academy have achieved. The team have now won 12 league matches and drawn one out of the total 13 league games played and they still have two to play. The team have scored 38 goals and conceded on just 8 occasions. A great achievement!”
In summing up he said,”Congratulations go to all the players for their efforts over the season and to the coaching staff of Davie Adams, Mark Pringle and Stuart Galloway who have helped immensely with developing the players.”
“Congratulations should also go to Allan Paul for his efforts in coaching the team over a 4 year period and to the Sports Science and Physio input . Thanks also to all the Academy coaches over recent seasons who have worked hard to help with the development of the players. This proves that the hard work has borne fruit.”
Kinniburgh, Hutchinson, Muir, Marlow, Marshall, Barr, Brown, Lockhart, Aitken, A. Trialist, Milligan, Wylie, March, Campbell, Forsyth, McCormack and Smith