So, our mini slump is growing I'm afraid and it's getting to the point where you're looking at the fixtures and wondering where the next 3 points are going to come from. Realistically it isn't going to be Peterhead next week, but Stranraer on the Tuesday is becoming a must win for us.
And so to today's game. Make no mistake we played well but ultimately we were well beaten. Very well beaten in fact. Ayr were better than us in every department from front to back. They dominated the game and although we played well in parts, passing the ball nicely at times, we just weren't at the races today, haha!
The game was effectively over as a contest after just 5 minutes. Ayr eased off a bit after that which was fortunate as I feared the worst. They'll be pleased with their 3-1 victory but they'll probably wonder why it wasn't more. On another day it could have been.
Ayr kicked off and went forward although the move broke down quite quickly. There were a few passages of play which came to nothing for both teams and then Ayr won a very soft free kick just inside our half. They played a fairly rudimentary and speculative ball into our box and to be honest I could cut and paste this next few sentences from any number of posts I've made after recent games. We failed completely to clear the ball. Two Rovers defenders went for the ball and seemed to get in each other's way. Under no pressure whatsoever they simply teed the ball up on the edge of the box for the Ayr striker who finished well to be fair giving Ross no chance. That was 1-0 and we had barely played 3 minutes.
From the kick off we went forward and strung a few passes together before winning a corner which led to a half chance for Gemmell. The ball broke to John at the edge of the box and he fired a left foot shot just over. So the signs were encouraging at that point but it wasn't to last. Ayr went forward and strung a few decent passes together themselves. We backed off as we have a habit of doing and with nothing on, the Ayr striker hit a screamer from fully 25 yards. The ball whistled past Ross and again there wasn't much he could do. On another day that shot had 'row z' written all over it but it was a cracking strike so credit where it is due. Seven minutes gone at that point and I was fearing the worst.
The game was really over there and then and although we played decent enough football at times with some good passing moves, Ayr always looked comfortable with their lead. We didn't threaten much and I can't remember their keeper having a single save to make.
Gemmell had another half chance when a ball played in beat the keeper and saw John and an Ayr defender chase it down. The ball broke kindly for the defender and he was able to clear it. And then from another corner the ball evaded everyone and came to Mick who was about 5 yards out in the middle of the goal. The ball more hit off him than was headed by him and ended up past the post. So we had our chances but couldn't convert them.
Gemmell's day was about to get worse when he went down injured after about 15 minutes. There didn't seem to be much in a challenge but he went down, went off and was replaced by McRobbie. Strangely Gemmell was wearing number 16 today which I presume he felt was maybe a lucky shirt for him. I presume the shirt is now in the bin. Gemmell walked round the park and up the tunnel with ice strapped to his ankle, hopefully he'll be fit for next week. He did look lively today and we missed him when he went off.
The rest of the half was fairly ordinary but with half time looming Ayr broke forward and again with nothing on rattled a shot off the crossbar from at least 25 yards. We didn't react that quickly which allowed Ayr to capitalise and force the ball home from a few yards. So 3-0 at half time which flattered Ayr a bit but you couldn't argue they deserved to be in front.
Into the second half and both teams just seemed to be going through the motions. Ayr had a few chances and we rode our luck at times. What concerns me a little is that we don't really have a plan b. We made a few changes but kept the same shape. McRobbie then suffered the ignominy of being substituted as a substitute himself and Ally came on. I couldn't really determine a shape to our play after that but Ally's industry caused Ayr a few problems. Ally then managed to get on the end of another decent passing phase from the Rovers to beat the keeper from close range. That was with just about 5 or so minutes to go and was a consolation at best. Nevertheless it does show the boys keep playing to the end.
On a day when we played well in patches but no one really stood out we dished out not just one but two player of the match awards. Josh got the sponsors man of the match which was fair enough as most of our decent work involved him. The match ball sponsor also gave an award - maybe to Paul Willis, I actually can't remember. It was a bit strange to say the least. Josh's award went down well with the Ayr fans. He had a bit of a running spat with the Ayr defenders throughout the game and did eventually get booked but it was all rather tame.
Attendance today was just under 500. I thought it looked more than that and at least half I would have said were Ayr fans.
Just to end then with a plea to Darren to continue (start?) working on defending both cross and high balls into the box much better than we are at the moment. In fairness though it would be wrong to be too critical. Today I think was just one of those bad days at the office and our league position, although under threat, is probably better than many of us would have thought at this stage in the season. And Ayr are a quality side, probably the best I have seen at Cliftonhill this season, and that includes Morton.
A decent performance in Peterhead followed by 3 points from the Stranraer game should see us back on track.
Fair reflection of the game by d7. Just to add a wee bit from what i remember... Ball sponsors motm Scott McBride Which was probably deserved. After a few passes, ball fired into him just inside box he poked ball through to Love who duly slotted home. Actually quite a neat goal. He fizzed the corner in for Dunlop who didnt connect with the ball as he could have, think it went out passed the post. But the best chance of the game for rovers came after a training ground short corner between Willis and McBride the latter dinked the ball over for Gemmell at edge of box, but he couldn't find the target. Not the best performance of the season but Ayr are a good side and got off to I flyer. As d7 said on another day the long range shots would have found row z.