Matchzone: Ayr United (H)
Kilmarnock suffered defeat in their final cinch SPFL Reserve Cup group stage match on Tuesday 28th November.
Mark McKenzie’s double overcame a Bobby Wales opener, as the visitors secured progression from Group A.
A core group of academy graduates were guided by the experience of first-team players Jack Sanders and Corrie Ndaba who gained valuable playing minutes, while Derek McInnes also cast his eye over two trialists who were handed starting positions.
The first flash of goalmouth action resulted in the opener with five minutes on the clock. Bobby Wales collected a loose pass before confidently striking a left-footed effort into the top left corner from the edge of the Chadwick Stand box (1-0).
The visitors pulled level after quarter of an hour. Mark McKenzie capitalised on hesitancy inside the box, pouncing on a half-clearance and smashing a volley in off the near post (1-1).
Killie came close to rediscovering the lead five minutes after conceding. Steven Warnock’s cross-come-shot was parried to safety as it travelled towards Robbie Mutch’s bottom corner.
A half-chance is all that fell for Ayr in the remaining minutes of the half. A quick turn from Paul Smith created room for a shot on the edge of the box, which was calmly gathered by Aidan Glavin at the first attempt.
The game slowly picked up pace after the restart, taking 7 minutes to re-engage the Frank Beattie Stand support, who were up in arms when Zander Craik was cynically hauled to the floor by Lyall Holding as the powerful attacker burst through the defence.
The hosts came millimeters from retaking the lead with just under an hour played. Trialist No.7 received a pass on the right side of the box, before curling a left-footed shot which clipped the far side of the post.
Bobby Wales found the target a minute later, turning his marker before seeing a driven 25-yard strike claimed by the Ayr ‘keeper. The next opportunity of the match also fell to the Killie No.10. A sublime pass from Aaron Quigg cut through the away defence, with Bobby Wales rounding the keeper but unable to find a shot while under pressure from a covering defender.
Steven Warnock also found a route past Robbie Mutch as the hour mark approached. Killie’s No.8 clipped a ball around the onrushing ‘keeper, before being clattered as he broke towards goal. Appeals for a penalty were waved away, enticing jeers from the home crowd.
The home side were punished during Ayr’s venture into the final third with just over 10 minutes to play. Ayr regained possession deep in the Killie half, with Mark McKenzie subsequently rifling a low shot into Aidan Glavin’s bottom left corner from just inside the box (1-2).
Half-glimpses of goal appeared in the final 10 minutes. Ben Brannan’s deflected 30-yard strike was comfortably gathered by Robbie Mutch. At the opposite end, Aiden Glavin pulled off a tremendous full-stretch save, turning the ball around his far post to keep the game in sight.
The final chance of the game came via a corner at the Moffat Stand end. A powerful cross bounced towards Bobby Wales whose unorthodox backheel agonisingly skipped narrowly wide.
Full-time: Kilmarnock 1–2 Ayr United
Kilmarnock lineup: Glavin, E.Brown, *Trialist (Mersey 78), Ndaba, Sanders, Quigg, *Trialist (Leslie 63), Wales, Craik (Brannan 70), Warnock, A.Brown.
Ayr United lineup: Mutch, Holding, Rose, Chalmers, Smith, Ecrepont, McKenzie, Senga, Bryden, Jenkins, Ahui.
You can find the goals – HERE