Hosts, Kilmarnock welcomed rivals Ayr United for the first Ayrshire Derby since the opening day of the 2017/18 season. A 39th minute Andy Geggan header in front of the travelling supporters at Somerset Park was enough to see a victory for today’s visitor as Kilmarnock looked to return the favour.
Tommy Wright’s men would start life in the Championship without Rory McKenzie, Tomas Brindley and Callum Waters. Visitors Ayr headed into the Ayrshire Derby in full strength with the earlier addition of Jonathan Afolabi making the bench.
As expected things began in a hectic manner at the BBSP stadium. With an improved 3,692 fans in attendance, both sides battled frantically for every second ball.
The first action of the match came just five minutes in. Advancing into the Ayr box, Chris Burke unleashed a snapshot which appeared to strike the hand of Ayr defender, Sean McGinty. Referee Don Robertson disagreed, much to the disbelief of the vocal home fans, awarding a corner instead.
The home side continued to threaten, producing a number of dangerous crosses from the right but were unable to take advantage of a nervous Ayr outfit.
The pick of Killie’s chances came in the 25th minute. Recipient of some criticism recently, Innes Cameron leaped highest from the corner, producing a powerful header forcing Charlie Albinson into a strong hand from point blank range, keeping his clean sheet intact.
Just before half time, Ayr had a penalty shout of their own. New signing Adeloye fell to the floor in the midst of a scramble in the home box leaving David Hopkin furious.
Shortly after the break, Kilmarnock fans were left holding their heads in disbelief. Jinking in and out of the Ayr defence, Burke produced an inch perfect cross. Free in the six yard box, Cameron Innes, failed to connect properly, sending his header remarkably wide of the goal.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 56th minute. A quick build up on the edge of the Ayr box led to Blair Alston charging through. He landed the ball at the feet of Liam Polworth who made no mistake, calmly slotting the ball into the bottom corner sending the stands into jubilation.
The home sides dominance continued and were rightly rewarded in the 85th minute with a penalty. Alston’s strike from the edge of the box was blocked by the stretching hand of Jack Baird, leaving Don Robertson no option but to point to the spot. Up stepped Innes Cameron, confirming the win with a perfectly placed penalty beating the stretching arms of Albinson.
Man of the match – Chris Burke
The winger caused problems for the Honest Men all evening, driving at the backline aiming to make that breakthrough. The 37-year old tonight proved he still has the legs for the big occasions, hogging the ball on the touchline and creating numerous chances from a wide position.
Referee: Don Robertson