Ayr United 4 - 4 Dumbarton

League - Championship
Saturday, December 24th, 2016, 12:30 PM at Somerset Park
Attendance: 1,441
Referee: Craig Charleston
Ayr United v Dumbarton, Dec 24th 2016, Somerset Park
Ayr United Dumbarton 

Scott McKenna (31)
Gary Harkins (43)
Alan Forrest (74 pen)
Paul Cairney (85)
Robert Thomson  (45)
Daniel Harvie (52)
Joe Thomson  (84)
Ryan Stevenson (88)

Team Managers
Ian McCall Stevie Aitken

Starting Eleven
Greg Fleming
Michael Rose
Conrad Balatoni
Scott McKenna
Daryll Meggat
Robbie Crawford
Gary Harkins
Ross Docherty
Paul Cairney
Kevin Nisbet
Andy O'Connell
Alan Martin
Mark Docherty
Daniel Harvie
Darren Barr
Gregor Buchanan
Andy Stirling
Joe Thomson
Garry Fleming
Josh Todd
David Smith
Robert Thomson

Pat Boyle
Brian Gilmour
Peter Murphy
Alan Forrest
Michael Donald
Jordan Hart
Craig McGuffie
Mark Brown
Craig Pettigrew
Frazer Wright
Lewis Crawford
Donald McCallum
Ryan Stevenson

Pat Boyle for Nisbet (25)
Alan Forrest for O'Connell (66)
Ryan Stevenson for Josh Todd (81)

Michael Rose (40)
Ross Docherty (85)
Daniel Harvie (30)

Red Cards
None. Andy Stirling (73)

Appearances & Goals To Date
Alan Martin (GK) 21 apps -
Darren Barr 53 apps3 goals
Gregor Buchanan 60 apps2 goals
Mark Docherty 61 apps5 goals
Daniel Harvie 18 apps1 goal
David Smith 25 apps1 goal
Andy Stirling 24 apps1 goal
Joe Thomson 18 apps2 goals
Garry Fleming 165 apps32 goals
Josh Todd 25 apps -
Robert Thomson 25 apps5 goals
Ryan Stevenson (sub) 23 apps4 goals

Starting Lineup
Youngest Player:Daniel Harvie (18 years 168 days)
Oldest Player:Darren Barr (31 years 290 days)
Average Player Age:25 years 167 days
Domestic Players:10 (90.91 % of starting eleven)

Matchday Squad
Youngest Player:Lewis Crawford (16 years 336 days)
Oldest Player:Frazer Wright (37 years 11 days)
Average Player Age:26 years 226 days
Domestic Players:16 (94.12 % of matchday squad)

First Team Debuts

Daniel Harvie scored his first goal for the Club.

SO Christmas Eve is for shopping, lounging in front of the TV and preparing for the visit of a certain bearded fellow?

Not if this is the festive fare on offer.

And while many of us are now off work for the holiday, Dumbarton are working as hard as ever.

They never led Ayr United in this eight-goal epic. But they only trailed for a total of just over half an hour.

Whenever the Honest Men scored, there was a riposte. That said, after Scott McKenna and Gary Harkins headed the home side into a 2-0 lead, Robert Thomson's goal back right on half time was pivotal.

Six minutes after the restart, Daniel Harvie had Sons level. However, there were more mountains to climb.

Those had to be scaled with 10 men after Andy Stirling was sent off with 17 minutes left. When Alan Forrest converted the resulting penalty, Ayr once again held the lead until six minutes from full time.

Then Joe Thomson scored, Paul Cairney restored the home side's lead, and Ryan Stevenson equalised again. All within four minutes of each other.

A 3-2 scoreline became a 4-4 one - just like that.

The result meant that whatever happens at Dunfermline on Boxing Day, when the Pars host Falkirk, Sons will be out of the Championship's bottom two at the halfway stage of the season.

There is, of course, much work to be done to ensure they stay there over the remaining 50 per cent of the campaign.

But after four points and six goals, hopes are quite justly high ahead of the Hogmanay clash with leaders Dundee United - who lost on their last visit to G82.

The two halves followed the same pattern, each being started well by Dumbarton. Early chances were created but neither Garry Fleming nor Joe Thomson could convert.

Those were punished on 31 minutes with the opening goal. McKenna, by some means, rose highest to meet a corner from the left and head home.

Six minutes later Gregor Buchanan, who may have been impeded for that goal, had a chance at the other end only for his header to be cleared off the line.

And two minutes from half time, Cairney cut into the area from the left and crossed to give Harkins an easy headed finish.

Right on half time, though, it was Dumbarton using their heads to score - and not before time. A foul on Fleming by Darryl Meggatt brought a free kick, which Mark Docherty sent in for Robert Thomson to head home.

It was the final touch of the first half, and a vital one for Sons.

With the wind advantage in the second half, the game plan was well known, and within six minutes, having already survived a near Ross Docherty miss, Dumbarton levelled.

There may have been an element of luck in Harvie's goal, an attempted cross which looped into the net behind the keeper. In truth, nobody of a Sons persuasion was that bothered.

After Alan Martin saved well from Cairney, David Smith was close to giving Dumbarton the lead but saw his shot turned over.

Then 17 minutes from full time, the game took another turn. When Stirling clipped Cairney in the area, he was deemed to have denied an obvious goalscoring opportunity and was dismissed.

Forrest claimed his fourth goal against Sons this season from the penalty spot.

Ayr withstood Sons' pressure for the next 11 minutes - and then what followed bordered on impossible to register.

After 84 minutes, Joe Thomson's corner bent straight in at the far post. 3-3.

Within 60 seconds, Cairney's shot from the edge of the area found the net via the post and a deflection off Martin. 4-3.

Game over? No chance.

On 88 minutes another Joe Thomson corner this time found Stevenson's head. The consensus was that he scored the equaliser, with Robert Thomson's touch at the far post seemingly a formality.

Merry Christmas indeed.

Match report by Andy Galloway

Photography by Donald Fullarton

Programme cover / Team sheet