AYR WE GO
Our first opponents at Shielfield in a competitive match for season 2019/20 are Championship side Ayr United.
Ayr finished a creditable fourth in the Championship having returned to is as Champions of the First Division following relegation in 2016/17. Fourth was enough to gain them a place in the play-off quarter finals lost out 4-2 on aggregate to Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Ian McCall joined as manager in 2015 and has now managed them in over 200 games. He joins line of managers with some illustrious names in it not least Ally MacLeod who had three spells at the club between 1966 and 1989. MacLeod of course would go on to manage Scotland and take them to World Cup in Argentina along with Ally’s Tartan Army high on a wave of optimism which would end disastrously, MacLeod being pilloried and blamed for the failure. MacLeod was succeeded at the end of his final spell by another future Scotland manager in the shape of George Burley and another who’s Scottish managerial career would end in a blizzard of criticism from the media and supporters.
United last featured in the top tier of Scottish Football back in season 1977/78 and since then have fluctuated between the second and third tiers. Probably their most successful period since then was under Gordon Dalziel at the turn of the century when they reached two Scottish Cup Semi-Finals and lost in the 4-0 to Rangers in the 2001/02 League Cup Final.
For the last two seasons Ayr have featured the much talked about Lawrence Shankland who scored 50 goals in 61 games for them. Shankland became a free agent at the end of the season and after much speculation about his future including being linked with Sunderland has joined Dundee United.
As well as Shankland’s departure Ayr lost seven other players and three loanees during the summer. To date they have signed Sam Roscoe from Aberdeen and the vastly experienced Kris Doolan from Partick, in a move that didn’t go down that well with Thistle fans, where he scored 121 goals in 401 appearances. United have also taken Frank Ross and Stephen Kelly on loan from Aberdeen and Rangers respectively.
Given our love of a statement at Shielfield it will no doubt be a joy to know the Ayr board felt it necessary to issue one at the end of June after what they described as significant speculation about the financial performance of the club https://ayrunitedfc.co.uk/board-statement/
The clubs have met 63 times with Ayr winning 40 times Berwick 12 times and 11 draws.
This will be the first time we have met since 6 August 2008 in the League Cup with Ayr winning 2-1 at Somerset Park, David Greenhill giving Berwick an early lead before Chris Aitken and Alex Williams scored in a five minute period before half time.
Ayr: Grindlay, Keenan, Scott Walker, Campbell, Easton, Borris, Aitken, Stevenson, Agnew, Prunty (Gormley 86), Williams.
Subs Not Used: Henderson, McGowan, Weaver, Stewart.
Goals: Aitken 40, Williams 45.
Berwick: McGurk, Guy, Ewart, Kiczynski, McMahon , Little, Greenhill, Craig Anderson (Callaghan 59), Dillon (Howat 83), Lister, Gribben (Grant 79).
Subs Not Used: McLean, Lunn.
Goals: Greenhill 12.
Ref: S Conroy