Ayr United 4 Motherwell 0
Last season Motherwell finished third in the Scottish Premier League behind Celtic and Rangers and with Rangers banned from European competition the Steelmen will play in the qualifying rounds of the European Champions League later this month.
Ayr United were relegated from the First to the Second Division of the Scottish League last year.
I spoke to a friend this morning who said that Motherwell would beat Ayr in the friendly match at Somerset Park this afternoon by three goals to nil.
So look at that scoreline again.
OK, it was a pre-season friendly, but both clubs put out something close to their best starting elevens, though Ayr had a young triallist Ally Semple in goals and another in midfield, Darren Brownlie. Semple started with St Mirren but was playing with Glenafton Athletic in the Scottish juniors a year or so ago. He looked the part with a series of confident saves.
David Sinclair orchestrated things from the Ayr midfield and his team-mates resisted a spell of early Motherwell pressure.
After 19 minutes the complexion of the game changed when Ayr broke down the right and Ross Robertson, converted from central defender to striker by new manager Mark Roberts, sent a looping header over Darren Randolph in the Motherwell goal.
Ayr fans have seen this all before. An early lead, backs to the wall defence and often a late defeat.
This time however it was very different.
Christopher Humphrey tried to play a square ball across the Motherwell penalty area but the alert Michael Moffat pounced on the loose effort and ran through to put Ayr two ahead in 27 minutes.
At the interval Ayr made only one change, with another trialist Ally Brown replacing Semple in goals.
Four minutes after the break any thought of a Motherwell comeback in the second half was squashed when Ayr won a corner on the right.
Anthony Marengi fired it into the danger area and Martyn Campbell made a run from deep which was not picked up and finished through a static Motherwell defence.
Motherwell then replaced more than half the team in a mass substitution but Ayr continued to play good one-touch football.
‘Just like Barcelona’ I said optimistically at one point but then man-of-the-match David Sinclair fired a shot over the keeper from the edge of the penalty area to round out the victory for the Honest Men.
I spent the afternoon beside David Harkness, the former Ayr United groundsman, who kept Somerset Park in immaculate condition for the best part of four decades.
David and I were at primary school together and it was a delight to get his perspective on the club and its people over the years as well as talking about old times in the village where we grew up.
He retired three years ago but is still helping keep the place in good order.
At half-time he took me down to the staff canteen where he was greeted by Lyn, the manageress, with a huge hug.
When he introduced me and I said ‘I am with him’, I got the same treatment.
A family club with a lot of good people who have survived the ups and downs over the years, for Ayr has been a yo-yo club for most of its history—one year up, and then the next one down.
Let’s hope this victory is not a false dawn.
My Dad was always wont to pour water on any early success. ‘Too soon good’ he would say, but this supporter is basking in the result for the moment at least.