Charlie Christie and 'The Doc' navigate a potentially tricky cup tie and take Caley Thistle to the next round of the cup. Goals from Dennis Wyness and Craig Dargo are enough to see off Ayr and keep the stand-in duo's winning record intact.
A midweek match at Somerset Park does not bring back the fondest memories for most ICT fans. The only previous cup match between the sides at this venue ended in a 5-1 CIS Cup loss for Caley Thistle and the early dismissal of Ross Tokely.
|Monday 16th January 2006||Somerset Park, Ayr|
|AYR UNITED FC||0|
Team: McGeown, McKinstry, McLaughlin, Baillie, Ramsay (Robertson 46), Hyslop, Logan, Casey,
Conway, Vareille (Phillips 37), Wardlaw (Cashmore 71)
Subs – Weaver & Strain
|INVERNESS CALEDONIAN THISTLE FC||2 (Dargo pen38, Wyness 76)|
Team: Brown, Tokely, Dods, Munro, Hastings, Wilson (Proctor 82), Black, Duncan, McBain (Golabek 88), Dargo (McAllister 85), Wyness
Subs – Hart & Fraser
|Man of the Match||Raymond Logan (Ayr United)|
Our league record at this ground hasn't been that great either : 2 wins, 4 draws and 4 defeats in the 10 games between the sides when they met regularly on Division 1 duty. Since then Caley Thistle have headed upwards to the SPL and Ayr have dropped to Division 2.
After Ayr’s fine performance in the first match this was not a night to relish. Sky TV were broadcasting live from Somerset Park for the first time, clearly hoping for a cup shock. The additional revenue was much appreciated by both sides. With six SPL sides already out of the cup all eyes were on Ayr to see if they could dispatch number seven.
Caley Thistle had technical problems with the team bus en route to Ayr, but it did not stop them seeing off their second division opponents and giving the interim management team of Christie and Docherty their second win in three days.
Apart from a few nervous moments the visitors dominated, but they could easily have gone behind in 22 minutes. A Mark Casey shot from 25 yards took a wicked deflection and came back off the post with Mark Brown stranded. Jerome Vareille was ready to shoot from close range when Grant Munro stepped in with a magnificent tackle to end the danger – offside was called so it would not have counted.
Mark McGeown dived to hold a low Barry Wilson shot in 26 minutes then in 33 minutes Dennis Wyness sent an angled shot wide of the post after good work by Ian Black. Two minutes later the match came to life after a Dougie Ramsay mishit was picked up by Wyness 25 yards out. He headed straight for goal but was pulled down as he rounded McGeown. The next two actions were inevitable – a red card for the Ayr keeper and a penalty award. Ayr sacrificed Jerome Vareille for substitute ‘keeper Eric Phillips and his first action was to pick the ball out of the net after Craig Dargo hammered home the spot kick.
It was an uphill struggle for Ayr after that not helped by heavy rain. Two minutes from the break Phillips spilled a Black shot and Dargo raced in to collect – the angle from the right was acute and he hit over. Ross Tokely collided with Ramsay just on the whistle and Ramsay did not reappear for the second half. The Ayr camp cried foul but the referee judged the clash to be accidental.
The second period was virtually all Caley Thistle but there was a heart-stopping moment in 52 minutes when Brown came out to punch away a free kick and left his goal unattended. The ball came back quickly to Raymond Logan and he had a free shot on goal. Tokely took charge of the goal line and did well to clear the danger – Logan was clearly offside but the referee chose to ignore it.
A neat move in 68 minutes set up Wilson. Wyness sent a ball from the left, Black dummied but Wilson’s effort flew just over. Any danger of an Ayr comeback was ended in 76 minutes when Roy McBain stopped the ball from drifting out of play down the left, found Richard Hastings and the full back’s cross was headed home by Wyness from seven yards.
A pitch invasion by a handful of Ayr fans held up play as time slipped away but this did not help their side’s cause. With a minute to go Ian Cashmore did have a shot blocked after a rare Ayr attack then the same player went down in the box – play was waved on. It ended 2-0 and Caley Thistle earned a fourth round home tie against Partick Thistle. With only six SPL sides in the last sixteen there are interesting times ahead.