It was the day that the Highland Pokemon prevailed in deepest Ayrshire and I am sure that Pikachu was envious of the lightning strike by Shaun Rooney in the second half. It was my first “live” game of the season and the fare served up by the Caley Jags enthused and surprised me. That was as solid a team performance that I have witnessed for some time. We could have been ahead in the first minute when Miles Storey outpaced the Ayr defence but then dragged his shot slightly wide. And then game ten minutes of Ayr dominance. I felt that Ridgers kept us in the game three times, especially saves from McCowan and Moffat. Then on the half hour the away support lamented the substitution of Sean Welsh who hobbled off with yet another injury. But within seconds we were celebrating a contentious opening goal. Not many would have been surprised if the referee had stopped play to allow treatment for the poleaxed Jordan White, lying prostrate in front of the Ayr goal. But the referee played on and JAMES VINCENT appeared to deflect home a Rooney cross. Not exactly a carbon copy of his Hampden clincher but very important none the less. And I thought that we controlled the game thereafter. We were wholly solid defensively and looked dangerous on the break. The midfield certainly worked their socks off. Ayr’s final touch or shooting was well off although Ridgers did save us twice more in the second half, especially one save where he appeared to turn himself in the air when the initial shot was deflected. Roddy McGregor should have notched a second after the break but he hesitated and he who hesitates is lost. And then what must be a contender for goal of the season. In the 64th minute Donaldson punted upfield and SHAUN ROONEY remarkably kept the ball in play, swiveled, sped inside and as cool as a feckin cucumber slotted the ball home. Rooney could have claimed a second late on when Todorov failed to execute the through ball with Rooney sure to overlap again. Doran really should have made it three but slashed at the ball from the penalty spot. That completed another fine away day and the long journey home was worth it. Robbo’s after match comments summed it up and perhaps he really does think that Ayr are more of a danger than the Tannadice bunch - "We are only eight games in, but it is important that we are still there at the top of the table. We faced the best team in the Championship today and we asked the players to put on a performance, show their character and that's what they did in some style."
RIDGERS (*****) On many a day he would have been MOM but he was outshone on the day by a Ross Tokely lookalike.
ROONEY (*****) + Looking forward to seeing a replay of that goal. But apart from that he was solid at the back and always looked a danger when going forward – which he did menacingly on a regular basis.
DONALDSON (****) Looked more assured and far much more like his old composed self. Perhaps his fitness has hit the 100% mark ?
McCART (***) Tends to play in the shadow of Coll but he also looked assured and that central defence partnership will be a very important building block for the remainder of the season.
TREMARCO (***) Appeared to concentrate more on defensive duties which may well be his remit from now on.
VINCENT (***) Playmaker in the first half and very effective. Quieter in the second but defensively solid.
WELSH (**) Another bitter blow and leg injury allowed only 30 minutes of holding midfield at its best.
McGREGOR (***) Very lively, sharp and pacy. Some nice touches but too easily knocked off the ball. Did look like a wee boy on a pitch of men. But he can only improve and he does have the required potential.
DORAN (**) Never does shine when the game is mostly about defending. Has lost some pace and that shows at this level.
WHITE (**) Poor Jordan is simply not my cup of tea. His height and presence does attract central defenders but he does nothing in the air and his hold up play is lacking. His main contribution was the first goal assist !!
STOREY (***) If only he had that bit of panache and composure to add to the lightning pace – he really would be wearing a magic hat. More effective out wide though.
TRAFFORD (****) He more than successfully filled the boots of Welsh. He was winning everything in central midfield.
CARSON (***) Evidently taken on to beef up the midfield. The complete opposite of McGregor. No nonsense needed in a game of this ilk.
TODOROV (***) Still not the final product but I feel he is more mobile, is a better holder and has more pace than any other forward at the club. Probably a better foil for Storey as well
It says that the attendance was 1912 but there looked a lot more than that – although the migration of Honest Men at the start and half time may have confused me. There were not many in the home end at full time though. My thanks to all, on and off the pitch, for making my first away day of the season a very enjoyable and wet one - and that surprising includes Kenny McLean