There was defeat but no disgrace for Shire as they went out of the Scottish Communities League Cup against Ayr United at a sun-kissed Ochilview.
With temperatures well above 20c it was hardly suprising that the game lacked a high-tempo, all-action pace but the young Shire side put in an energy-sapping display against a very good First Division team, matching them all the way apart from a 10 minute spell either side of the half-time interval where all the damage was done.
It was the home team who created the better-looking openings in the first half. Early on an Alex Lurinsky drive stung the figertips of Ayr United keeper Kevin Cuthbert and Ally Love carried on from his excellent display against Dumbarton by sending an angled drive just wide of the keeper’s right-hand post.
Midway through the half Love was at the centre of the action this time with a shot which had the visiting goalie scrambling to make a great save.
But the visitors were passing the ball about well and hogged possession for long enough to make some good chances. That told after 39 minutes when Ayr United took the lead with a simply taken goal. Michael Moffat sent a simple through ball for Alan Trouten to latch onto and hit past the stranded Gavin Sorley in the Shire goal.
A minute before the interval the visitors went 2-0 ahead. This time Trouten started the move with a great angled shot which Sorley did well to save. But the Shire keeper was not able to gather the shot and Moffat was on hand to collect the rebound and score with a tap-in.
Things got worse for the home team after 51 minutes when a ball into the box from Michael McGowan went straight across the face of goal. Before a Shire player could hoof it to safety the ball had been delivered back into the six yard box and Mark Roberts could not miss from point-blank range.
If the Shire faithful worried that their team might crumble then they need not have worried. In fact, Steven Jackson missed a great chance to reduce the leeway just four minutes later but, despite being given a clear sight of goal, he hit his shot into the side netting.
Two minutes after that Love ended a great run into the Ayr United box with a shot which Cuthbert had to look smart to save. Kevin Turner was getting through a great amount of work up front and he made a great run to set up Andy Stirling but his shot from the edge of the box was comfortably saved by the visiting keeper.
Sorley at the other end was having to look smart on occasion, though. The Shire keeper did well to stop Roberts adding to the tally on 68 minutes by racing out to the edge of the six yard box to block the shot with his legs.
He was helpless, though on 82 minutes when Eddie Malone’s 20 yard free-kick flew over the defensive wall and struck the crossbar. Luckily for Shire, though, the defence was able to clear its lines before the Ayr United forwards could inflict any more damage.
SHIRE : Sorley, Chisholm, Dingwall, Cane, Frances, Hunter, Jackson(Scott 67), Stirling, Turner(Sheerin 81), Lurinsky(Team 67), Love.
AYR UNITED : Cuthbert, J. Robertson, Malone, Smith, Campbell, Geggan, Trouten, Burke(R. Robertson 78), Moffat(Wardlaw 65), Roberts(Patterson 77), McGowan.
REFEREE : E. Anderson.