Ayr United 0 - 1 Dunfermline: Andy Geggan the hero

Geggan also hit the post for the visitors. Picture: SNS

Geggan also hit the post for the visitors. Picture: SNS

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A thing of aesthetic loveliness it certainly was not. Forget the ­Champions League and all its glitz and glamour, this was Scottish Cup football in its rawest form – and it was tremendous entertainment.

Dunfermline booked a place in the next round with a narrow victory over League One promotion rivals Ayr United, but whilst this was much more about blood and thunder than touch and technique, it was a win the visitors just about deserved and one they will hope gives them a psychological leg-up in their league duels.

To a younger generation brought up on PlayStation football, this ­concoction of howling winds and driving hail – to the point where the meteorological definition of a ­monsoon was being touched on – would have been a foreign concept.

But even money says they would have enjoyed it every bit as much, and this is the beauty of the Scottish Cup – two closely-matched teams committed to the cause with crunching, bone-jarring challenges and a referee missing more than he saw.

With Ayr winning the toss and electing to shoot with the wind at their backs, Michael Donald used the prevailing elements to bring a save out of visiting keeper Sean ­Murdoch in the opening minutes.

Soon after, Dunfermline playmaker Faissal El Bakhtaoui twice forced Ayr goalie Greg Fleming into good stops, the second of which ­followed a 25-yard solo run.

As cup-ties went it was bubbling under nicely, and 16 minutes in, it was positively boiling over with ­Dunfermline lucky beyond words to keep their full complement of ­players on the field.

As United’s Andy Graham received treatment inside his own area there was a clear kick by Joe Cardle on Jamie Adams, yet despite everyone else inside Somerset Park spotting this act of lunacy, stand-in referee Kevin Clancy and all his officials missed it.

If Ayr were aggrieved by that appalling piece of officiating their mood worsened midway through the half as Dunfermline took the lead courtesy of a skidding drive from Andy Geggan, which bobbled in off the post.

Dunfermline then nearly ­doubled their lead when only a flying save from Fleming kept out Michael Paton. However, it was the home team who finished stronger, ­Murdoch having to make excellent saves from Alan Trouten and Donald as the interval neared.

The second half was a lot calmer in every respect as the weather temporarily settled to a mere storm, and cup jitters set in on both sides.

It took Ayr fully half an hour to really put the Dunfermline defence under pressure, with Adams heading inches wide seconds before a dipping Brian Gilmour volley was brilliantly helped round the post by Murdoch.

Ultimately this was as close as Ian McCall table-topping home team could muster as the rain once again battered down in biblical proportions.

Indeed it was Dunfermline who threatened more in the closing stages as Ayr struggled to made headway against a solid visiting defence and the all-conquering wind.

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