Dunfermline 1-0 Ayr United: Rangers next for Pars

As Dunfermline set out on the long road to self-sustainability under fan ownership any luck along the way is gratefully received, and there is little doubt the Fifers have hit the Scottish Cup jackpot with a trip to Rangers.

David Hutton confronts Ryan Thomson as Stephen Finnie books the Dunfermline goalscorer for simulation. Picture: SNS
David Hutton confronts Ryan Thomson as Stephen Finnie books the Dunfermline goalscorer for simulation. Picture: SNS

Scorer: Dunfermline - Thomson (59)

Make no mistake, however, Jim Jefferies’ side earned their big pay day with a fine win over a resilient Ayr United in their fourth-round replay last night.

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The prize of a trip to Ibrox in February is of particular value to the new owners of Dunfermline as they attempt to rise from the ashes of administration.

Amid such pressure, the young home side coped admirably and deserved their victory, which came courtesy of a second-half header from Ryan Thomson. A more handsome win was only prevented by visiting goalkeeper David Hutton.

Kevin Kyle lent his considerable bulk to the Ayr United frontline as he targeted a clash with one of his former clubs.

Dunfermline boss Jefferies named an unchanged side from that which drew 1-1 in Saturday’s original tie, including former Ayr favourite Andy Geggan and Ross Millen, son of Somerset Park coach Andy.

But it was club captain Josh Falkingham who fired the first shot across the visitors, as his fizzing volley from distance was deflected over the bar by Brian Gilmour.

Thomson then turned neatly inside the box to test Hutton on the quarter-hour mark following some fine work from Alex Whittle down the left flank.

Falkingham gamely produced another shot from range mid-way through the half – this time all of 30 yards – which again whistled over the target.

Ayr were being penned in miserably and had Hutton to thank moments later when he spread himself to deny Thomson from point-blank range after a spot of head-tennis with Ryan Wallace had sent him clear.

Kyle’s task was proving a thankless one for the Honest Men and, in his only half-chance of an isolated first period, he saw a low shot blocked by Callum Morris after latching onto a Michael Donald cross.

The veteran striker did, however, succeed in getting under the skin of young Millen after an admittedly naughty challenge – Kyle comfortably took the ball, but with studs visible – and subsequent running battle between the pair. With the 19-year-old in danger of losing his head, the half-time break was timely.

The second half finally brought the breakthrough for the hosts as their incessant pressure finally saw Ayr’s stubborn resistance collapse on the hour mark.

Thomson, who was mercilessly jeered by the travelling support following a first-half booking for diving, was the man who headed home from six yards, but Alex Whittle must be commended for a wonderful assist, surging down the left flank before delivering a sumptuous cross for his striker.

Having been relatively untroubled throughout, Dunfermline keeper Ryan Scully claimed his own moment of glory as he produced a fine save to deny Moffat in the closing stages.

Dunfermline: Scully; Millen, Young, Morris, Whittle; Byrne, Falkingham, Geggan; Wallace (Husband 90), Thomson, Smith (Dargo 73). Subs not used: Goodfellow (GK), Moore, Martin, Ferguson, Williamson.

Ayr United: Hutton; Hunter, McLaughlin, Lithgow, Pope; Donald, Gilmour, Marenghi (Malcolm 68), Crawford (Forrest 60); Moffat, Kyle. Subs not used: Muir (GK), McGowan, McCracken, Wardrope, Longridge.

Referee: S Finnie

Attendance: 1,932