This was as horrible as the scoreline suggests for Dundee. Deservedly and, ultimately, clinically dispatched from the Betfred Cup by Championship opposition they all but imploded by finishing the game with nine men following the second half dismissals of Sofien Moussa and Genseric Kusunga.
To compound their misery their fate was sealed by a double from Lawrence Shankland for whom they recently tabled an unsuccessful transfer bid.
On the back of a winless start to their Premiership campaign and a misfiring frontline an undignified cup exit was the last thing the Dens Park club needed but this should not detract from a hugely impressive performance by Ian McCall’s side. Having topped their group earlier in competition and unbeaten to date this season they oozed belief throughout this game and it proved to be well-founded as they took command after a scoreless opening 45 minutes.
“I thought we had the best chances in the first half and the feeling when you come to places like this is ‘are we going to regret that?’ But they went out and did exactly the same in the second half and we got the goals,” enthused the happy McCall.
In keeping with both sides’ attacking philosophies it was an open but ultimately untidy and error-strewn encounter. The visitors’ did however carry the greater threat throughout and combined with uncertainty in the Dundee rearguard it led to countless anxious moments for the home support. McCall’s men ought have taken the lead before the break when Shankland set up Andy Murdoch but he fired his effort too close to Jack Hamilton who topped it over the bar. The hosts meanwhile had only a Jean Alassane Mendy shot which was pushed round the post by Ross Doohan to draw inspiration from.
Having laboured to no avail for 45 minutes the deadlock was then broken by Ayr in simple fashion minutes after the restart. A route one ball sliced open the hosts’ backline and Shankland simply smashed it past Hamilton. Having already introduced new on-loan Finnish signing Benjamin Kallman at the break, Dundee manager Neil McCann sought to further improve his side’s hitherto anaemic attack by introducing Sofian Moussa but there was little impact aside from the Tunisian picking up an immediate yellow card for a foul on Andy Geggan.
The proceedings continued to amble along in a disjointed manner which played entirely into the Championship side’s hands. Misplaced passes and misunderstandings meant that Dundee only sporadically made headway towards the Ayr goal and Moussa’s afternoon proved to be a short one as he picked a second yellow for jumping into the back of Mark Kerr.
Depleted in numbers and devoid of ideas the home side crumpled with Crawford and Shankland both going close to doubling the advantage before the latter applied an emphatic finish to a Daniel Harvie cross to seal the tie. However the Honest Men still weren’t finished with Michael Moffat knocking in a third shortly afterwards. Amazingly there was still time for further calamity to befall Dundee as a reckless challenge by Genserix Kusunga saw him shown a straight red in time added on.
“It’s hard to find words – it was a terrible performance” lamented a taciturn McCann. “It’s not often I’ve seen so many players off form in the one game. Three-nil flattered us”