By Jonathan Clark
AYR United manager Ian McCall was impressed by his team’s fitness during the 120 minutes of their 1-0 win against full-time Falkirk in the Irn-Bru Cup.
The match went to extra-time at 0-0, after Falkirk left-back Luke Leahy missed a penalty just after the 70 minute mark.
Gary Harkins (signed from Dundee in the summer) won the match for the hosts with five minutes to go, cleverly taking it round Falkirk’s stand-in goalkeeper Deniz Dogan Mehmet.
The winner takes The Honest Men into the cup quarter-final, where they will face St Mirren at the Paisley 2021 Stadium.
McCall said: “I thought the fitness levels for us, a part time team, were just fantastic and we thoroughly deserved the win.
“I felt we dominated the second half and most of extra time. That’s seven games now and we’ve only been beaten once and ironically that was our best display, when we got beat.”
McCall, 52, was impressed with summer signing Gary Harkins who scored Ayr’s 115th minute winner.
“It’s great for Gary to get the 120 minutes. He’s not done a lot of training since he came [from Dundee] because he’s still carrying a sore shoulder that he got against Morton weeks ago.”
Match winner Harkins spoke of his recent injury troubles: “I’ve been struggling with a few injuries for a few weeks so it’s been hard to try and limp through games and get past them. But I’m feeling a lot better and hopefully that’s me on the way back.”
Harkins had several chances to send Ayr into the lead during the 90 minutes but was denied several times by Deniz Dogan Mehmet in the Falkirk goal.
His goal came five minutes from the end as he rounded the keeper and sent one thousand Ayr fans at Somerset Park home, delighted with the result.
Other Irn-Bru Cup results:
Queen of the South 2-0 Linfield AET
Crusaders 1-2 Livingston
Bala Town 2-4 Alloa Athletic
Stranraer 0-1 Dundee United
Forfar Athletic 1-3 The New Saints
Hibernian 1-2 St Mirren
Dunfermline Athletic 2-1 Queen’s Park