By Sarah Peddie
Ayr United are set to play another junior team in the Scottish Cup after their previous tie against Beith Juniors. Auchinleck Talbot will host the Championship side this weekend at an historic sellout game at Beechwood Park for the fourth round of the competition.
Auchinleck Talbot head into the game on Saturday on a high with an impressive 3-1 win over local rivals Cumnock Juniors last weekend. With goals from Kier Samson, Graham Wilson and Mark Shankland the team progressed to the next round of the Ardagh West of Scotland Cup.
On the other hand, Ayr United go into the upcoming game on the back of a 1-0 defeat to Inverness Caledonian Thistle away from home and were sent back down the A9 with no points. The team was hit with a load of injuries as six first team players were out of league action including striker Lawrence Shankland.
Ayr haven’t won a match in five games. The last victory for the team was against Dundee United at Tannadice Park on November 30, 2018, with goal machine Lawrence Shankland scoring four goals in a 5-0 win over the Tayside club and Michael Moffat adding to the tally.
In the third round of the Scottish Cup, Ayr United played another Ayrshire junior team. They beat Beith Juniors 3-0 at Bellsdale Park with Shankland on the score sheet again along with Ross Docherty and Michael Moffat. Auchinleck Talbot beat Cove Rangers 2-1 at home to secure a place in the fourth round of the competition.
Stewart McConnell from the Ayr Advertiser gave his thoughts ahead of this historic tie: “It’s quite ironic how Ayr have played Beith, Auchinleck’s junior rivals, in the previous round where they won 3-0.
“I think they are both very good sides. Auchinleck are the Scottish Junior Cup holders and they are probably the best junior team in Scotland. They’ll be up for it with a huge crowd roaring them on and they’ll certainly cause Ayr problems.
“There are a few players in their side that used to play for Ayr including Mark Shankland and Gordon Pope. They’ll have a go as they know they’ve got nothing to lose.”
When Mark Shankland made his debut for Ayr, he became the youngest ever player to play for the team at just 15 years and 300 days old. He then moved to Auchinleck Talbot in 2014 and has been at the club since. Mark Shankland has scored three goals in the Scottish Cup this season.
“Ayr should have what it takes to come through the game and they’re hopeful that Lawrence Shankland will return and if he does, it could be a torrid afternoon for Auchinleck.”
The game will be live on the BBC from Beechwood Park and Stewart thinks that it is a good platform to showcase the talent in Ayrshire. Stewart said: “I think it’s a great advert for the area, a junior team that aspires to play at a higher level against a Championship side. It should be a cracker of a game whatever happens. I do think Ayr will see it through but in the cup, sometimes shocks can be sprung. I think Auchinleck’s best case scenario would be to somehow grind out a replay.”
The game is a complete sellout with 3,100 fans making their way into the heart of Auchinleck. The junior club released a statement that all tickets had been sold out on January 4, two weeks before the tie will be played.
Find statement here: https://www.auchinlecktalbot.com/sold-out/
Despite the all the tickets being sold out, fans can still watch the game on TV. It will be televised live on BBC One at 12pm with kick-off at 12.15pm.