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Paulo Sergio <-auth DEREK McGREGOR auth-> Iain Brines
[G Wardlaw 63]
9 of 009 Scott Robinson 49LC A

Jambos flops put on spot!

From DEREK McGREGOR at Somerset Park

Published: 22 Sep 2011
VETERAN Mark Roberts sensationally put Ayr through to the quarter-finals with a winning shootout kick after 120 epic minutes.

Roberts stepped up after Rudi Skacel and Danny Grainger had efforts saved by Kevin Cuthbert and coolly clinched triumph.

Michael Moffat, Jamie McKernon and Alan Trouten also netted for amazing Ayr.

Only Eggert Jonsson netted from the spot for sorry Hearts.

Scott Robinson gave Hearts an early second-half lead. But it lasted just 15 minutes as Gareth Wardlaw equalised.

For the first 15 minutes you wouldn't have placed a fake fiver on the First Division bottom side.

It was always going to be about attitude for the Jambos against the 2002 finalists at their ramshackle home on a windy and cold night.

And in that first quarter they weren't lacking it — just a goal.

After seven minutes they should have taken the lead when Arvydas Novikovas raced clear down the left and in on Cuthbert's goal.

But just when you thought he was poised to take the obvious option and shoot he instead let Ayr off the hook — with a feeble cutback easily mopped up by a grateful Eddie Malone.

David Templeton held his head in frustration, unmarked not far behind and with a tap in if he'd received the ball. But Novikovas should have still had a go himself.

Hearts, though, were in total control. Passing the ball about quickly, moving well and solid in the challenge.

Within two minutes of the Novikovas chance they were denied by a superb save from Cuthbert, who threw himself to his left and at full stretch tipped away a John Sutton header from a Ryan McGowan cross.

Ayr were posing no difficulty at all — and Templeton had an angled close-range 14th minute drive pushed away by Cuthbert.

Seventeen minutes in and Ayr boss Brian Reid had seen nothing from his players. Then, suddenly, there was sloppiness in the Jambos defence and Janos Balogh had to sprint off his line to clear from Trouten.

It sparked Ayr into life.

Moffat snatched at a shot from 18 yards when he had more time then ex-St Mirren striker Wardlaw beat Balogh to a Moffat cross but headed over.

It was a great chance.

Malone missed an even better opportunity in the 28th minute as he flashed a point-blank header wide from a Michael McGowan corner.

Icelandic midfielder Jonsson revived Hearts on the half hour with a 25-yard curler which dropped narrowly over the bar.

By half-time, however, the game was dire and badly needed a goal. After Wardlaw had tried an outrageous lob from just inside the Hearts half, the opener duly arrived for the Jambos in the 49th minute.

Ayr failed to properly clear a Grainger corner and Robinson, at the edge of the box, controlled the ball on his chest before beating the keeper too easily with a low right foot shot into the corner.

Hearts thought they had gone 2-0 ahead in the 61st minute with ref Iain Brines even giving it. Jonsson bundled the ball home after a scramble in the six-yard box and the whistler's hand immediately pointed to the centre-circle.

But then Brines, responding to desperate appeals from Ayr, consulted with far side linesman Tom Murphy before changing his mind and booking Jonsson for handball.

From game over to game back on — and the home team made the most of it just two minutes later.

A shocking error by Jambos captain Marius Zaliukas saw him slip in possession and allow a stunned Wardlaw an unchallenged run into the box. Balogh came out but was beaten by a precise 14-yard shot.

At the other end Cuthbert was soon forced into a decent stop from Robinson as we headed towards extra-time territory.

Five minutes from the end, Jambos almost got caught out by an inswinging McGowan corner with Balogh only saving himself with a frantic dive at the near post.

In extra time Ayr were indebted to keeper Cuthbert several times in the first period.

But ref Brines left Hearts furious again in the 105th minute by rejecting strong penalty appeals for a Chris Smith challenge on McGowan. It looked a spot-kick.

The second spell of extra-time, with Roberts on, failed to produce a clear-cut chance for either team — and Hearts couldn't deal with the shootout pressure.


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