Aberdeen's Centre Forward DiscoveryAberdeen's victory by four goals to one over Ayr United at Pittodrie Park fairly represented the play, for Aberdeen kept the upper hand almost throughout, so that Blackwell, the custodian, had an easy time. Connon had not recovered from hard knocks received in the mid-week Scottish Cup match against Airdrieonians, and his place at centre forward was filled by Grant so well as to give rise to the belief among many of the delighted twelve thousand spectators that at last Aberdeen's difficult pivot question had been solved. He kept position well, and while distributing freely to the wings, was prompt to seize any likely first time opportunity, as when he headed through a pass from Middleton. The right wing combination of Middleton and Thomson worked more satisfactorily than had been the case this season, and the latter was responsible for a couple of goals, and the other, in the last minute of the match, was obtained by Robertson at left half, the ball on this occasion glancing off Hogg, Ayr's right half, into the net, making three goals in twenty minutes. Mackenzie, inside left, obtained Ayr's only goal.
Source: The Scotsman, 5th February 1923
Story of the Goals.Aberdeen were two goals up in the first six minutes. Only four minutes had gone when Smith, by a clever movement, deceived his namesake and Hogg, and he centred so accurately that Thomson, standing close in, had only to let the ball strike his head and glance into the net well out Nesbit's reach. Immediately following this, MacLachlan gave Middleton a lovely ground pass, and the outside right beat Gibson to swing over an accurate centre for Grant to head through from about 12 yards range. Aberdeen were rampant, and after 18 minutes they secured a third goal. Middleton, close to the flag, cleverly eluded McCloy, and with his left foot squared rather far back. Robertson met the ball, however, and shot with great force, for the ball to bounce off Hogg into the net and wide of Nesbit, who might otherwise have saved. With 25 minutes gone, the United got through to score on practically the only chance they got. Following a flag kick, Gibson returned high ball, which Blackwell, while harassed, fisted into the air, and as it descended McKenzie headed into the net. The last goal of the match came in the concluding minute of the game, after the Ayr goal had run many narrow escapes. Just previously the United lost the assistance of McLeod, who sustained leg injury and had to be assisted off. Grant, from the right, shot for goal, and the ball appeared to be going through when a defender deflected it behind. Smith placed the flag kick to perfection, and Rankine headed for the right-hand side of the goal. It seemed that Nesbit would save, but Thomson, realising this, by a great effort, and in stooping position, reached the ball to divert it into the net at the other end of the goal.
One-sided Game.It was nearly always Aberdeen's game. In the first minute Grant shot with great force from outside the penalty area, and Smith just missed the goal after Nisbet had deflected Grant's effort. Following this, McCloy headed away a cross by Middleton. Play continued near the United goal, and after Hutton had worked forward and slipped the ball to Grant, the centre-forward had a great race with the backs, but McCloy cleared. Rankine followed with an individual run on the left, but delayed his shot and sent against the side net. The Ayr left wing came into prominence with some close play, but Robertson relieved, and later Kilpatrick muddled a centre to give Blackwell his first bye-kick. Aberdeen again took up the attack, and after Nisbet had saved a hard drive by Robertson, MacLachlan drove against a defender. For a time the Aberdeen attack was rampant, the right wing in particular showing delightful touches. Grant and Rankine twice just failed to get their heads on accurate centres by the extreme winger, and Nisbet did well to hold a free kick by Milne, while a ground shot by Thomson went narrowly past. After clever play, Grant just missed with a splendid shot, which Nisbet could not have saved, and following this the centre-forward had another terrific shot, which skidded round the post off Nisbet's hands. At the other end, Blackwell had to field a ground shot by Kilpatrick. Aberdeen again attacked, and Robertson had a tremendous drive, which flashed wide with Nisbet helpless to save. A long-range try by Rankine was held close to the crossbar by Nisbet, and following this a ground cross by Thomson was missed by defenders and attackers alike. Grant had yet another shot on the run, but Nisbet saved. Towards the interval the United became aggressive, but could not press home the attack, and Aberdeen were not all flattered by the interval score of Aberdeen 3, Ayr United 1.
Aberdeen Shoot Well.At the start of the second half a strong sun, which appeared during the interval, handicapped the Aberdeen defence, and the United were aggressive in the earlier stages. The defences resorted to offside tactics, and with both sets of forwards repeatedly falling into the trap, play was for a period confined to midfield. McKenzie, for the United, shot high from long range, and later Blackwell had to save a long drive by Smith, the United's right back. In a raid, Middleton was brought down just outside the penalty area, and MacLachlan placed the ball well for Rankine to reach it with his head, but Nesbit saved on the ground. The Aberdeen attack again developed liveliness, and off a centre by Middleton Rankine again headed in for Nesbit to effect a wonderful one-handed save. Grant just missed with a ground shot taken in a dash between the backs, and following this the Aberdeen leader was cleverly foiled by McCloy. Play continued in front of the visitors' goal. Nisbet had to fist away from Smith, and Thomson slipped in the penalty area when about to shoot, a claim for a penalty not being sustained. Off a free kick taken by Smith Nisbet had to again save off Rankine's head, and after Smith had centred the keeper had to clear a headed ball by Grant. James McLean made an isolated effort to get through for the United, and caused Milne to concede s flag-kick, but the winger sent behind. Grant netted at the other end, but an offside infringement nullified the point. Following a run by Middleton, McCloy averted further disaster at the expense a corner. Grant just missed with fast grounder, and later Nisbet did well to hold a terrific shot, by the Aberdeen centre-forward. To the end the visitors were outplayed and although they were unfortunate to lose the services of McLeod, their centre-half, shortly before the finish, they were well beaten. In a splendid all-round home team, all played well. The goalkeeper and backs had a comparatively easy passage. All three half-backs excelled, and in the attack Grant, Middleton, and Rankine played pretty and effective football, but Thomson and Smith also gave a grand account of themselves. Nesbit, Smith and McCloy were outstanding in the Ayr defence, but the half-backs never got settled down, and in an attack that lacked support, and in any case was mastered by the home half-backs, James McLean and McKenzie were best.
Source: Aberdeen Daily Journal 5th February 1923