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Page last updated at 21:22 GMT, Thursday, 22 January 2009

Kilmarnock 3-1 Ayr United

By Clive Lindsay

Ayr keeper Stephen Grindlay can't keep Simon Ford's header out
Ayr keeper Stephen Grindlay can't keep Simon Ford's equalising header out

Kilmarnock came from behind to defeat derby rivals Ayr United despite being reduced to 10 men in their Scottish Cup fourth-round replay at Rugby Park.

Ayr took a controversial 10th-minute lead when Bryan Prunty used a hand to direct the ball past keeper Alan Combe.

But Stephen Grindlay could not prevent a Simon Ford header crossing the line at the start of a second-half thriller.

David Fernandez was sent off, but Mehdi Taouil fired Killie ahead then sent in a corner for Ford to head in the third.

Killie eased home against their tiring opponents to deservedly book a visit to Scottish Premier League rivals Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

It had looked like it was going to be a difficult night for Ayr as Killie applied the early pressure.

Neil McGowan did superbly to clear off the goal-line after Allan Russell's cross took a deflection, the ball looped over the goalkeeper and Bryson looked poised to force it into the net.

But the Second Division side worked their way into the game and took the lead with their very own "hand of God" moment.

Ford's poor clearance was picked up on the halfway line by Dean Keenan, who had been chosen ahead of Paul Weaver.

And, as the Kilmarnock defender chased the through ball and Combe advanced, Prunty nipped between them to force the ball into the unguarded net.

Killie's Simon Ford celebrates
Ford scored twice as Killie defeated their derby rivals

There were no protests from the Killie players, but television replays showed that it was the former Airdrie striker's forearm, and not his head, that had beaten his rivals to the vital touch.

Willie Gibson, justifying his inclusion in the side ahead of Danny Invincibile, twisted and turned the Ayr defence before firing into the side netting from the edge of the penalty box as Killie pressed for an equaliser.

The home defence continued to look nervous and they might have been relieved to see the back of goalscorer Prunty after 22 minutes had the injured striker not been replaced with Alex Williams, whose late equaliser at Somerset Park had secured the replay.

However, it was Killie's turn to equalise in the 39th-minute when a Taouil-inspired move ended with McGowan again clearing off the line, this time after Russell's attempt to flick the ball home from a difficult angle.

Prunty admitted, before heading for hospital at half-time, that he had handled the ball, while Killie manager Jim Jefferies described it as disgraceful after viewing replays.

If any more spice was needed, it was now guaranteed and there was a storming start to the second half that led to a 50th-minute equaliser.

Ford rose unchallenged to meet a Gibson cross six yards from goal and, although Grindlay grasped the ball at the second attempt, referee Steve Conroy was not to be deceived this time and noticed that the goalkeeper had swept the ball from behind the line.

Kilmarnock were reduced to 10 men after 68 minutes when Fernandez aimed a fly slap at Martin Campbell.

And the home side almost fell behind when Frazer Wright was short with a back-pass, but David Gormley rushed his shot, which was easily saved by Combe.

Killie made Ayr pay for that miss when Bryson powered past three Ayr players, his stinging drive was pushed clear by Grindlay and Taouil fired home the rebound from 15 yards after 76 minutes.

The victory was secured four minutes later when Ford glanced a header past Grindlay from a Taouil corner.

Kilmarnock manager Jim Jefferies:

"I've stayed down here for a few years and I've got to know what this game means to the supporters and it was one that the players were desperate to win for them.

"After losing a very soft goal, Simon Ford showed great character to come back and get the first one and the third one.

"Even when we went to ten men, we kept going at them. Everybody played their part tonight in getting through.

"It's a great result for us. I thought we outclassed them in all departments tonight."

Ayr United manager Brian Reid:

"I thought the players' effort was fantastic, backed by a tremendous support.

"In terms of keeping possession we were not as good as we can be. Whether the big stage caught a few of them out, I don't know.

"Overall we defended not too bad until the set pieces. The goals we lost were very poor, a few maybe not picking their men up and it caught us out.

"It was a great lift going in here at half-time 1-0 up. I thought if we could hold out for 15-20 minutes in the second half we might gain confidence. I warned them about losing a quick goal.

"It would be great if you could play these games every two or three weeks. These are games that all players should strive to play in.

"We need to turn our focus to the league, which is our main bread and butter.

"I'd like to thank every one of the supporters for being here tonight. It gave the players a great lift."

Kilmarnock: Combe, Fowler, Hay, Ford, Wright, Bryson (Flannigan 90), Gibson, Pascali, Taouil (Skelton 83), Russell (Invincibile 87), Fernandez.
Subs Not Used: Rascle, Simmonds.

Sent Off: Fernandez (69). Booked: Gibson.

Goals: Ford 50, Taouil 76, Ford 80.

Ayr: Grindlay, Dempsie, McGowan, Walker, Martin Campbell, Stevenson, Keenan, Aitken, Prunty (Williams 22), Gormley (Borris 83), Easton (Agnew 81).
Subs Not Used: Stewart, Henderson.

Booked: Keenan, Williams, Stevenson.

Goals: Prunty 10.

Att: 11,563

Ref: S Conroy

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Ayr United's William Easton and David Gormley 8.67 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Scottish Cup as it happened
22 Jan 09 |  Scottish Cups
Ayr United 2-2 Kilmarnock
10 Jan 09 |  Scottish Cups

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