Kilmarnock (0) 4 Ayr Utd (2) 2
(Ayrshire Cup Final, Match 45, Rugby Park, May 13th 1998)
Kilmarnock fought back from being 2-0 down at half-time to win the match by two goals and bring the Ayrshire Cup back to Rugby Park - and at the same time helped fans in North Ayrshire to forget about that humiliating day at Somerset only a few months ago.
As Chelsea competed for the Cup Winners' Cup in Sweden, there were a lot of passionate fans in Rugby Park who were desperate to see Ayrshire's own famous trophy return to it's home in the Kilmarnock trophy room. (Forever as it turns out this was the last Ayrshire cup final ever to be played!). Kilmarnock, with near enough a full squad, started well but it was rivals Ayr who had the first real chance of the match. As the offside trap was evaded, Ayr's midfielder Jim Dick, who incidentally scored in the Scottish Cup against Killie earlier in the season, rushed towards goal with only Meldrum to beat, but after taking the ball past Killie's substitute 'keeper, Dick missed an open net and blasted wide. United's other scorer in that Cup match, Ian Ferguson, however, made no mistake in the 21st minute when he received a pass in the box and slotted past Meldrum to give the visitors the lead.
Killie to their credit, fought back immediately, and Gary Holt was unlucky to see his solo effort saved by French 'keeper, David Castilla. Kilmarnock though, failed to keep up the pressure and shortly after the half hour mark, Ayr increased their lead and moved one step closer to retaining the Cup. In a defensive mix-up, Gary Holt was forced to kick the ball back to Meldrum, but as Meldrum climbed to catch the ball, he failed to hold it under pressure, and Ayr's Ferguson pounced to score his second with a spectacular shot. As the homeside were booed of the pitch by angry fans, boss Williamson realised that something would need to be done, but he opted for an inspirational team-talk rather than substitutes - and it worked. Alex Burke looked much sharper on the left, while Pat Nevin and Ally Mitchell pilled on the pressure down the right and through the middle, but it was former Killie defender Andy Millen who credit has to be given to for pulling Killie back into the match. As Pat Nevin raced towards the box, he passed to Mark Roberts whose low cross into the danger area was hit into the net by Millen, who could not have chosen a worse venue to score an own goal. The rejuvenated Kilmarnock continued to surge forward and moments later it was Ally Mitchell who got the all important equaliser. Mitchell, who scored the winner two weeks ago at Ibrox, (More) controlled the ball on his chest at the edge of the box before turning and sending a powerful volley into the roof of the net. At this stage, Ayr found it hard to create many more chances, and it was only a matter of time before Kilmarnock were to go into the lead for the first time in the match. On one of Kilmarnock's many ventures into Ayr's box, another former Killie defender, Derek Anderson, elbowed Mark Roberts in the face - an incident which the referee failed to notice, but after a word with his assistant, a penalty was awarded. Mark Roberts duly stepped up and calmly placed the ball into the corner of the net, sending the 'keeper the wrong way.
As the game drew to a close, Dylan Kerr scored his first & only goal for the club and the man who is usually at the centre of everyone's goal celebrations, decided to celebrate with the fans in his own unique fashion. As Nevin gathered the ball in midfield, Dyllan Kerr raced past him before receiving the ball and striking powerfully into the net before heading off to celebrate. Using the advertising hoardings as a spring board, Kerr leaped into the Moffat stand, only to be mobbed as the fans' in the surrounding rows surged around him. As the final whistle sounded, the players and fans alike found it hard to hide their elation. As club captain Ray Montgomerie was presented with the trophy, Gary Holt, with his faded blue hair, received the man-of-the-match award. Having guided the club to their highest ever Premier Division finish, Bobby Williamson can now add the Ayrshire Cup triumph to his ever increasing list of achievements.
KILMARNOCK: Meldrum, Hamilton, Kerr, Lauchlan, Montgomerie, Henry, Nevin, Holt, Mitchell, Roberts, Burke.(Sub's not used - Bagan, O'Neill & McCutcheon).