Match ends, Kilmarnock 1, Ayr United 0.
Kilmarnock won a tame Ayrshire derby to progress to the third round of the Scottish League Cup.
The home side spurned several chances during the course of the game, but Rory McKenzie was accurate enough to strike the game's only goal.
It came midway through the second half, and Ayr United had a couple of half-chances towards the end.
But Kilmarnock it is who claim victory over the League One side to continue their fine start to the season.
The expectation was of a fierce, unrelenting contest. Tension grew as the game progressed, certainly, but that was a measure of the tightness of the contest. The edge and the vindictiveness was contained within the stands.
Supporters revel in these occasions, and the rituals were observed. Songs and insults were traded, often paying little heed to events in the game itself.
Kilmarnock have started the Premiership season promisingly, while Ayr top League One with a 100% record. The visitors did not carry any inhibitions into the tie, and in the opening spell they sought to impose themselves.
The eventual result was a Nicky Devlin header that cleared the crossbar, but the intent was clear.
Kilmarnock are not as psychologically frail as last season, though, and they soon established their own sense of purpose.
Tope Obadeyi was fiercely quick, and he robbed Devlin of the ball near the Ayr penalty area, but he took too long to shoot and the full-back recovered to tackle.
Opportunities tended to be cobbled together, since the two defences were in no mood to be easily breached. Manuel Pascali headed over from a set-piece, and Josh Magennis sliced a shot into the midriff of his teammate Muirhead, after an agile spin left the Ayr defender Peter Murphy trailing.
The better chances belonged to the home side, but Ayr never seemed overwhelmed. The League One side just lacked the refinement or imagination to cut through the Kilmarnock defence. By comparison alone, Kilmarnock were more impressive.
When Obadeyi had to leave the field injured before the interval, Allan Johnston was able to bring on Alexei Eremenko. His touch, vision, control and range of passing immediately marked him out as the game's most accomplished figure. He could not always contain his frustration when attacks petered out through poor final touches or a lack of communication.
Chris Johnston steered an effort across the face of goal but wide, then Josh Magennis's header from Eremenko's cross was not accurate enough and spun wastefully wide. Just as the home support was becoming irked, though, and turning their attention to the home players rather than the opposition fans, Rory McKenzie delivered a moment of aplomb.
The winger expertly controlled a cross with his right foot, then in one fluid movement swept a low left-foot shot past David Hutton, the Ayr goalkeeper. The home side were in control of the scoreline, and ought to have secured the outcome more comfortably, but Magennis saw a header saved and as hot blocked, while Hutton also did well to block an Eremenko effort.
The Ayr goalkeeper also had to throw himself to his right to push away a Sammy Clingan free-kick with one hand. The visitors clung onto their belief, though, and might have earned a scrappy equaliser if Dale Shirkie hadn't seen one effort blocked by Magennis and another deflected over from close range by Jamie Hamill.
The victory was deserved for the home side, but was never assured until the end. The encounter lacked enough of an edge to make it memorable, but it is important progress for Kilmarnock, who continue to grow in confidence.
- 23ChantlerBooked at 57mins
- 4HamillBooked at 88mins
- 16ObadeyiSubstituted forEremenkoat 37'minutes
- 28MagennisSubstituted forMillerat 90+2'minutes
- 33MuirheadSubstituted forJohnstonat 55'minutes
- 4CampbellBooked at 44mins
- 2DevlinBooked at 8mins
- 6GilmourSubstituted forMcGillat 70'minutes
- 8McLaughlinBooked at 78mins
- 7ForrestSubstituted forShirkieat 76'minutes
- Craig Thomson
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Kilmarnock 1, Ayr United 0.
Corner, Ayr United. Conceded by Jamie Hamill.
Substitution, Kilmarnock. Lee Miller replaces Josh Magennis.
Attempt missed. Peter McGill (Ayr United) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.
Attempt blocked. Dale Shirkie (Ayr United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Jamie Hamill (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card.
Foul by Jamie Hamill (Kilmarnock).
Dale Shirkie (Ayr United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Josh Magennis (Kilmarnock) header from the right side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the right.
Attempt saved. Sammy Clingan (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner.
Chris Johnston (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Kevin McKinlay (Ayr United).
Attempt blocked. Jamie Hamill (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Jon Paul McGovern.
Sammy Clingan (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Scott McLaughlin (Ayr United).
Attempt saved. Alexei Eremenko (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.
Foul by Chris Johnston (Kilmarnock).
Kevin McKinlay (Ayr United) wins a free kick on the right wing.