Sep 9 2011 by Mike WIlson, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
SEETHING Brian Reid blasted Ayr's Ramsdens Cup calamity as the worst in his four years at the club.
And he claimed none of the fringe players he drafted in took the chance to impress.
Former Killie kid David Cox sent Third Division leaders Annan into the semis and it was a victory they couldn't be grudged.
The irate Ayr gaffer hit out: "I have never seen us play as badly from the first minute to the last.
"I took a wee gamble and left out quite a few but none of the ones who came in gave me anything at all so that's a big disappointment.
"There were opportunities for them to stake a claim but we were way, way off it. We were lethargic, took a poor touch and couldn't pass the ball.
"I have never seen us as bad in my four years here. I rested a few but that wasn't underestimating the game or showing disrespect.
"I played a similar team against Raith in the last round and we won convincingly.
"A lot of players were sitting in the stand but they will definitely come back. Apart from two or three, there is nobody who can chap my door and say they deserve to start next week.
"There was a decent support so I have to apologise because we never turned up. Although we had three or four great chances and hit the post that would have been unjust on Annan."
Ayr wore a totally different look from the team that beat Raith eight days earlier.
On loan Derby teenager Ryan Connolly came in for his debut while there were starts for Gareth Armstrong, Ross Robertson, Jonathan Tiffoney, Alan Trouten, Roddy Paterson and Alex Burke.
The new look could have been ahead in 12 minutes but Trouten's long range lob from Ross Robertson's through ball was too high.
Annan weren't there to make up numbers and Kevin Cuthbert had to use his legs to block from man of the match Cox.
A great inter passing move in 22 minutes ended with Connolly sending in a shot which Craig Summersgill did well to tip over.
Paterson had the ball in the net after half an hour but it was the fourth time the youngster had been flagged offside.
Annan looked good on the ball whenever they pushed forward and Ian Harty just failed to pick out Cox with a neat pass in the box.
Then the towering Peter Watson rose high but his header from a corner was just wide of the target.
Annan had the first chance of the second-half when Chris Jardine seized on Sean O'Connor's lay-off but saw his well hit shot saved by the diving Cuthbert.
Michael Moffat replaced the ineffective Burke after 54 minutes as Ayr tried to shake themselves into life.
It was game on with a vengeance four minutes later as United fell behind.
The man mountain figure of O'Connor drove the ball across goal from the left touchline and Cox slid in to knock it over the line.
Michael McGowan and Mark Roberts were summoned from the bench in place of Tiffoney and Paterson as Ayr looked for a response.
They lived dangerously when Cox wheeled in the box and fired a shot off the inside of Cuthbert's right hand post.
United stepped on the gas and Connolly met a cross at the back post but saw an angled drive turned past. Then the Robertsons combined with John's header across goal being nodded over by Ross.
The heat intensified as Moffat hit the post from an Eddie Malone cutback. Even keeper Cuthbert joined theattack for the last few seconds but Ayr didn't have the guile to crack a well drilled defence.
Goal hero Cox, who spent five years at Rugby Park as a teenager, said: "We've only been beaten once this season and that was by Dunfermline in the League Cup.
"I enjoyed my goal but I was unlucky not to score another when I hit the post."
Jubilant boss Harry Cairney said: "My players were magnificent. Ialways felt comfortable and thought we could have scored another."
AYR: Cuthbert; Armstrong, Smith, J. Robertson, Malone; Tiffoney (McGowan 59), Trouten, R. Robertson, Connolly; Paterson (Roberts 60), Burke (Moffat 54). Unused subs: McWilliams, Crawford. Booked: Armstrong, R. Robertson, Trouten.
ANNAN: Summersgill; Watson, McGowan, Gibson, Muirhead, McKechnie, Sloan, Jardine (Steele 81), Harty, O'Connor (Bell 61), Cox (Gilfillan 81). Unused subs: Hislop, MacBeth.
Referee: Craig Charleston; Crowd: 1232.