Records are there for breaking...
Well. I wasn't expecting that. Ayr United's 3-0 Ramsdens Cup win against Raith Rovers at Cappielow on Tuesday night leaves Brian Reid's men in confident mood ahead of the trip to Dens Park, and the gaffer with a real selection headache. Dundee haven't lost a home game in the league since January 2010 - a run of 23 games (during which they have entered - and exited - administration) but this could be a great chance for United to end that record and pick up a first league win in the City of Discovery for over 30 years.
Veterans Mark Roberts and Alex Burke along with Alan Trouten and Micheal McGowan and Andy Geggan made way on Tuesday for Academy kids Gareth Armstrong (17), Roddy Paterson (18) - both making their first competitive starts - Ross Robertson and Jonathan Tiffoney (both 20) while 19 year old St. Mirren kid Jamie McKernan also came into the midfield and the kids provided three goals and a Man of the Match award between them. While it seems unlikely that Brian Reid will stick with an inexperienced midfield of Robertson, McKernan, Tiffoney and Moffat, I'd be happy to see Robertson retain his place in the centre of the park alongside Geggan. What 'Rosco' may lack in finesse he certainly offers in effort and dig that will be needed this season on the road. At left midfield McGowan is the obvious choice after an impressive display against Hamilton while its a toss up between Tiffoney and Trouten on the right. The defence picks itself, with Armstrong - who penned a professional deal at Somerset Park this week - surely set to keep the No. 2 shirt despite his age. Tiffoney is also an option but by all accounts the two linked up well with Tiff ahead of young Armstrong on the right on Tuesday and perhaps that caught the gaffer's eye. Upfront, its any two from Moffat, Marko, Wardlaw and Paterson. Paterson could be a dangerous addition from the bench later on in the game while Marko dropping into deeper role when Ayr don't have the ball could work well. You will notice no place from Alex Burke.
To take anything from Dens we are going to have to address the one big weakness. But for a) some excellent set piece deliveries from Dougie Imrie; b) an experienced 6ft 2in defender in the substantial form of Mark McLaughlin; and c) McLaughlin's equally experienced defensive partner Simon Mensing getting away with a clear foul on Kevin Cuthbert, United could have taken a share - if not all three - points on Saturday but its a type of goal Brian Reid's sides have been conceding for too long. Ominously for tomorrow Dundee pose their own danger men that could exploit our set-piece Achilles heal. Matt Lockwood's Wikipedia page describes the 34 year old player-assistant manager as a 'set piece specialist' while in Craig McKeown and former Arsenal and Wales international Rhys Weston they have a couple of centre-backs who could cause our defence problems at free-kicks and corners.
Barry Smith has added some experienced players over the summer after their administration woes left them literally begging, borrowing and stealing players last term but strikers Graham Bayne and Steven Milne are struggling with injury and without Gary Harkins questions surround the Dark Blue's goalscoring credentials. The Dees had to rely on a controversial penalty at Firhill on Saturday, and although they stuck four past a poor Dumbarton side also struggled against Arbroath. Playing away from home - and with little expectation - could suit an Ayr side who look strongest when counter attacking.
Regardless of some encouraging signs so far its hard to imagine we won't be struggling at the bottom end of the table this season, so its important get some points on the board. Dundee might prove an unexpected opportunity to start the ball rolling.