Scorers: Ayr United - Moffat (2), Kelly (44); Stranraer - Cummins (42, 86)

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STRANRAER slayed the ghost of penalties past with a sensational shootout win over nearest rivals Ayr United.

Adam Cummins twice headed the Blues level to take the Betfred Cup tie to penalties, before a Dale Burgess save and Ryan Thomson's winning spot kick sent the travelling fans home happy.

With Mark Stewart attending a family wedding, Stevie Farrell handed a start to Carlo Pignatiello who missed the game against parent club Livingston, as Dale Burgess came in for Max Currie in goals.

Unfortunately for the keepr, his day would get off to the worst possible start.

Veteran striker Michael Moffat strode onto a long ball and shrugged off the attention of David Smith to slot home with just two minutes played.

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Burgess had to be alert to turn a Kris Doolan effort past the post, and then did very well to deny Moffat with the striker through on goal.

Stranraer were more than a match for their Championship opposition however, and created some good chances of their own in the first half.

First, Jordan Allan headed a James Hilton cross on target from a free kick out wide.

Then, Hilton himself found the side netting after home keeper Ross Doohan turned his effort past the post, before firing over with his next chance.

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The ex-Ayr man was giving his former club plenty to think about and it would take another save from Doohan to deny him.

Finally, the Blues found the equaliser their play deserved with just two minutes left of the first half.

Defender Adam Cummins rose highest at the back post to meet Hilton's cross, and powered a header past the keeper for his first goal of the season.

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But less than two minutes after the Blues levelled the scoring, Ayr would respond.

Jamie Hamill conceded a free kick 30 yards out, and Stephen Kelly catapulted a mesmerising strike into the top corner which left Burgess no chance.

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Far from discouraged, Stranraer took the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half.

Connor McManus brought a save from Doohan after good work from David Smith, and the keeper was again on hand to smother a Hilton effort at the near post.

Stevie Farrell sent on David Dangana, Scott Robertson and Ian Smith as the Blues looked for a way back into the contest.

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Dangana found the side netting with five minutes to go after collecting Thomson's flick on from another dangerous Allan delivery, but it would be Cummins who earned the plaudits.

The defender, who is in his second season at Stranraer after making the switch from Queen's Park, produced an important clearance to hack the ball away on the goalline.

Then with just four minutes remaining, the Liverpudlian rose highest at the back post once more to head home a carbon copy of his first goal.

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With neither side able to add a dramatic late winner, it came down to a penalty shootout - a scenario which some Stranraer fans might have been dreading after the harrowing shootout defeat three years earlier.

That day the Blues saw three nervy penalties saved out of four taken, but thankfully history would be rewritten on this occasion.

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With both sides - including goal hero Cummins - scoring their first five spot kicks, it went into sudden death.

Burgess dived low to save from Daniel Harvie, and Ryan Thomson coolly tucked away the winning penslty to earn Stranraer a deserved bonus point.

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Although the Blues' Betfred Cup progression hopes already over, the result denied United a place in the knockout stage and will give Stranraer a boost heading into their league campaign.

That gets underway next Saturday (3 August) as Stevie Farrell's men take on Montrose at Stair Park.

Stranraer: Burgess, Allan, Cummins, Hamilton (I Smith 82), D Smith (Robertson 72), Hamill, McManus, Hilton, Pignatiello (Dangana 64), Thomson, Elliott.
Not used: Currie, Robertson, I Smith, Dangana.

Ayr United: Doohan, Harvie, Roscoe, Moffat, Doolan (McGuffie 56), McCowan (Forrest 78), Ferguson, Bell, Murdoch, Docherty, Kelly (Kerr 69).
Not used: Hare-Reid, Muirhead, Ross, McKenzie.

Referee: Grant Irvine
Attendance: 1430
HT: 2-1

Photos: Stranraer FC

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