Well the spectacular thunderstorm just before kick off was in complete contrast to the rather dreich first half performance by United, in this Friday night league fixture, as a 29th minute strike from Dunfermline forward Faissal El Bakhtaoui condemned Ayr to their third defeat in a row.
Dunfermline’s neat passing style soon helped them assume control and they dominated possession for large spells of the first half with good chances falling to El Bakhtaoui, Stirling and Falkingham during the opening 15mins. In fact Bakhtaoui looked to have opened the scoring in just 8 mins when Hutton appeared to let his initial shot squirm from his grasp on the slippy Somerset surface but the follow up shot from the Dunfermline striker came off the upright and behind for a goal kick to Ayr.
Dunfermline looked very comfortable in the first half and restricted Ayr to just a handful of chances, so it was no great surprise when in 29 mins a slip in the Ayr defence allowed El Bakhtaoui to find himself in acres of space on the edge of the Ayr penalty box as he wasted no time in lashing the ball past Hutton from 18 yards.
Ayr tried to respond immediately and in one of their few first half forays forward a Mikey Donald low drive forced Dunfermline’s keeper Scully into a fine reaction save diving low to his left to deny the Ayr winger.
Ayr’s frustration at the lack of attacking opportunities was evident for all to see and this resulted in bookings for Brian Gilmour and Paul Slane who both found themselves in the referee’s black book after a couple of rash challenges.
Ayr started the second half with a different attitude and took the game to Dunfermline with Kevin McKinley going close early on from around 20 yards with a drive that went just over Ryan Scully’s cross bar.
Soon afterwards Mark Roberts decided to freshen things up and replaced Ryan Donnelly with Craig Beattie after 52 mins. At the same time Jim Jefferies obviously felt Ayr were beginning to get the upper hand and replaced winger Andy Stirling with defender Alex Whittle. This seemed to give Ayr further impetus and they stormed forward heaping more pressure on to the Dunfermline rearguard. Dunfermline quickly decided to make another change and replaced Urquhart with Ugwu in 56 mins.
As the second half progressed the game opened up as Ayr pressed and Dunfermline attempted to catch United out on the counter attack as both teams made more use of the wide areas and played some good passing football despite the slippery conditions.
In the 64th min Craig Beattie found space on the left hand side of the box and cut inside, his low angled drive had the Ayr fans on their feet as it appeared to beat keeper Scully at his right hand post but unfortunately for the Somerset faithful it was only the side netting. A minute later it was the Dunfermline fans on their feet as a great turn and shot by El Bakhtaoui in the Ayr penalty box whizzed past David Hutton’s head but crashed back of his cross bar to the relief of the Ayr defence and the dismay of the Pars fans situated behind his goal at the Railway End.
The game continued to flow from end to end but further goals eluded both sides and more substitutions followed with Ayr replacing Forrest and Gilmour with Shirkie (70′) and Crawford (79′).
And in the 82nd minute two former Ayr players swapped roles as Andy Geggan replaced a rather subdued Michael Moffat who looked a bit sheepish, when being substituted, clapping the Dunfermline supporters as he left the field of play.
In the final 5 minutes Ayr again went close as two opportunities fell to the impressive Peter Murphy in the space of a minute but he was unable to convert and Dunfermline held on for a valuable 3 points.
Hutton; Devlin; McKinlay; Murphy; McLaughlin; Gilmour; Forrest; Slane;Donnelly; McGovern; Donald
Newman; Beattie; Crawford; Muir; Shirkie; McGill; McArthur
Scully; Williamson; Millen; Spence; Buchanan; Urquhart; El Bakhtaoui; Byrne; Moffat; Falkingham; Stirling
Goodfellow; Ugwu; Forbes; Geggan; Whittle; Drummond; Chemin
Report by AUMedia