Queen of the South 3 v 1 Ayr United
United suffered a disappointing 3-1 Championship defeat to Queen of the South on Saturday. Michael Moffat cancelled out an opening goal from Kevin Holt, but Queens restored and extended their lead through Connor Murray and Gary Oliver to take the win at Palmerston Park.
Ayr looked the stronger side in the opening stages and created several good chances with Craig Moore and Stephen Kelly both getting close in short succession. Ayr looked to be taking charge and looked the more likely to score but it was Queen of the South who opened the scoring on 18 mins against the run of play. A good passing move between Stephen Dobbie and Darren Lyon fed Kevin Holt at the left post who drilled a tight-angled shot under Ross Doohan.
The hosts changed their tactics to a more conservative approach and Ayr struggled to get past the tight and deep-sitting defence.
Despite the toil, United kept grinding away and found a well-deserved equaliser on 38 mins. Luke McCowan delivered a high cross which was met by Moore at the right post. He knocked it down across the goal for Michael Moffat who tapped it in to make it 1-1 and Ayr were back in the game.
On 44mins Ayr created a glorious chance with good work on the left resulting in the ball coming in at pace allowing a flicked shot by Moffat that went inches past the post. Queens breathed a sigh of relief and the sides went in all even at the break.
It was a spirited start to the second half and either side could have been next to score. Queens should have capitalised on 60 mins when the ball fell to the unmarked Connor Murray on the penalty spot, but he mishit and couldn’t keep his volley on target.
Ayr came close only three mins later when a short corner eventually came in for a Sam Roscoe header, but Queens’ keeper Robby McCrorie punched the ball clear.
It was the hosts who were the first to find the back of the net in the second half. On 67 mins, a one-two between Dobbie and Murray brought Queens into the penalty area and, as Ayr failed to clear, it was picked up again by Murray who slammed home into the top right-hand corner.
While United had stayed determined when trailing in the first half, heads went down this time. The only serious effort came from McCowan who tested McCrorie with a powerful drive that looked goal-bound on 71 mins, but the keeper did well to deny him.
The Doonhamers gained the upper hand and doubled their lead on 74 mins. A long cross from Dobbie reached Scott Mercer on the right for a cutback into the path of Gary Oliver who slotted a first time shot home.
Matters got worse for Ayr on 78 mins when Luke McCowan was sent off for a challenge on Oliver and United were down to ten men.
Queen of the South were now in full control and played the remaining minutes down trouble-free to secure the 3-1 scoreline and the maximum three points.
Ayr remain second in the league, but table-toppers Dundee United are six points clear.
United now have a three-week break before welcoming Arbroath to Somerset Park in the Championship at the end of November.
Queen of the South
McCrorie, Mercer, Holt, Kilday, Brownlie, Pybus, Murray, Kidd, Hamilton, Dobbie, Lyon Substitutes: Leighfield (GK), Oliver, McCarthy, Semple, Irving, Gourlay
Doohan, Houston, Muirhead, Roscoe, Harvie, Moore, Docherty, Kelly, Forrest, Moffat, McCowan Substitute: Hare-Reid (GK), Ecrepont, Bell, McGuffie, McKenzie
Referee: Don Robertson