AYR will put their Championship lead on the line in what looks set to be a real Christmas cracker at Somerset Park this Friday night.

The Honest Men host Dundee in their final match of 2022 looking to bounce back from the disappointment of seeing a two-month unbeaten run ended at Firhill on Saturday.

Lee Bullen’s men remain top of the table by a single point after their 3-2 defeat by Partick Thistle, with Steven Lawless firing a controversial winner moments after ref David Munro failed to award a free kick for a bad challenge on Ayr’s Ben Dempsey, who was forced to limp off injured.

Dipo Akinyemi had maintained his comfortable advantage as the Championship’s leading scorer with a superb 20-yard strike in the ninth minute – his 15th of the campaign – only for Harry Milne to level midway through the half, before Brian Graham put the hosts in front in first-half stoppage time despite angry Ayr claims for offside.

Logan Chalmers curled in a brilliant second for Ayr at the start of the second half before Lawless’s winner for the hosts.

Dundee, along with fellow chasers Queen’s Park and Morton, were idle on Saturday after their games, along with most of the rest of Scottish football’s fixture lists, fell victim to the cold snap at the end of last week – meaning all three sides now have a game in hand on Ayr as the battle for promotion to the the Premiership gets ever tighter.

But victory at Somerset on Friday night would give Ayr some breathing space ahead of another huge clash to kick off 2023, against Morton at Cappielow on January 2.

Prior to Saturday’s loss at Firhill, Dundee had been the last team to get the better of Bullen’s side, after goals by Paul McMullan and Zach Robinson gave Gary Bowyer’s men a 2-1 win at Dens Park back on October 15.

But the sides’ last Somerset clash holds rather happier memories for the United players and supporters after Akinyemi’s double and a Ryan Houston strike earned a 3-1 victory over the Dark Blues in a match broadcast live on BBC Scotland.

Friday night’s Christmas cracker under the Somerset floodlights gets under way at 7.45pm