AYR boss Lee Bullen praised his players for not throwing in the towel after falling behind in their crunch clash with Morton at Somerset Park on Saturday.

Bullen insisted his squad’s relative lack of experience in promotion battles could have counted against them – but said the point gained by Frankie Musonda’s 62nd-minute header, after Calum Waters’ cross-cum-shot caught out keeper Charlie Albinson in the early moments of the second half, was the least the Honest Men deserved from an end-to-end clash.

That was despite seeing the league’s leading scorer, Dipo Akinyemi, come agonisingly close to a last-minute winner, and despite Ayr playing the last 18 minutes with an extra man after Morton’s George Oakley was shown a second yellow.

“There was a big question asked of the players at that point [when Waters scored],” Bullen told the club’s media team, “because I thought we had been the better team up to then.

“But the lads stood up to it, deservedly got the goal back, and I thought Dipo’s shot in the last minute had gone in the corner not the side netting.

“It wasn’t to be today, [but] it could still end up proving to be a pretty vital point in relation to where we want to be at the end of the season.”

The point leaves Ayr in the last of the Championship’s promotion play-off places – five points ahead of Inverness with one more match played, though Billy Dodds’ men could cut that gap to two when they host Arbroath on Tuesday night.

It also means Bullen’s men are four points off the one automatic promotion place – though that gap could grow to seven after Tuesday’s fixtures as leaders Dundee host host Raith Rovers.

And with nerves jangling in squads across the Championship, and a trip to Firhill to face in-form Partick Thistle this Saturday next up for Bullen and his players, the Ayr boss says he’s pleased at the way his players are rising to the challenges presented to them, despite a haul of seven points out of 15 from their last five league games.

“I don’t think it was a game we deserved to lose,” Bullen added, “but we could have done. 

“Given the high value nature of the game, and the nerves and lack of experience that our group of players have got at this level, of pushing at the top end of the league, it’s understandable. 

“It’s a new environment for our group of players. They’re having to stand up to loads of challenges which they’re probably not experienced in at the moment.”

Watch Lee Bullen’s post-match interview in full at ayrunitedfc.co.uk/ayr-united-tv.