Ladbrokes Championship



By Hugh Maxwell and Calum Campbell

Pictures: David Sargent

THE Honest Men bounced back from defeat at Dingwall with a hard-fought victory at Firhill thanks to a second-half header from Michael Rose. Backed by a huge 955 travelling supporters, Ayr remain four points clear in second place and a single point behind leaders Ross County.

Ayr started brightly and it took just six minute for the first moment of real controversy to arrive/ A wonderful reverse pass from Declan McDaid sent Shankland into the box behind the Partick defence. As the striker made in on goal, Thistle defender Penrice blatantly chose to plant a two-handed shove in the back of the United striker sending him to the turf. Unbelievably referee Bobby Madden, well behind the play, and his assistant failed to spot anything amiss in what was the first of several contentious decisions by the official throughout the afternoon.

Moments later a corner from the right was cleared from the box but Andy Murdoch header back in and Jamie Adams reacted first but failed, at full stretch, to make strong contact, allowing Bell to save.

Craig Moore then tried his luck after pouncing on a mistake by Bannigan but his left-footed shot from just inside the box was easily collected by Bell in 10 minutes.

Other than a couple of speculative shots from distance, the first real chance for the home side came in 26 minutes when Jose Quitongo met a cross from Elliot with a header that went wide.

Ayr were unlucky not to be ahead as half-time approached when both Moore and Andy Geggan failed to convert two good chances.

In 39 minutes, a long free-kick into the box by Murdoch was knocked down to Moore by Adams and the United man quickly controlled and switched to his left foot but his snap shot went narrowly wide. Five minutes later, Thistle failed to clear a cross from the left and a Shankland shot was blocked and deflected into the path of Geggan who failed to keep the ball down and it flew over the bar.

It was almost a dream start for United in the second half. with the ball in the net after 48 mins, however, it was ruled offside. A stramash in the box saw Adams knock the ball over the line but referee Madden deemed the Ayr captain to be offside and the goal was disallowed.

After 20 minutes of midfield battles, on and off-field spats, substitutes, and fierce tackles, Ayr carved out their next chance clear chance. McDaid whipped in a free kick from the left and Moore’s delightful twisting headed flick was just inches wide of the far post and the onrushing Lawrence Shankland.

Moments later, a lapse in the Thistle defence saw Shankland with an effort on goal come rebounding off the bar and Moore’s follow-up header cleared off the line.

There was a sense that Ayr were close to a goal, and in 77 minutes the Honest Men got just that. An mAlan Forrest corner from the right was powerfully headed off the bar by Rose dropping close to the line. Just to ensure that Referee Madden was in no doubt, Craig Moore then bundled the ball into the back of the net. Both players were eager to claim the goal, Moore later confirming that Madden had noted him as the scorer, but TV evidence showed that the ball had crossed the line on its rebound from Rose’s header and Rose was credited with the goal.