DEFIANT Ayr United skipper Steven Bell insists his team are still in the title frame, despite losing their proud home unbeaten record.

But he insists the loss through injury of top scorer Lawrence Shankland was not to blame for the 1-0 reverse at home to struggling Falkirk. It was their first defeat at Somerset Park this season.

Bell said: "There are so many teams which are very similar, a lot of teams can take points off each other. If any team can go on a wee run that's obviously good for us, there's still a long way to go and a lot of points to play for. We had chances, I had a great one myself."

Ayr assistant Neil Scally said: "We had the best chances, didn't take them and that has come back to haunt us. Overall I thought we were the better team and I don't think Falkirk offered much in the game in terms of penetrating the defence. In the first half we didn't do an awful lot. It was disappointing given that some of the results at the weekend had gone for us."

Asked if Shankland had been missed he said: "There are 19 or 20 players, a lot of the balls went into the box and Craig Moore is a different player from Lawrence as is Michael Moffat, they will need to chip in the goals, you can't just keep relying on Lawrence. To saw we lost because he wan'#t playing is unfair on him. We had good chances in the second half to score."

Added Scally: "For me Falkirk have not really troubled us in our half and I am really disappointed to lose our unbeaten record in that fashion. We still have a game in hand on Ross County but it's disappointing not to win at home if we want to do well in the league, you have to build on your home games. We could have put a bit of pressure on other teams and have not done that."

Meanwhile boss Ian McCall admitted Shankland was still attracting interest, with a number of other players also being targeted. But there was no news on any bids.

Injuries are causing concerns ahead of Saturday's long trip north to face Inverness Caley Thistle, although Shankland (achilles) looks set to return.

McCall said: "We have a few problems, two or three players out we could cope with but any more than that would be difficult. We had Ross Docherty, Liam Smith and Michael Rose all playing despite carrying knocks on Saturday, we will just have to see how everyone is."

And he cautioned: "The league is tightening up, I can't see us winning 4-0 or 5-0 again."