Ladbrokes Championship



By Stewart McConnell

PUNCHLESS Ayr’s title hopes were dealt a major setback as they were floored by rejuvenated Falkirk.

It was their first defeat since October and ended their season-long 11-game unbeaten run at Somerset Park.

However they remain three points behind leaders Ross County with a game in hand and it's all still to play for.

They had defeated the struggling Bairns twice this season but were outgunned after producing what was by their own high standards a somewhat flat performance.

They were without top scorer Lawrence Shankland, sidelined with an achilles injury and he was certainly missed with fans still desperately hoping he will not be sold in the transfer window.

Alan Forrest, Andy Geggan were also sidelined with knocks in what was an important match. They had drawn three successive games but victory would take them into joint top spot.

The first chance fell to Falkirk in five minutes when an eight-yard effort from Ross Doohan was well saved by Ross Doohan.

Michael Moffat went on a surging run before hoisting an 18-yard effort just over the bar three minutes later.

Falkirk came close in 14 minutes when a strong 22-yard effort from new signing Ross McLean - one of five new faces in the Bairns line-up, was well handled by Doohan.

Michael Rose made a good challenge on visiting player Zak Rudden just outside the box in 20 minutes and a minute later Moffat saw his eight-yard shot saved by David Mitchell.

The Bairns missed a sitter when Rudden shot over the bar from eight yards with only the goalie to beat.

Moffat netted for Ayr in 34 minutes but the “goal” was chalked off for offside.

United had a great chance to break the deadlock in 51 minutes when Andy Murdoch shot inches wide from 25 yards.

A Craig Moore header from eight yards was saved by Mitchell. However Falkirk blasted into the lead in 56 minutes when a McLean shot was spilled by Doohan and Rudden rifled home the rebound from eight yards.

Home player Declan McDaid was booked for diving in 75 minutes.

The hosts came agonisingly close in 81 minutes when Liam Smith shot across the face of goal from 12 yards.

Ayr came so close in the dying minutes when Moffat, Steven Bell and Moore all squandered opportunities.

Rose ballooned a 25-yard free-kick over the bar three minutes into stoppage time to sum up what was a hugely frustrating afternoon for the home fans as first foots Falkirk went home with the three points.

AYR UNITED: Doohan; Harvie, Kerr Docherty 52) Rose, Moffat, CRAWFORD, Moore, McDaid, Bell, Murdoch (McGuffie 67) Smith. Subs not used: Hare-Reid, Higgins, McGuffie, Ferguson, Ecrepont, McCowan.

FALKIRK: Mitchell; Kidd, McGhee, McLean (O’Hara 71) Robson, McShane, Rudden (Lavery 90+4) McKee, Dixon, Waddington (Muirhead 90) McKenna. Subs not used: Fasan, Harrison, Brough, Irving.


Michael Moffat 3

Steven Bell 2

Declan McDaid 1

Attendance: 2,729

Referee: John Beaton.