A DRAMATIC bid for a first return to the top flight for the first time in four decades looks in doubt for Ayr after they were put to the sword by on-form Caley
After a flurry of early pressure from Caley, Ayr forged the first chance in five minutes when a Lawrence Shankland cross broke to Liam Smith who hit the side netting from eight yards.
Then a rasping 25-yard drive from Declan McDaid was well saved by visiting goalie Mark Ridgers three minutes later.
Caley spurned a good chance in 17 minutes when Jordan White headed the ball on to Joseph Chalmers who chipped over the bar.
Skipper Ross Docherty saw his shot from the edge of the box blocked in 23 minutes following good work from Michael Moffat, Lawrence Shankland and Smith.
McDaid made a surging run to the edge of the box in 25 minutes but was foiled by a fine block from Brad McKay.
However in 33 minutes Caley went ahead when a Chalmers corner-kick was powerfully headed home from six yards by Charlie Trafford.
McDaid blasted over the bar from eight yards with the goal at his mercy two minutes later.
United made a double change at half-time with Robbie Crawford, injured in a challenge with Charlie Trafford, in which he came off worst, replaced by Mark Kerr.
McDaid saw his 16-yard strike saved by Ridgers. However less than a minute later Caley doubled their lead when three unmarked Jordan White shot home from eight yards, despite suspicions of offside.
Smith’s cross into the box was booted clear by the Ayr defence in 58 minutes.
United had a great chance in 62 minutes when a Luke McCowan rocket from eight yards was well saved by the visiting goalie. A Shankland rocket was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Rodgers just a minute later.
Ayr were back in the Match in 65 minutes when Michael Rose powerfully headed home a corner-kick from six yards.
Great play from Shankland won Ayr a corner in 69 minutes.
Caley were awarded a penalty in 75 minutes following a foul by McDaid on Polworth and White coolly netted from the spot.
AYR UNITED: Doohan:; Harvie, Rose, Moffat, Crawford, McDaid, Shankland, Murdoch, Docherty, Smith, Muirhead. Subs: Hare-Reid, Kerr, Forrest, Ecrepont, Cadden, Miller, Hewitt.
INVERNESS CT: Ridgers; Chalmers, Donaldson, McCart, Polworth, Dorian, Walsh, White, McKay, Trafford McHattie. Subs: Mackay (gk) Rooney, McCauley, Austin, McDonald, Harper.