AYR United boss Lee Bullen has urged the club's "phenomenal" fans to stick by his players

The Somerset Park boss spoke to the Advertiser said the club's supporters had a huge role to play in getting the team out of their championship rut.

A 4-0 loss at home to Partick Thistle in front of the BBC's live TV cameras was Ayr's fourth defeat in a row, with only Inverness - who parted company with their manager Billy Dodds on Monday - keeping the Honest Men off the bottom of the table.

A goal in the opening two minutes from Brian Graham gave Thistle the interval lead, before Steven Lawless added a second on 58 minutes.

That opened the floodgates, with Lawless adding a second before former Ayr man Oluwatomisin Adeloye rounded off the scoring.

After the match, Bullen asked the fans to continue to back the players, and himself, as sections of the support call for his dismissal.

He said: “The support base has been absolutely fantastic while I’ve been at the football club.

“We’re going through a tough time. Football is like that - there’s small groups of fans at every football club where they just need that opportunity to air their opinions.

“To be fair, a majority of the supporters here have been absolutely phenomenal, and continue to be that.

“It’s a great football club. We appreciate all their support, but we also appreciate that they are hurting at the moment, as we are, as the players are, as I am.”

Bullen says the added boost the support can provide could make all the difference as Ayr look to recapture the form that took them to last season's promotion play-offs.

He continued: “I’m trying to ask the fans to stick with the players. Give them your support as much as you possibly can for the 90 minutes.

“Should results go our way, give them a clap; should results not go our way, I fully understand they’ve got opinions at the final whistle, but during the 90 minutes I just ask them to stick behind the lads.

“All it takes is a minute or two minutes in a game that can change everything completely.

“I know there was a bit of shouting on Friday, but a majority of the fans that I spoke to after the game gave a 'keep your heads up, that was a much better performance, well done, we can get out of this’ - they can see there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“Bizarrely, after a 4-0 loss it was a lot more positive than after the 1-0 defeat against Falkirk in the cup.”

And Bullen was feeling a lot more positive as he felt his side performed the best they have in their five league games so far.

He told the Advertiser: “It’s embarrassing saying it, but if you take the four goals out of the game there’s nothing in the game to be honest. We gave as good as we got for large parts.

“I genuinely think, in the league anyway, it’s the best performance we’ve put on - and we’ve walked away with a 4-0 defeat.

“I feel pretty bad saying that, but in general play, statistically and physically, boys worked their tails off, and they never gave up, even at 4-0.

“We’re just getting punished for every little mistake, and we can’t take advantage of the opportunities we create.”

And after four losses in their first five matches, plus defeats to Livingston in the Betfred Cup and Falkirk in the SPFL Trust Trophy, Bullen is understandably determined to focus on the positives wherever he can.

“We played way worse against Inverness and ended up coming away with a win," he said.

"We will play worse than that against Partick this season and we’ll get a victory somewhere along the line.

“It’s just trying to get the players to believe, and I think the overall performance brought a little bit of belief back to them.

“You sound like a fraud when you say ‘it was really good’ – you got beat 4-0, you numpty – but I think we’re at a stage where we need to look beyond results at the moment and try and garner some sort of positive feedback for the players.

“There was so much good stuff that we were able to show the players, from that side of things, but we showed them the goals we conceded as well.

"It’s important, we have to remember we have to sort that bit out."

United will be playing Friday night football again this weekend as they travel to face Queen's Park at Hampden at 7.45pm on September 22.

Looking forward to the match, Bullen said: “There’s a big saying, you get what you deserve in football, but that didn’t work on Friday night.

“It’s my job to try and keep the faith in these players, keep them confident, keep them going, keep them positive, keep showing them the good things that they’ve done and get the belief back in them that if they continue to work hard eventually breaks go your way.

“That’s what I’m hoping happens up at Hampden on Friday night.”