AYR United boss Lee Bullen says his side will have to work harder if they are to turn their luck around after a disappointing downturn in form.

The manager's vow comes as the Honest Men prepare for what Bullen has dubbed a "six-pointer" away to bottom of the table Arbroath this Saturday.

Only two points separate the two teams - while Ayr dropped to eighth in the Championship table after Saturday's 3-1 defeat at home to Inverness.

Duncan Ferguson's men led at the break through Billy McKay's strike before a Morgan Boyes double made the points safe for the visitors, with Logan Chalmers' strike proving no more than a consolation.

“It’s devastating," Bullen told the Advertiser. "You lose any game of football and you understand the effect it has on so many people, whether it be my staff, players, the board or supporters.

“It’s not a nice place to be."

Bullen insists Ayr are capable of turning the tide after a poor run which has seen them win only one of their last 10 league matches - and which saw them kick off 2024 with a hugely disappointing 3-0 defeat at Morton.

And the manager insists that despite Saturday's result, there wasn't too much between the two teams.

“If you watch the actual game," he said, "the ultimate difference is Inverness took their opportunities and we didn’t.

"We got punished. Unfortunately that’s the way it’s going at the moment.

“We have to stay strong. We have to stay together and believe that we can turn it round because I truly believe we can.

“The overall performance wasn’t overly bad, as opposed to the Morton game.

“On all metrics, when you look at it, we were very similar, if not better, than Inverness – apart from the most important metric which was the final result.”

The Ayr manager says he appreciates supporters' frustrations - but appealed for fans to remain on side to help the team through their current dip in form.

“You’re hoping that people can see beyond the pure results and see the bigger picture," he continued.

“You’re hoping that if we continue like that then eventually something falls your way and you get the breaks your way.

“But talk is cheap. We have to go out and do it. We can see and we can talk, and we can show every stat under the sun, but ultimately the only stat that counts is the final result.”

The Somerset Park boss says he will focus on keeping his players positive heading into the match against an Arbroath side who were thumped 4-0 by Partick Thistle on Saturday.

But Bullen also knows there is no substitute for hard work.

“To both teams it’s regarded as a six-pointer," he said. 

"It’s a big game.

“We see it as an opportunity, rather than any sort of pressure, to get ourselves back in the pack and cling on the coat-tails of the teams above us.

“We can’t brush it [the negatives] under the carpet. We need to look at areas we need to improve on – but we’ve got to focus on positives, and focus on the belief, and eventually things go your way.

“When you’re at the top of the league, you get the odd break in your favour as we found last season. When you’re down the bottom end these breaks aren’t coming your way.

“That means we have to work a little bit harder to turn that luck in our direction, and we will do that. We are doing that.”

Bullen says his players' recent efforts show they are more than willing to put in the effort required to turn their fortunes around - even if that hard work hasn't been reflected in results.

He added: “The fans can’t walk away from it [the Inverness match] and say the players gave up. Not in any way.

“Logan scores a great goal and then we have two or three really good opportunities that we can go on and get something from the game.

“There have been one or two performances this year where you can point fingers at and say 'we need to be better'. But in most of the performances, win, lose or draw, the lads have worked hard.

“The fans want to see them roll their sleeves up and not give in – I think they have shown that.

“The performance in general has been pretty decent but the result has not gone our way.

"We just need to keep focussing on that, make our own luck, keeping working hard – harder than the opposition – and eventually it’s amazing how things start to go your way.”