AYR United hat-trick hero Anton Dowds has hailed the club's new manager Scott Brown for giving the side an "identity".

Dowds was full of praise for the Somerset Park boss after the Partick Thistle loanee notched all three goals as United won 3-2 away to Airdrieonians on Saturday.

It was the third time that Ayr have faced off against Rhys McCabe's side this season, and the third time they've taken all three points from the fixture.

The Honest Men started the match in fine form with Dowds notching his first goal of the afternoon less than ten minutes in.

Cammy Ballantyne levelled before half-time, but Ayr came out of the blocks at full tilt after the break, with Dowds firing the visitors back in front from a superb back-heel assist by Jamie Murphy three minutes after the break.

Some quick thinking from a free-kick helped Dowds complete his hat-trick on 78 minutes - and though Craig Watson's late header made for a nervy final five minutes, Ayr defended resolutely to secure a win that moves then to within four points of the promotion play-offs.

Speaking to Ayr United TV (AUTV) after the game, boss Brown praised his side for how they handled the opposition.

He commented: “It was very competitive.  Both teams tried to play football. We knew they were going to have large periods of possession in their own half, but we were quite comfortable with that.

“Defensively we were solid. That’s what we wanted. We knew they were going to have chances but it’s about how the lads react to that.

“We made a couple of changes at half time in terms of the way we were going to press and personnel.”

Brown also pointed towards several of the individual performancess which helped guide the Honest Men to victory.

Brown told AUTV: “Ben (Dempsey) has done really well since coming in. So has Roy (Syla) – it’s that movement on the ball. They do the distance but now it’s about getting them on the ball and keeping the ball and continuously moving.

“The lads have done that really well. Those two are the engine in the middle of the park for us. They start the press and they finish it as well; they’ve got a good understanding of the game.

“Anton [Dowds] is a fantastic finisher. We see that day in day out at training, and we were just delighted he managed to get on the end of all three.

“He’s a huge focal point for us and the way we want to play, he’s got lovely feet, he brings people into the game and he’s got a great understanding of how we want to play.”

Ayr Advertiser: Anton Dowds.Anton Dowds. (Image: Charlie Gilmour Photography)

And Dowds in turn hailed the new boss for the way he's stamped his authority on the United team less than a month into the role.

“There’s been a great backing ever since the manager came in," he told AUTV.

"It’s given the club a wee bit of a bounce.

“Since the manager’s came in, we’ve got an identity.

“I think there was lots of positives to take from our first win and we’ve carried on from two really good performances [against Dundee United and Rangers].

“In those two games we were the underdog. Today was different; there was a little bit of expectancy, and it was about 'how do we handle that?'.

"Bar the 20-30 minutes at the end of the first half I think we stood up to that.

“Especially when you lose that second goal with ten minutes to go – that’s a real test of character – seeing that out really breeds confidence in the group.”

Next up for Ayr it's a home double-header, with Raith Rovers visiting on Saturday, February 24 before Partick Thistle rock up at Somerset three days later.

Saturday's game gets under way at 3pm while next Tuesday night's match has a 7.45pm kick-off.

To watch post-match interviews with both Scott Brown and Anton Dowds in full, see ayrunitedfc.co.uk/ayr-united-tv.