AYR boss Scott Brown hailed the calming influence of Jamie Murphy after watching the Honest Men take a giant step towards Championship safety on Saturday.

Murphy wasn’t among the scorers in the 5-0 win over Arbroath at a windswept Somerset Park – a result which condemns the Red Lichties to League One football next term – but the former St Johnstone and Brighton man played a key role as Ayr made it four points out of six from a vital week on home turf.

First-half penalties from Kurt Willoughby and Anton Dowds, either side of a Frankie Musonda header, had the hosts firmly in control at the break, before Ben Dempsey ended any faint hopes of a fightback with a fourth midway through the second half.

Logan Chalmers put the icing on the cake with number five in the dying minutes as Ayr moved six points clear of the relegation play-off spot with three games remaining.

Hailing 34-year-old Murphy’s contribution, Brown told Ayr’s media team after the match: “On the ball or without the ball, he understands the role that he has to play.

“Murph is getting that little bit older, but he brings so much to the club, in the dressing room and on the pitch as well.”

The winger set up Ayr’s fourth goal with a quickly taken free kick after being tripped by Arbroath’s Scott Stewart, sending Dempsey scampering away down the left for a composed finish past Arbroath keeper Max Boruc.

“He gets a foul,” Brown reflected, “and the first thing he does is he gets up, plays that ball in behind and Ben’s already on the front foot.

“Small details like that could win you a game, and Murph’s got that in abundance.

“He creates, and he brings people into play, and his calmness and quality on the ball is why, in these games, we play him. We trust him and he always delivers.”

While Brown enjoyed plenty of 5-0 wins during his playing career, he revealed it was the first time he’d enjoyed such a big margin of victory since moving into management – and following the 1-1 draw with Morton last Tuesday night he said he was delighted to see the confidence flowing through a team that hasn’t always had that this season.

“I’ve never been involved in a game that we’ve won 5-0 as a manager,” he said.

It was fantastic sitting there and seeing the lads playing some good stuff and getting a little bit more confident as the game went on,” he said.

“Even the last goal pretty much summed the lads up. It was a fantastic ball down the line from Aiden [McGeady] in behind for Anton’s run, and Anton was very unselfish, tapping it across for Logan.”

And confidence could be vital for Brown and his players as they face a tough end to the season in their bid to confirm their Championship place for next season, with Dundee United at Tannadice and Partick Thistle at Firhill before facing Dunfermline at Somerset in their last game of the season on Friday, May 3.