AYR boss Scott Brown says his team’s full focus is on “two huge games” as the Honest Men look to make sure of their place in the Championship next season.

Ayr came within 18 minutes of derailing Dundee United’s championship party at Tannadice on Saturday, only for Jim Goodwin’s men to all but tie up the title after Chris Mochrie’s solitary goal in front of 10,000 supporters at Tannadice.

Brown’s men had put in a resolute performance up to that point – but were dealt a hammer blow just short of the hour mark when Nick McAllister was shown a second yellow for a challenge on Glenn Middleton.

Speaking after the match Brown said he thought the red card was a harsh decision by referee Craig Napier – but admitted he was proud of his players in spite of the result.

“I thought in the first half we were excellent,” Brown told Ayr United TV. “We controlled the game really well; probably we weren’t creative enough in the final third but I thought the team, the effort, the workrate from start to finish was exceptional and I never felt like we were in any danger.

“For us the red’s a soft red. But Nick’s given the referee that decision to make, and we got no favours.

“I think we were a little hard done by with the goal. There’s always little things you can nitpick, and the crowd were a little bit anxious at one point, but fair play to Dundee United – they dug deep, and it maybe wasn’t their best performance, but they’ve managed to win the league.”

Saturday’s results leave Ayr five points clear of the relegation play-offs; a win against Partick Thistle at Firhill this Saturday would guarantee their place in the second tier, while a point could still do the job, depending on results elsewhere, before Ayr’s final match at home to Dunfermline on May 3.

The wild celebrations among the home support at full time on Saturday may have had a few Ayr fans casting their minds back to last season, when the Honest Men made it to the promotion play-offs before falling short, and perhaps even dreaming of an Ayr title triumph in 12 months’ time – but Brown says he’s a long way away from even thinking about what next season might hold in store.

“We’ve still got two huge games left,” he added. “Mathematically we’re not safe yet, so we need to make sure we’re ready for Partick, and then Dunfermline in the last game of the season.

“Those are two huge games. We’re not concentrating on next season – we need to make sure our mindset focuses on this season.”

Watch Scott Brown’s post-match interview in full, along with highlights from Saturday’s match, at ayrunitedfc.co.uk/ayr-united-tv.