Ladbrokes Championship



by Sunny Wyrich

Pix: David Sargent

IMPRESSIVE United recorded back-to-back Championship victories when they came from behind to beat nine-man Partick Thistle at Firhill.

First-half goals from Thistle’s Stuart Bannigan and Shea Gordon, with one from United’s Luke McCowan, gave the home team a 2-1 advantage at half-time but, with both Thistle goal scorers being sent off, the Honest Men had the edge and goals from Kris Doolan (on his return to Firhill and Stephen Kelly sealed the win.

The game started badly for Ayr when they were forced into an early substitution after Andy Murdoch went down injured in two minutes to be replaced by Mark Kerr. United coped well and found the net in10 minutes when Alan Forrest chipped it in from the left post, but the ‘goal’ was flagged offside. Four minutes later, Thistle opened the scoring. A mishit clearance ended up with Thistle’s new signing Dario Zanatta and as he broke into the box, he went down in front of the chasing Kerr and referee Andrew Dallas pointed to the spot. Former Ayr man Bannigan slotted the resultant penalty past Ross Doohan.

Although Ayr struggled against an invigorated Thistle side, they got back into the game in 23 minutes when McCowan picked up a sloppy header from Ben Hall and clipped the ball over outrushing keeper Jamie Sneddon and into the net from 15 yards. The Jags remained stronger and regained the advantage in 43 minutes. Zanatta broke through from his own half, beating four Ayr players, before passing to Alex Jones who returned the ball to Zanatta then fed it to Shea Gordon who netted from seven yards. The joy was short-lived though when Gordon saw a straight red for a challenge on McCowan a minute later

In 64 minutes, however, Bannigan was sent off for a straight-legged, open-studded, challenge on Stephen Kelly taking the hosts down to nine men. Ayr started to dominate, creating numerous chances. The equaliser came in 71 minutes when a poor clearance fell to Steven Bell 25 yards out. He fired a shot at goal which hit the left post, and the rebound was picked up by former Firhill favourite Kris Doolan who netted. Ayr took the lead six minutes later. Forrest played a short pass to Kelly who, from 18 yards, lifted a spectacular shot into the top right-hand corner. United were in control with victory moving them into second place.

AYR UNITED: Doohan; Harvie, Geggan, Doolan, Forrest, McCowan, Bell, Adams, Murdoch, Docherty, Kelly Subs: Hare-Reid (GK), Muirhead, Kerr, Roscoe, Moffat, McGuffie, Houston.