Ladbrokes League One



By Hugh Maxwell and Calum Campbell

Pictures: David Sargent

UNITED went three points clear at the top of League One as they eased to a 2-0 victory at Station Park against Forfar.

While the conditions were nowhere near as bad as Wednesday in Arbroath, the strong wind and cold made things difficult for both teams.

Ayr had the benefit of the wind behind their back in the first half and in the second the defensive line coped comfortably with a Forfar team determined to pull away from the bottom end of the league and buoyed by their victory over Raith in midweek. Centre backs Bell and Rose, in particular, showed a tenacity and composure that helped to negate the Angus side's attacking attempts.

Almost from the kick-off United caused panic in the Forfar defence when keeper McCallum rushed out of his box to shepherd a log Ruddy kick-out out of play. He hadn’t reckoned on the determination of Lawrence Shankland who sneaked in behind him, stole the ball and was only prevented from causing further damage by full-back Whyte slamming the ball out.

Forfar were showing nervousness and disquiet at the back with centre-back Munro and keeper McCallum resorting to yelling at and shoving each other over a failure to clear after McDaid went close just two minutes later.

In10 minutes, Ayr went ahead following some dazzling skill by Michael Moffat. The striker received the ball Paddy from Boyle, wide on the left, then nutmegged Millar before surging into the box and curling a shot across the face of goal and in at the back post.

Forfar's first chance of the game came on 18 minutes when Easton found space in the box but Andy Geggan blocked his shot from close range. The hosts were beginning to grow in confidence and almost found an opening in 28 minutes. Again Easton was causing problems but when Dingwall passed the ball into his path he blazed well over.

Forfar had the first chance of the second half when Ruddy fumbled a 30-yard wind-assisted driven free-kick from Millar but the United goalie grasped the ball back as it tried to squirm goalward.

Ayr's first opportunity of the second half came to Shankland in 51 minutes. Boyle’s cutback to Shankland in the box was slightly behind the striker who couldn’t get a proper connection but still forced the keeper McCallum into an acrobatic one-handed save.

McDaid was put through into the box on the right by Forrest but under close attention from Whyte, he could only drive his shot high.

Forrest had been causing the Forfar defence problems all game and almost picked up a goal of his own in 62 minutes. Receiving a pass from Shankland, Forrest side-stepped Whyte to create a space but he got back and blocked.

Ayr were on fire and moments later the tireless Shankland burst down the left before sending a looping cross to the back post where Declan McDaid volleyed first-time but again saw his shot rise over the bar.

Ayr were awarded a penalty in 80 minutes. Shankland sprinted past Munro in the box who saw no other option than to drag the United man back. A penalty was awarded, and Munro was dismissed for his troubles. Substitute Craig Moore stepped up and slammed the ball down the middle to give Ayr a two goal cushion.

In 85 minutes, it looked like Ayr had another penalty when defender Bain barged Moore in the back as he drove into the box, going one-on-one with the keeper. Referee Kevin Graham waved the claim away.