Insipid display puts brakes on title push

Pic credit Christopher Coutts.

Pic credit Christopher Coutts.

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Forfar Athletic fell four points behind in the League One title race after they lost to a solitary goal to Ayr United at Somerset Park.

Jordan Preston’s strike separated the sides on an afternoon battered by brutal weather conditions.

Dick Campbell fielded an unchanged side from last week’s win over Dunfermline, although Gavin Malin took Aaron James’ spot on the bench after the defender departed the club with U20 goalkeeper Jason King deputising for Ross Salmon as sub keeper.

The Loons had the first chance of the game with Chris Templeman seeing a shot blocked from close range in the first minute before Ayr’s Alan Forrest fired over from the edge of the box.

Dale Hilson then had his shot blocked just inside the area in the 24th minute as Forfar started to look the more threatening.

In the 31st minute Stephen Husband and Gavin Swankie played a one-two and the striker advanced into the box, but his shot was deflected into David Hutton’s arms.

Three minutes later Ayr took the lead against the run of play, David Robertson capitalising on a loose ball to play in the Honest Men’s loanee striker Preston who fired home under pressure.

In the final moments of the first half, Husband sent a long range effort over the bar while Forrest nodded past the post for Ayr.

Danny Denholm came on at half time for Swankie and was involved straight away, his ball allowing Hilson to cut the ball into the box, keeper Hutton smothering it a split second before Omar Kader could get his leg to the ball.

Chances were few and far between in the second half with the next opportunity coming in the 65th minute.

Less than 14 seconds after coming on, Martyn Fotheringham saw his 25 yard effort crash off the crossbar before being cleared.

In the 72nd minute Adam Blakeman curled the ball into Rab Douglas’s arms while Husband fired over again from Fotheringham’s corner.

Husband was involved again in the last minute, swinging a cross in for Templeman but his header was held well by the keeper.

Ayr almost added a second in injury time, with the Loons down to 10 men due to Iain Campbell limping off, as a counter attack ended with Craig Murray on his own in the box but Douglas pulled off a great save.

Dick Campbell said: “Ayr United are fighting for their lives, and they deserved to win the game. We’ve had one shot on goal. We had all the possession in the second half. The first 25 minutes, Ayr haven’t been up the park, but their first shot on goal they score from the edge of the box. It’s a bad goal from my point of view.

“All the best to Ayr United, they deserved to win the game. With all the teams round about us winning, I’m not exactly jumping through hoops.

“I’m just disappointed, their goalie’s not had a save to make and that’s not like us at all. If you come down to Ayr and can’t make their goalie make a save, you don’t deserve anything from the game.

“I thought we were very poor.”

Ayr united: Hutton, Devlin, Blakeman, Murphy, McKenna, McGovern, Murray, Robertson (Crawford, 61), Preston (Donnelly, 82), Forrest (Beattie, 53), Donald

Subs not used: Newman, Gilmour, Neill, McCracken

forfar athletic: Douglas; Travis (Malin, 80), Malcolm, Dods, Campbell; Kader (Fotheringham, 64), Young, Husband, Swankie (Denholm, 46); Templeman, Hilson

Subs not used: Salmon, Dale, Steeves, Baxter