This morning saw Ayr hosting rapidly improving Fife Elite following the Honest Men losing heavily the previous week to Hamilton.
This in fact proved to be yet another uncomfortable day for the Ayr team.
The first half was played at a high tempo with neither side gaining any real territorial advantage although Fife did look dangerous on the counter attack.
Ayr were first to show when Robert Frew fashioned a bit of space but his shot was easily held by the away keeper.
Fife then forced a corner kick on the break which nearly produced the opening goal.
Ayr’s achilles heel in defending set pieces from the previous week reared its head once again. As the ball was delivered into the box Fife’s centre back was given space and time to shoot past the post when he should have done much better.
Ayr then had a decent claim for a penalty kick when a Fife defender appeared almost to ‘catch the ball’ but play was waved on by the match official.
In 22 minutes Ayr very nearly broke the deadlock when first Gabe Skeoch’s shot was blocked by the keeper but Joe Barker following up knocked the rebound past the near post.
Ayr then suffered a real blow when their captain and main striker Gabe Skeoch suffered a nasty ankle injury following a robust challenge by a Fife defender.
Following a visit to A & E ligament damage was diagnosed and a 6 week period of rehab lying in front of the unfortunate player.
Ayr front man Daniel Wamuziri duly replaced the injured striker. Wamazuri in fact was quick to show down Fife’s right hand side and following a good run shot past the far post.
However, just on the interval Ayr conceded the all important first goal and again from yet another set piece.
A soft free kick was conceded 30 yards out and as the ball was flighted towards the penalty area it took a nick off an Ayr player’s head.
The ball was diverted from it’s original flight path to an unmarked Fife player who shot past Ayr keeper Graham from close in.
Although there had been little between the teams in the first period Ayr had again caused their own problems with poor marking in their penalty box.
Half Time : Ayr United 0 Fife Elite 1.
Ayr started the second half with a renewed determination and came close to a leveller when Joe Barker beat a couple of defenders but his strong shot was just finger tipped past the post by the away keeper.
Fife then went close when their No 10 narrowly shot past.
Ayr replaced Logan Angus with Ryan Hannah in midfield withJoe Barker moving just behind the main striker.
However, just as Ayr were starting to build up a head of steam they conceded a corner kick. As the ball was flighted across towards the back post a Fife player lost his marker and headed back across goal.
Again a Fife player was allowed space and time to fire the ball home from 8 yards.
Ayr then replaced injured centre back Hamish Brown with David Oliphant which saw Finn Ecrepont moving to centre back. Ayr had by now switched to a 4-4-2 set up and proceeded to have their best 20 minute spell of the game.
With 70 minutes on the clock Ayr came very close to pulling a goal back when first midfielder Ryan Hannah’s strong shot was blocked but as the ball broke to Ayr centre back Ross Love his fierce shot from 14 yards was again blocked by a defender.
However, Ayr then pressed the self destruct button when possession was lost and Fife hit quickly on the counter attack.
As the play built up Ayr looked to have dealt with the first danger but as the cross came in from the right an Ayr defender in attempting to flick the ball clear only succeeded in diverting it straight to the Fife striker. The Fife forward then had the simplest of tasks to beat Ayr keeper Graham from close in.
Ayr replaced midfielder Euan Griffiths with Callum Bryce for the last quarter of an hour.
More of the same followed with Ayr not looking remotely like scoring and Fife going close on a couple more occasions with their quick counter attacks.
Full Time : Ayr United 0 Fife Elite 3.
Ayr Head Coach John Crawford was deeply disappointed with the result and again the manner in which the goals were conceded. Crawford said, ‘Until we start defending set plays properly we are going to continue to lose goals that is for sure’. The coach also added, ‘ Although we can look at poor goals conceded in the last two games we also have to do much better in the last third of the pitch as we are not scoring goals and lack a genuine threat in front of goal’. Going forward if these two main areas of concern remain then we will continue to find winning matches extremely difficult’.
Ayr United : Graham, Nohar, Brown, Love, Ecrepont, Griffiths, Laurie, Angus, Barker, Frew, Skeoch.
Subs : Hannah, Bryce, Oliphant, Wamuziri, McKinnon.
Next weekend the Ayr team travel to Tannadice Road to play Dundee United in what is always a stern challenge .