Ayr welcomed their visitors from the capital city to a sunny Belmont for the early morning kick off.
The away side were first to show when their pacey No 9 slipped his marker in the opening minute but his cross from wide came to nothing.
Although both sides had more or less an equal percentage of the ball, a real battle for midfield supremacy was going on at the same time.
Both teams were finding difficulty carving out any clear cut chances until the the half hour mark when Ayr produced a terrific opportunity to take the lead.
Ayr centre back Callum Bryce won the ball well just inside his own half and as the Hearts defence pushed up he played the ball through to Ayr striker Kaylum Ferguson.
The striker caught the Hearts defenders square and ran through unopposed on goal. However, with just the keeper to beat Ferguson fired the ball from the edge of the box narrowly past the far post.
Perhaps it was one to take the ball further into the box before shooting. As often happens in football the next twist and turn in this game proved to be costly for the home side.
Four minutes before the interval a corner was cheaply conceded. As the ball was flighted towards the front post area, Ayr keeper Graham tried to win the ball from the Hearts striker but unfortunately the keeper got no real proper contact with the ball. The ball then broke kindly for the No 9 who had a relatively simple task of prodding the ball home.
Half Time : Ayr United 0 Hearts 1
Ayr set out at the start of the second half on the front foot and certainly upped the tempo of their game in the opening minutes.
However, just as Ayr were beginning to take some form of control they conceded a hugely disappointing goal. The away keeper launched a long kickout right down the middle and with Ayr’s defence pushing up the ball bounced once allowing the on running striker the easiest of tasks to lob the ball into the net. Ayr keeper Graham appeared to be stranded in no man’s land when a higher starting position might have helped prevent the goal.
In the context of the game a disastrous and hugely damaging goal to concede so early in the second half.
Ayr immediately made two changes replacing Aidan Moffat and Kaylum Ferguson with front players Paul Smith and Danny Mitchell. Switching to a 4-4-2 set up Ayr again began to take more control of the game and started to create some half chances.
However with 20 minutes in the home team imploded once more. Full back Nohar took the ball inside but into a busy midfield area which saw possession lost. Again a quick through ball saw the Hearts winger easily net past the advancing Graham.
It really needed one of Ayr’s centre backs to drop off immediately the ball went inside but this was to be a day of some questionable decision making at key times in the game.
There were certainly not three goals in the game with regard to overall play but mainly down to the cheap goals conceded.
Ayr were now pressing hard for a breakthrough and this paid off in the 70th minute. Ayr midfielder Robbie Laurie picked the ball up some twenty five yards from goal and unleashed a terrific strike into the top left hand corner of the net.
Ayr had now switched Paul Smith through the middle playing just off Danny Mitchell and his movement began to pay off.
Firstly, a good ball up to the striker saw space open up but unfortunately Smith pulled his shot wide when a little more composure might have served him better. Minutes later saw Smith was played in on the right hand side of the box and although he got his shot away it was blocked firstly by a Hearts defender and then under heavy pressure last gasp defending saw the ball finally cleared. Ayr could well have had a penalty kick when striker Smith was barged in the box but unfortunately honesty is not always rewarded as Smith stayed on his feet and the chance was lost.
Ayr replaced midfielder Joe Barker with front man Danny Wamuziri in an effort to inject further pace up top. In fact Wamuziri did well on a couple of occasions to show good persistence and pace in delivering decent balls into the box.
A wasted free kick apart by Ayr striker Mitchell near the end saw the conclusion to a very disappointing day for the home side.
Full Time : Ayr United 1 Hearts 3.
Head Coach John Crawford voiced his disappointment at the manner of the goals conceded. The coach said, ‘The goals we conceded today were very soft and very avoidable. You simply cannot ship goals of that nature to good sides and expect to win. This was a also a day when as a group our overall form and decision making was well below par and that is reflected in the result. We must pick ourselves up now and work hard to improve before our next game in a fortnight’s time. One poor performance shouldn’t over shadow the good player development and positive recent results’.
Ayr United :
Graham, Nohar, Bryce, Love, Oliphant, Griffiths, Laurie, Moffat, Barker, Skeoch and Ferguson.
Subs : Frew, Mitchell, Smith, Wamuziri and Brown.