The Honest Men made the journey up the A77 to play their Paisley rivals in what is always a close affair
Ayr were determined to build on some very good away wins this season and made a solid start in very wintry conditions.
Ayr were playing into the face of a strong easterly wind which was blowing down the pitch.
Although the home side had the wind advantage Ayr largely controlled the majority of the first half. St Mirren’s No 9 held the ball up well for the home side which meant Ayr had to focus hard on denying him space.
Although chances were few and far between Ayr were making some headway through getting midfielder Joe Barker forward more to support striker Kaylum Ferguson.
Gabe Skeoch and Aidan Moffat were also supporting well and the latter was unlucky on two occasions when threading balls through. Ayr nearly broke the deadlock on the half hour mark when good work down the left saw Skeoch link up well with Ferguson but the final ball just eluded Joe Barker.
Barker then got his head on a deep cross in the box at the back post but unfortunately just got caught slightly inside the ball.
St Mirren however showed their threat when a good switch of play to the right which saw a shot go diagonally past keeper Graham’s right hand post.
As the interval approached no further chances were created by either team and the sides went in level.
Half Time : St Mirren 0 Ayr United 0
St Mirren came out for the second half with increased impetus and were now attempting to put Ayr under more pressure.
Again though there were no real chances created by either side as we approached the half hour mark.
However, Ayr then very nearly took the lead. As the home side pushed forward Ayr won the ball back and countered quickly. The ball was moved up Ayr’s left side and a good pass from Euan Griffiths found Gabe Skeoch driving into the box. Although Skeoch got across the defender he just failed to make enough contact to finish off the move.
Ayr then made their first change of the afternoon by sending on striker Danny Mitchell for the industrious Aiden Moffat and changing to a 4-4-2 system.
With Robbie Laurie now right side, Gabe Skeoch left and Ferguson and Mitchell through the middle Ayr looked to stretch the hosts.
As the game reached the final twenty minutes Ayr finally made the all important breakthrough.
Another good break from the left saw Gabe Skeoch play in Joe Barker who had made another of his trademark runs in behind. Moving into the penalty box Barker cut across his marker and keeping his composure placed the ball into the the right hand corner of the net. A well worked goal and on the balance of play well deserved.
St Mirren however hit back and Ayr keeper Graham twice did well despite not having had much to do.
Firstly, a long diagonal ball to the back post area was punched clear by the Ayr keeper from an on running St Mirren forward. As the ball broke back to another St Mirren player Graham parried well from a strongly struck shot.
As they say, ‘the sign of a good keeper is when you can rely on him at key moments of the game’ and Ayr keeper Graham did that well today.
Ayr then replaced striker Kaylum Ferguson with Paul Smith who dropped into the hole playing just off striker Mitchell.
The game continued to ebb and flow with very few chances for either side. Ayr replaced captain Gabe Skeoch with Robert Frew for the closing minutes. However, there was to be one further twist as the game entered stoppage time.
St Mirren won a corner kick and with 19 outfield players all in the Ayr penalty area it looked unlikely a goal would be scored.
However. once again Ayr keeper Graham proved his worth to the team when the ball flew off an outstretched leg and the Ayr keeper showed quick reflexes to keep the ball out.
That brought proceedings to a close as the referee blew for full time and a very well deserved three points for the Honest Men.
Full Time : St Mirren 0 Ayr United 1
Head Coach John Crawford was delighted with his team’s performance and praised his players for their attitude, desire and improved game management. Crawford added, ‘the players were challenged today to produce an improved performance. They did that with good defending, solid performances in the midfield area and decent movement in the last third of the pitch. We played with increased intensity and a better tempo today resulting in a good all round team performance with every player playing his part’.
Crawford also had praise for coach Craig Dargo whose excellent work on the training ground is paying very good dividends on the pitch.
Ayr United : Graham, Angus, Bryce, Love, Oliphant, Griffiths, Laurie, Moffat, Barker, Skeoch, Ferguson.
Subs : Frew, Smith, Nohar, Wamuziri, Mitchell, Brown.