This was another important fixture for United as they attempted to get back to winning ways after a disappointing result away to Dunfermline at the weekend.
Ian McCall made one change to the side that started against the Pars replacing Craig Beattie with Peter Murphy as the experienced defender returned to the heart of the Ayr defence.
A win for United would have seen them leapfrog Stenhousemuir into 8th place and out of the relegation zone but Airdrie were also in need of points to give themselves any realistic chance of making the play offs.
In a subdued opening period we had to wait until the 13th minute before we had a serious shot on target, with Ayr’s Adam Blakeman attempting an ambitious effort from 35 yards, but his powerful drive was straight at Airdrie keeper Andy McNeil who saved comfortably.
Unfortunately for Blakeman he was to feature soon after but for all the wrong reasons just 21 mins into the game. He chased down a loose ball in midfield that broke in the direction of Airdrie’s Jamie Bain. While attempting a sliding challenge, he appeared to be over stretching, as he went into the tackle catching the Airdrie player in the process.
As the Airdrie defender crashed to the surface referee Colin Steven had no hesitation in showing the midfielder a straight red card, dismissing him from the field of play, leaving Ayr with a mountain to climb.
The visitors then tried to capitalize on their extra man advantage and although they had the bulk of possession they struggled to create any meaningful openings against a stubborn Ayr defence. Ayr on the other hand looked to set pieces and the occasional counter attack to create opportunities but they also failed to create any significant chances.
Right on half-time Airdrie’s Jordan Morton hit a screamer from 25 yards but David Hutton in the Ayr goal was happy to watch it sail over his bar, with this the last significant piece of action before the interval.
Airdrie playing towards the Railway End started the second half on the front foot and made an early break through in 52 minutes. Mikey Donald was dispossessed on the half way which allowed the Diamonds to break at pace down the right hand side. A low cross eventually found it’s way to Marc Fitzpatrick who swept home from close range to give Airdrie the lead.
Craig Beattie replaced a tired looking David Robertson in 59 mins as Ayr began to show signs of getting back in to the game as his robust style gave Airdrie something to think about. Beattie won a free kick soon after coming on with John Paul McGovern forcing Airdrie keeper McNeill into a good save from the resultant free kick with a shot from around 20 yards.
Craig Beattie then followed up McGovern’s free kick by going close himself with a turn and left foot shot from the edge of the box that hit the side netting.
Both teams made changes with 20 mins to go as tired legs saw the game opening up. Nicky Devlin sent in a teasing low pass across goal that almost saw Beattie equalise. However his close range shot from an acute angle was well saved by Andy McNeil in the Airdrie goal.
Young Ryan Nisbet was sent on to replace the tiring Jordan Preston with Ayr in the ascendancy as they went in search of an equaliser. Airdrie then attempted to prevent United from building momentum by replacing Prunty with Boyle as they looked to run the clock down.
Mikey Donald tried to make up for his earlier error with a 20 yard volley that stung the hand of the Airdrie keeper who managed to tip his shot over the bar right on the final whistle.
However Ayr’s luck was out on the night and Airdrieonians managed to hold on to their slender lead, leaving United with the prospect of a relegation six pointer at Somerset on Saturday against fellow relegation candidates Stenhousemuir.
Attendance – 835
Hutton; Devlin; Blakeman; Murphy; McKenna; McGovern; Murray; Crawford; Preston; Robertson; Donald
Newman; Gilmour; Donnelly; Nisbet; Neil; McCracken; Beattie
McNeil; Bain; Boyle; Gilfillan; Gasparotto; Lindsay; Docherty; Fitzpatrick; Morton’; Fraser; Prunty
Ferguson; Boyle; Watt; Blockley; Gray; O’Neil; Richford
Report by AUMedia