United battled against the odds at Somerset Park to secure a point in a game they could have won despite being reduced to nine men.

After conceding early on, Michael Moffat notched two goals before Airdrieonians levelled the scores.

In the second half, referee, Andrew Dallas sent off Pope and Forrest with David Hutton saving a penalty.

With only nine men, Ayr fought valiantly and were unfortunate not to reign victorious after Moffat saw a chance go wide in the closing stages.

United were keen to get back to winning ways after last Saturday’s draw but their ambitions were hampered when Airdrieonians took the lead with four minutes on the clock.

Paddy Boyle gathered the ball 28 yards from goal before unleashing a thunderous blast which soared into the top corner beyond David Hutton.

Marko’s men didn’t let it affect them though and soon drew level.

After 12 minutes, Craig Malcolm passed to Moffat from the edge of the box allowing the striker to coolly slip the ball underneath Andrew Duncan.

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Five minutes later, Moffat doubled his goal tally after clever play from Michael Donald. The speedy winger darted down the left flank before squaring the ball to Moffat who was able to slide home.

Adam Hunter then looked as though he could have made it three but saw a 30 yard drive rifle over the crossbar.

Airdrie proved to be a physical side and after only 25 minutes, Martyn Campbell was forced to retire injured following a robust challenge.

Young Alan Forrest replaced him, operating on the left flank with Michael Donald dropping to left back.

Airdrieonians began to impose themselves on the game and were close to levelling through Willie McLaren who saw a 25 yard free kick saved by Hutton.

From the resultant corner, McLaren crossed into the box where Nathan Blackley was on hand to slam home a header.

The visiting side were then close to notching again when Lewis Coult found himself clean through on goal but Hutton was on hand to make an outstanding save.

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United’s number one then made another sublime stop before half time, touching a point blank header over the crossbar.

In the second half, referee Andrew Dallas sent off two Ayr players much to the anger of the home support.

Firstly, Gordon Pope was sent for an early bath after committing a foul inside the box. After the left back trudged off the park, Willie McLaren saw his spot kick saved by Hutton who dived to his left and made the block.

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Moments later, 16 year old Alan Forrest was given a red card for committing a foul in the centre of midfield.

After being reduced to nine men with only 55 minutes played, Roberts was forced to rethink his plans with Crawford replacing McGowan.

Shankland came on for Marenghi and had to go off the park to have an injury treated, meaning Ayr were temporarily down to eight men!

United then operated with a back three of Hunter, McLaughlin and Lithgow.

The decisions made against United didn’t seem to affect Roberts’ men who continued to pile forward and could have taken the lead when Michael Moffat saw a raking drive scrape by the far post.

Craig Malcolm also found himself clean through on goal but the on form striker contrived to skew his shot wide of the goal.

United played exceptionally well considering the circumstances and showed great strength of character.

As the game entered the closing stages, the match was on a knife edge with the match moving from end to end.

Airdrieonians were set to score their third after 89 minutes but David Hutton had other plans.

The goalkeeper was subject to a header and rebound but the on form stopper dealt with both attempts brilliantly.

As the final whistle blew the Somerset Park faithful rose to their feet and applauded the players following their herculean effort.

Ayr : Hutton, Hunter, Campbell (Forrest 26), Lithgow, Pope, McGowan (Robert Crawford 59), McLaughlin, Marenghi (Shankland 74), Donald, Moffat, Malcolm. Subs Not Used: Roberts, Wylie, Muir.

Sent Off : Pope (51), Forrest (55). Booked : Malcolm, Moffat, Hunter.

Goals : Moffat 12, 17.

Airdrieonians : Duncan, O’Neil, McCormack (Buchanan 46), O’Byrne, Patrick Boyle, Watt, Blockley, Sinclair, McLaren, Lister, Coult (Coogans 46), Buchanan (Hay 59). Subs Not Used: Grier, Bain.

Booked : Lister, O’Byrne.

Goals : Patrick Boyle 4, Blockley 37.

Att : 1,339

Ref : Andrew Dallas

By Michael Lamont

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