The Honest Men were undone by another late goal against St Mirren as they were held to a 1-1 draw at the Paisley 2021 stadium. Cairney put United ahead before Sutton levelled in a game which also included a missed penalty and a sending off.
Ayr had the first chance of the game through Forrest on 10 mins. United’s striker was picked out at the back post and he had time to compose himself before striking towards goal however it was blocked on the line by Gallagher from close range.
Saints responded to this a minute later and Mackenzie saw his header from a Mallan corner nodded off the line by Docherty who did well to get up to the ball which looked goal bound.
On 19 mins Mallan had a strike from the edge of the area which was deflected just wide of Fleming’s right hand post.
Ayr’s best chance of the half came on 32 mins. Crawford swung the ball in from the right and it was met by Balatoni who couldn’t get enough on the ball which resulted in his flick header landing to McKenna at the back post but the United defender could only smash his shot off the bar from close range.
35 mins gone and it was the turn of Webster to try his luck and his flick on from another Mallan corner scraped just wide of the far post.
On 38 mins Devlin had a chance at the back post and his header was straight at Gallagher. From that chance Saints broke immediately through Shankland and as the striker burst forward he dragged his shot just wide as he closed in on goal.
Ayr’s last chance of the half came through Docherty on 44 mins. The United midfielder found himself with space on the edge of the box and his volley sailed over the bar when it looked like he could have did better.
Ayr continued to threaten the home side and after the break Harkins had a glorious opportunity on 56 mins. The ball fell to Harkins inside the area and with only Gallagher to beat he fired his effort straight at the goalkeeper.
It looked as if Ayr would be made to pay for their missed chances as on 58 mins St Mirren won a penalty after Cairney pulled down Naismith in the box. Shankland stepped up but could only drag his penalty wide of the left hand post – with Fleming also correctly guessing which way to dive.
Mallan then weaved his way inside the box on 61 mins but United’s captain Devlin was there to block the shot from close range.
Ayr took full advantage of the missed chances from the home side and opened the scoring through Cairney after 63mins. Balatoni stepped out of defence with the ball and passed the ball forward, the ball was left by Adams which allowed Cairney to slip through into the box and coolly slot the ball underneath Gallagher to give Ayr the lead. 0-1.
St Mirren began to pile on the pressure and their first effort after the Ayr goal came through Mallan on 75 mins as his strike from 25 yards deflected awkwardly and forced Fleming into a good stop at the bottom right corner.
Just as Ayr were looking to shut up shop and hold on for the win they were handed a set back when Adams was sent off on 76 mins for a tackle from behind, hauling down McAllister as he was breaking away midway in the Ayr half.
It didn’t take long for St Mirren to take advantage of this and they quickly found themselves level through Sutton after 80 mins. Clarkson picked up the ball on the right and whipped in a great ball for Sutton who muscled off McKenna to head home and pull his side level. 1-1.
It almost got from bad to worse for Ayr as Hardie found himself in space immediately after the restart and fizzed a shot which was tipped onto the bar by Fleming to keep Ayr level.
The best chance of the latter stages undoubtedly fell to Ayr on 83 mins when a Crawford shot inside the box fell to Nisbet who was totally unmarked and from 8 yards out dragged his shot just wide of the far post.
Mallan had a couple of long range efforts which never tested Fleming in the final few minutes as the game fizzled out and both teams had to settle for a draw.
Ayr now welcome Dumbarton at Somerset next Saturday in what is a huge game on Christmas Eve in the battle at the bottom.
Gallagher, Naismith, Irvine, Mackenzie, Quinn, Mallan, Shankland, McAllister, Webster, Morgan, Magennis. Substitutes Langfield (GK), Sutton, Clarkson, Gallagher, McLear, Hardie, Baird.
Fleming, Devlin, Crawford, Forrest, Harkins, Cairney, Adams, Meggatt, Balatoni, Docherty, McKenna. Substitutes Hart (GK), McGuffie, Boyle, Gilmour, Rose, O’Connell, Nisbet.
Referee: Greg Aitken
Match Report: AUmedia=