Ladbrokes Championship



by Hugh Maxwell

JUBILANT Ayr McCall hailed his players as "heroic" as the temperature at the bottom of the Championship got even hotter.

The Honest Men earned a hard-fought three points at East End Park with a 1-0 victory courtesy of a goal from Ross Docherty early in the second half. The United manager also celebrated a clean sheet.

It was the home side who started the stronger in four minute had their first chance. A poor clearance at the edge of the box by Greg Fleming led to Joe Cardle having a shot towards an empty net but Conrad Balatoni was there to clear the ball off the line.

Two minutes later the Pars were threatening the Ayr goal again, this time through ex-Ayr man Michael Moffat. Ryan Williamson collected the ball on the right and his cross was met by Moffat whose header flashed across goal and rebounded back off the post. Ayr's first chance of the half came in 16 minutes. Rose picked up the ball midway through the Dunfermline half and played it to Docherty who turned on the edge of the area but dragged a shot wide of the goal. The final chance of the half fell to the home side when Kallum Higginbotham's ball from the right was met by Nick Clark in the box, however his header was well wide.

McCall would have been fairly happy with the first half as Ayr were looking solid and stopping any potential threats from the home side.

Dunfermline had the first chance of the second half through Moffat in 46 minutes. The striker picked up the ball inside the Ayr half before driving into the box and curling a shot which was superbly tipped over the bar by Fleming from close range. A minute later Ayr almost took the lead. A free-kick from 30 yards was whipped into the box by Gilmour and Farid El Alagui's reaction header was saved on the line by Murdoch from close range.

Two minutes later Ayr did go ahead. A corner-kick from the right was curled in by Brian Gilmour, headed by Ross Docherty and then passed between the legs of a defender and bobbled and crept over the line to give the Honest Men a crucial goal.

The hearty 174 Honest Men behind the goal were in jubilation as Docherty wheeled away in celebration. In 56 minutes a Rose free-kick by Rose from 25 yards was tipped over the bar by Pars’ keeper Sean Murdoch just as the ball appeared to be creeping under the bar. Alan Forrest then had a shot from a tight angle saved by Murdoch. Rose had been influential throughout the match and was causing Dunfermline a lot of problems in the middle. Dunfermline went all out for an equaliser. In 67 minutes, a Williamson cutback was met by the unmarked Cardle 12 yards out but he somehow managed to fire high and wide.

The hosts continued to press and in 76 minutes had yet another golden chance. Talbot's cross from the byline was met by Michael Paton but his header was disappointing, going straight into the arms of Fleming.

The final chance of the match fell to Hopkirk in 80 minutes. The substitute drove forward and into space before his drive from 25 yards out was clawed away by Fleming.

Three good points for the Honest Men although other results mean that the lower end of the league has tightened even further.

Star Man: 1 Michael Rose; 2 Alan Forrest; 3 Ross Docherty.