AYR UNITED O
By Stewart McConnell
SORRY Ayr United are teetering on the brink of relegation following a 4-0 home humbling against the Championship winners.
And if they do ultimately go down next week, what a dreadfully disappointing way it was to end the home campaign.
They lacked guile, fight and cutting edge, especially in the first half and seemed to glibly accept their fate. They improved in the second half but created few clearcut chances.
Yet remarkably they can still make the playoffs with a 5-0 victory at Raith Rovers on Saturday.
United went into this game knowing victory was probably needed to stand any chance of survival in the Championship. But they knew they faced a tough task against a strong Hibs side who had the division's top-scorer Jason Cummings with 17 goals.
In two minutes there was a huge scare when Daryll Meggatt fluffed a passback and the ball was intercepted by Cummings, whose shot from six yards luckily hit the side netting.
A cross from 25 yards by Martin Boyle was well handled by home goalie Greg Fleming in six minutes.
Ayr's first chance came in 11 minutes when Paul Cairney saw his effort from the edge of the box blocked. Then seconds later Grant Holt shot wide from a good position eight yards out at the other end.
Michael Rose blasted over the bar from 25 yards in 13 minutes and at the other end Cummings shot narrowly wide from the edge of the box in 22 minutes.
United had a great opportunity to break the deadlock two minutes later when a Cairney shot was tipped over the bar by Ross Laidlaw.
However in 27 minutes, the breakthrough was made when a John McGinn cross was headed home from six yards by Cummings.
Three minutes later, Hibs doubled their advantage when Grant Holt crossed to Martin Boyle who slammed home from eight yards
A harmless-looking Rose free-kick was easily saved by Laidlaw in 42 minutes.
Home boss Ian McCall made a change at half-time, replacing Rose with Craig McGuffie.
Conrad Balatoni shot just over the bar from 25 yards in 49 minutes.
Home skipper Nicky Devlin whipped in a cross aimed at Gary Harkins, but Laidlaw cleared the danger.
At the other end in 52 minutes Boyle sent a 22-yard shot skidding narrowly wide.
The hosts had a chance five minutes later when Craig Moore shot narrowly side from 20 yards.
At the other end in 58 minutes home goalie Greg Fleming made a great save to foil Chris Humphrey from inside the box.
Another nail was driven into Ayr's coffin by James Keatings in 66 minutes when he picked up a through ball and nutmegged Fleming from six yards.
Meggatt sent a header from an Alan Forrest corner-kick narrowly wide in 70 minutes.
Hibees scored again in 72 minutes when Cummings scored again after latching onto a Boyle pass.
Gary Harkins had a four-yard shot blocked on the line three minutes from time.
In 88 minutes McGuffie shot just over the bar from 25 yards as Hibs completed an easy win.