Ladbrokes Championship



By Stewart McConnell

Pictures: David Sargent

IN the shadow of the Grangemouth oil refinery, Ayr stoked up their title ambitions with this hard-fought victory.

They again demonstrated a burning sensory to win as this success, their third in succession took them three points clear at the top of the table.

United went into this match with only one defeat in their last seven games, while Falkirk were winless in their previous four matches but this league has thrown up so many shock results anything is possible.

Ayr won a corner three minutes in and from it Craig Moore had his shot from 25 yards saved.

Liam Smith made a great run and won a corner through a deflection in seven minutes big it was cleared by the Bairns defence.

Smith aimed a pass at Andy Geggan in 13 minutes but home goalie David Mitchell raced out to bear the midfielder to the ball.

At the other end in 13 minutes, Deimantas Petravicius sent a cross into the box but the Ayr defence made a vital clearance.

Falkirk came close in 17 minutes when s free-kick from skipper Jordan McGhee 25 yards out glanced just high and wide.

United came close in 24 minutes when Michael Rose sent a header from 12 yards just over the bar.

Rose then shepherded the ball back to Ross Doohan under pressure from Zak Rudden in 33 minutes.

Falkirk had a good opening in 43 minutes but Petravicius shot wildly over the bar from 25 yards,

United won a free-kick 30 yards out and Mark Kerr played it to Smith, whose shot was deflected wide.

A strong cross-cum shot from 25 yards from Andrew Irving was well fielded by Doohan in 47 minutes and two minutes later Joe McGhee shot wide from a similar distance.

However the breakthrough came in 51 minutes when the ball broke to Craig Moore 18 yards out and although he appeared to slightly miscue out former Ayr goalie David Mitchell was found wanting as it skidded past him.

The Bairns had s good chance in 57 minutes but Petravicius ballooned the bsll over the bar from 12 yards.

Alan Forrest made a run to the touch line and had a shot cleared in 62 minutes and a minute late a shot from 20 yards by the same player was smothered by David Mitchell.

Substitute Declan McDaid shot just wide from 20 yards in 68 minutes as United kept pressing.

Lawrence Shankland saw his strong shot from 29 yards deflected wide two minutes later.

Danny Harvie sent a 25-yard free-kick just over the bar in 74 minutes.

Declan McDaid was effective when he came on and blasted just over the bar from 25 yards in 84 minutes.

Falkirk missed a sitter in 89 minutes when Marcus Haber sent a header from eight yards just high and wide as Ayr held on for a big win.