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United returned home empty-handed following a 2-1 defeat to Arbroath at Gayfield on Saturday. A James Craigen double in the first half gave the hosts the advantage and although Jack Baird ignited hopes for a late comeback in the dying minutes, it was not enough for the Honest Men to take anything from the game.

Ayr started the match with two changes to the starting XI as Cammy Smith returned from suspension and replaced Michael Miller while Paddy Reading came in for Jordan Houston.

Arbroath were attacking from the start and managed to break into the Ayr box a couple of times with particularly Colin Hamilton and Michael McKenna looking threatening, but the black and white defence marshalled the attempts well.

On 16 mins, Luke McCowan did just enough to disrupt Colin Hamilton's run forward to stop the left-back getting on the end of a cross from the right which bounced to the back post and Viljami Sinisalo collected.

Ayr's first corner saw attempts from Michael Moffat and Cammy Smith in short succession, the first being blocked while Smith dragged his effort wide. Moments after, Dale Hilson came close directly from the corner flag, but Sinisalo tipped the ball wide over the bar.

Sinisalo was called into action again on 32 mins as Hilson beat challenges from Andy Murdoch and Aaron Muirhead, but with Jack Baird in his way, it was an easy save for the keeper.

Arbroath finally broke the deadlock on 36 mins as Sinisalo's goal kick got caught in the wind and fell to McKenna who burst down the right. His floating cross into the box was met by James Craigen for a header from close range that came off the post and rolled over the line.

Three minutes later it was 2-0. Hilson delivered a low cross from the left and as the Ayr defence failed to clear, Craigen was on hand to turn it into the net.

United locked shell-shocked while the Red Lichties came close again through Luke Donnelly on 42 mins, but his effort was just wide and it remained a two gaol advantage for Arbroath at the break.

With the wind in their backs, Ayr looked stronger as the second half got underway and most play took place in the hosts' half.

Good interplay between Smith and Bruce Anderson on 51 mins set Moffat up for an effort on goal but it clattered off the post. McCowan picked the ball up and went for an attempt himself but his shot too hit the woodwork.

Arbroath soon adapted and the match turned into an emphatic end-to-end affair.

On 68 mins, Murdoch played a low shot forward that found McCowan on the right. The winger cut in and got a shot away, but Liechties keeper Derek Gaston went down to collect easily.

Scott Stewart almost killed the game early on 86 mins, but his shot from the centre of the box was blocked by Sinisalo. On the other side of the pitch, Gaston denied substitute Dario Zanatta from the left.

United pulled one back on 88 mins when Baird got on the end of a Joe Chalmers corner for a header that bounced off the bar and into the net.

Hopes were reignited for Ayr, but the Honest Men couldn't find an equaliser and the final whistle sealed a 2-1 defeat.

United dropped to fifth in the Championship table, still on equal points with Raith Rovers who hold the better goal difference. Greenock Morton have a one point advantage in third while Inverness sit one adrift in sixth.

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201219 Arbroath Post Match

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