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United ended a run of three consecutive Championship defeats with a 1-1 draw against Arbroath on Tuesday. Stephen Kelly scored straight from a corner in the first half to give the Honest Men the lead, but Michael McKenna equalised through a penalty shortly after the break to hold the hosts at Somerset Park.
It was a steady start to the game with both teams trying to get to terms with the difficult conditions at a wet and windy Somerset Park. Ayr had the strong wind at their back and most of the play took place in the Arbroath half, but United struggled to convert the advantage into clear-cut chances.
On 22 mins, Ayr finally opened the scoring. Stephen Kelly delivered a corner from the left and, assisted by the wind, the ball floated straight into the net to give the hosts the lead.
United almost doubled their advantage close to the end of the first half on 42 mins. Jordan Houston sent a cross through to Craig Moore who fired a shot at the goal from just inside the penalty area that looked like it would find the back of the net, but Arbroath keeper Derek Gaston got a hand on it and the ball hit the side netting at the bottom left-hand corner.
Arbroath had the perfect start to the second half with a controversial penalty coming their way on 47 mins. Sam Roscoe attempted a clearance in the box and as Michael McKenna came in late to take the ball off him, the players collided. Referee Colin Steven adjudged the incident a foul on the Arbroath midfielder and pointed to the spot. McKenna recovered to take it and slotted the ball past Doohan to level the game with 48 mins on the clock.
Now with the wind at their back and exhilarated from the equaliser, the Red Lichties were pressing for another goal and caused Ayr troubles every time they broke forward.
On 52 mins, Bobby Linn took a free kick 35 yards out which was initially blocked and then punched away by Doohan under pressure, but the rebound fell to Colin Hamilton whose effort was cleared off the line by Roscoe.
The momentum was on Arbroath's side and the visitors had good chances again with McKenna hitting the crossbar from just inside the box on 57 mins and Doohan denying Luke Donnelly's high, curling effort from the left wing on 80 mins.
Ayr struggled to break forward and were held in their own half by the visitors, but the back line which, in a new formation for this game, featured the trio of Sam Roscoe, Steven Bell and Aaron Muirhead, dealt well with the attacks coming at them and kept the score at 1-1.
Arbroath came close to a late winner twice in the dying minutes of the game. On 90 mins, Donnelly flicked the ball on to Steven Doris inside the penalty area whose stinging effort looked goal-bound but was kept out of the net by a stunning save from Doohan. Only seconds later, Thomas O'Brien fired a shot at goal from distance, but hit the crossbar at the top right-hand corner and the final whistle blew to seal the one-all-draw.
United remain fourth in the table, now on equal points with Dunfermline in third and three ahead of Arbroath.