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United got their Championship campaign back on track with a 2-0 victory over Dundee at Somerset Park on Saturday. The Honest Men got all the work done in the first half with an early strike from Cammy Smith and Michael Moffat's 100th goal for the club. Dundee forced some great saves off keeper Viljami Sinisalo but could not find the back of the net.
Manager Mark Kerr made three changes to the team as Cammy Smith, Paddy Reading and Andy Murdoch returned to the starting 11 in place of Bruce Anderson, Michael Hewitt and Dario Zanatta.
Ayr showed urgency from kick off on had their efforts rewarded after only 3 mins when they capitalised on a vulnerable Dark Blues defence. Luke McCowan beat three men with great footwork in the box to create space and set up Smith. The winger controlled and picked his spot to fire low into the Dundee net.
United displayed a complete performance across the park, handling any efforts made by their opponents well while continuing to push forward themselves, and doubled their lead on 16 mins. Michael Moffat met a low cross in from Joe Chalmers at ten yards, turned neatly and slotted the ball past debutant keeper Adam Legzdins for his 100th goal in black and white.
Although Dundee had a higher possession rate and Paul McGowan and Christie Elliott did well in midfield, there was little effective link up play in the final third to provide for star striker Charlie Adam up front.
Ayr looked the more controlled and more dangerous side, breaking quickly and putting pressure on the Dee defence. McCowan looked lively down the middle and came close for United twice, putting one shot just wide off target and having his next attempt denied by McGhee who blocked and deflected the ball into Legzdins' hands.
The visitors started to find their rhythm in the late stages of the first half. Their best chance so far came on 30 mins when a cross to the back post from Jordan Marshall found Elliott, but Ayr keeper Viljami Sinisalo got in the way to block the header from close range.
Elliott had another attempt on 41 mins with a stinging shot from 14 yards that took a deflection off Sinisalo and fell to McGowan. The midfielder looked set to pull one back for the visitors from close range, but Jordan Houston did well to step in and bend the shot wide.
Ayr survived late threats from several Dundee corners as the final seconds of the first half ticked down and it remained 2-0 at the break.
At the re-start, Dundee had most of the ball and forced United to defend deeper. Most of the action was now taking place in the Ayr half and the visitors delivered dangerous corners that were narrowly but well defended.
On 52 mins, Marshall had a good run down the left and sent in a cross that set Elliott up for a free header in the box, but Sinisalo was in place to hold. The United keeper was called into action again with a fine stop at the post from a 30 yard effort from Adam on 62 mins before pulling off a sensational save to punch Shaun Byrne's shot from near the penalty spot away.
Persistent defending from Ayr took the sting out of the game and Dundee's challenge gradually fizzled out. The home side came close on 69 mins when Reading whipped in a dangerous cross from the left and Murdoch came sliding in to meet it, but the ball went just past the right post.
United thought they had added a third goal to their tally on 74 mins when McCowan turned in Smith's cross from the left, but assistant referee Colin Drummond raised his flag for offside.
The Honest Men saw the game out comfortably and the final whistle sealed a 2-0 home victory that takes them to fourth in the Championship table, one point ahead of Inverness and Greenock Morton respectively and one adrift of Hearts.
All Images are © David Sargent, Alan Graham and Ayr United FC and may not be used without permission