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United missed the chance to move back into third in the Championship table with a 1-2 defeat to Queen of the South on Saturday. Callum Semple headed Queens ahead from a corner early on before Stephen Dobbie converted a penalty in the second half to double the Doonhamers' advantage. Aaron Muirhead clawed one back through a penalty, but it wasn't enough to stop the visitors at Somerset Park.

Ayr created a good chance straight away with not even a min gone when Steven Bell lifted the ball over the Queens defence to send Michael Moffat through. The striker was one-on-one with keeper Robbie McCrorie and set for a shot on target, but McCrorie did well to block his effort.

Queen of the South recovered quickly and turned what could have been a nightmare beginning for them into a dream start when they opened the scoring only moments later. With 4 mins on the clock, Faissal El Bakhtaoui lifted in a high corner from the right and Callum Semple rose to head the ball goalwards from close range. The ball bounced off Ross Doohan's arm into the top right-hand corner and it was 0 - 1 to the Doonhamers.

Queens found comfort in the early goal and looked the more threatening side while Ayr, despite dominating possession, struggled to find a break-through.

The visitors created the next significant chance on 21 mins when El Bakhtaoui played a long ball through the middle to Connor Murray who whipped a shot from 15 yards, but Doohan superbly palmed his effort away.

United started to get more into the game and came close to an equaliser through Luke McCowan on 31 mins, his curling shot from 18 yards looking goal-bound but was kept out of the net by a diving header from Lee Kilday on the line.

Four bookings in just two mins provided an eventful end to the first half with McCowan being shown a yellow card first for a kicking the ball at El Bakhtaoui who went into the referee's book straight after for pushing McCowan as a reaction. Dan Pybus was next to be booked for a high challenge before Andy Geggan received the final yellow card of the opening 45 mins for fouling El Bakhtaoui after the half time whistle.

The second half began quietly with the teams cancelling each other out in midfield and neither side creating any clear-cut chances.

On 58 mins, Connor Murray lifted a long ball forward into the path of Stephen Dobbie who broke into the box where he was brought down by Aaron Muirhead. Referee David Lowe awarded a penalty to the visitors and Dobbie stepped up to take it. The Queens captain sent Doohan the wrong way from the spot and doubled his side's lead.

United almost pulled one back 1 min later when McCowan cut through the defence but was denied from 15 yards by a terrific save from McCrorie. Craig Moore picked up the rebound but Kilday came in to block and Queens eventually cleared their box.

Headers from Moffat and Geggan went closely past the net before El Bakhtaoui almost added another one to Queens' tally on 69 mins with a stinging shot from 25 yards which clattered off the bar.

Ayr came close again, twice in quick succession. First a Daniel Harvie shot from the left wing was tipped over the bar by McCrorie, then, on 74 mins, McCowan forced the keeper to another brilliant save.

With 77 mins on the clock, United finally got one back. As a corner came in, Steven Bell was brought down in the box by Abdul Osman and a penalty was awarded to United. Aaron Muirhead made no mistake from the spot firing the ball high into the net.

Queens were defending deep and made attacking difficult for Ayr, but the home side almost found a late equaliser in the dying mins of the game. A high ball into the box from Jordan Houston was met by Muirhead at the left post. He knocked down a header which looked like it would cross the line, but Kevin Holt managed to clear the ball with millimetres to spare. It wasn’t to be for United and the score remained at 1 – 2 as the final whistle blew.

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SPFL Championship: Ayr United v Queen of the South
Queen of the South Post Match

All Images are © David Sargent and Ayr United FC and may not be used without permission