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10-men United left Cappielow empty-handed after a late comeback from Greenock Morton gave the hosts a 3-2 win on Saturday. Ayr took the lead through an own goal in the first half before Cammy Smith put his team two up. The Honest Men looked in control, but Morton snatched the full three points with three goals in the last seven minutes.
Manager Mark Kerr made just one change to last week's team by bringing Luke McCowan, who returned from a one match suspension, into the starting 11 in place of Michael Miller.
Both teams were attacking in the opening stages and there was not much separating the two sides. Aidan Nesbitt and Josh McPake looked threatening for Morton down the right wing, consistently pushing towards the Ayr box but failing to make use of the position.
Lewis Strapp came close to an opener for the hosts on 13 mins. His accurate long-range effort called Viljami Sinisalo into action, but the Finnish keeper did well to tip the ball over the bar.
With 20 mins gone, United started to take the upper hand. Bruce Anderson hit the post from the edge of the box before Michael Moffat was denied by Ton keeper Aidan McAdams from a few yards out, but it now seemed a question of when rather than if Ayr would break the deadlock.
Cammy Smith had been lively upfront for the Honest Men throughout the game and his efforts were rewarded on 32 mins. Anderson beat a challenge on the left to send a low cross into the box for Smith. The forward controlled the ball to send a powerful shot goalwards that deflected off of Strapp and into the net.
Now a goal ahead, Ayr picked up more confidence and caught Morton out in all areas of the park while creating more good chances themselves. Smith and Anderson both put shots narrowly past the post while Moffat again had an effort blocked by McAdams and, despite dominating the play, the visitors could not extend their lead before half time.
Morton were on the front foot at the start of the second half and United's job did not get easier when they were reduced to 10 men in the 52nd min. A reckless tackle from Aaron Muirhead on McPake brought out a straight red and sent the defender back into the dressing room early.
With the numerical advantage on their side, the hosts continued to press further forward but could not hold up the strong spell. While both teams continued to deal with the adverse weather conditions, Ayr started to dictate the game again.
United doubled their advantage on 74 mins with a well worked goal. McCowan played a shot into the path of Smith who slotted a low drive passed the keeper to put his side two goals up.
Ayr were in full control and looked certain to take three points home until a late collapse and defensive coma brought the high-flying Honest Men back to the ground.
On 83 mins Ross MacIver played through Gary Oliver and despite a somewhat scrappy pass, the substitute had enough time to turn in the box before putting the ball into the bottom corner.
The comeback was complete for Morton two mins later. Sean McGinty played a long ball forward and a misplaced header from Patrick Reading fell directly to Cameron Blues who finished from a few yards out and equalised the game.
Strapp sealed the deal on 88 mins when he got on the end of a long-range shot from Brian McLean and sent a low header into the net. The hosts took the lead for the first time in the game in the dying minutes and the final whistle confirmed the 3-2 result.
United now sit fifth in the table with a five point deficit to the top. They have a chance to bounce back from the disappointment when they return home to Somerset Park next weekend to face Championship leaders Dunfermline.
All Images are © David Sargent, Alan Graham and Ayr United FC and may not be used without permission