In the beginning, there was applause. In the end, there were boos. In the middle, there were just groans of despair!
Ayr’s recent run of poor form have seem them drop into such a precarious position at the bottom end of the Scottish First Division that even the most fervent of supporter fail to see how the club and players can climb out it and away to safety.
Things weren’t helped by the visitation of newly crowned title winners Ross County to Somerset Park, as the Ayrshire side fight for their lives at the wrong end of what has proved to be an extremely tough and tightly packed league season.
Respect where respect was due though as prior to kickoff, the Ayr players lined the edge of the tunnel to clap their opponents onto the field, taking the plaudits they have deserved in their run to the title with five matches remaining.
The match started with an upside down feeling to it though as the home side were dominating their Highland counterparts for the early stages of the game but for all their pressure and goalmouth action, they failed to break the deadlock and perhaps shows why they are at the wrong end of the table fighting for survival instead of at the top fighting for promotion.
Ayr’s Michael McGowan was in tremendous form, sweeping in countless crosses from the left that constantly went unmet in the middle which Ayr were to rue as the game carried on.
Ross County thought they had opened the scoring on 24 minutes when a shot from Paul Lawson nestled nicely in the corner of the goal but the linesman on the right had noticed that the ball had been deflected goalward via an offside County attacker so was ruled out. From our viewpoint, had the ball went untouched, it was heading towards the goal anyway so may have counted without touch.
The offside goal seemed to spark the visitors into action and they started to push them into the match with more vigour as the teams headed towards the half time break, however the half ended goalless not that the large travelling support minded much as they celebrated their promotion by dancing the conga and pogo with scant regard for the action on the field.
The second half took merely moments for it to spark into life as Ross County found themselves on the end of a fortuitous gift from Ayr’s defence after Chris Smith appeared to deflect the ball from the grasp of keeper Kevin Cuthbert’s normally safe hands and into the path of an unmarked Michael Gardyne to fire low into an open net giving his side an early second half lead.
It was a calamitous start to the half for Ayr who know that every point counts as they try and stave off relegation.
16 minutes into the half, both sides decided it was time to bring the woodwork into play as firstly Ayr’s Malone drifted a cross over into the area only to see his effort bounce back from striking the face of the crossbar.
Secondly Counties Ian Vigurs fired through a tremendous bullet like strike that was only kept from bursting through the goalnet by the right hand post that must still be shaking in fear now in case of another thunderbolt from the striker.
No woodwork was required for Alan Trouten of Ayr in 64 minutes though as he guided his low shot home to equalize the scoring at 1-1. This scoreline wasn’t to remain this way long as Ross County added another only four minutes later after Paul Lawson swung in a superbly weighted cross for Colin McMenamin to accurately head home for a 2-1 lead.
Five minutes prior to the end Sammy Morrow added a third for the visiting team after receiving a square ball from Steven Craig to end Ayr’s diminishing hopes of something from this match and subsequently gave the new Championship winners another three points.
With only three points separating the bottom three with four games remaining, it looks like going to the wire for Ayr United.
Ross County have other problems on their mind, how quickly can their celebratory party begin?
Marc Roseblade is a contributor for 90 Soccer and Not Just Scottish Football. He works as PR for Ayr United Football Academy and Galveston Pirate Soccer Club. Marc’s main passions revolve around lower league, youth and women’s football. You can follow Marc on Twitter @myscottishfitba