A DOUBLE from Greg Stewart kept Cowdenbeath’s survival hopes firmly alive and left Ayr United with an uphill battle to reach the play-off final.
Scorers: Ayr United - Pope (79); Cowdenbeath - Greg Stewart (15,37)
Cowdenbeath dominated the opening exchanges and deservedly opened up a two-goal lead. However, Gordon Pope’s late strike has at least given Ayr some hope going into the return leg at Central Park on Saturday.
The visitors dominated possession early on and 15 minutes of good play from Cowdenbeath ended with Lewis Milne playing the ball across the face of goal for Stewart to fire home.
Alan Lithgow then failed to control a long ball which allowed Kane Hemmings a shot on goal but he hit it straight at the keeper.
Cowdenbeath continued to pressure Ayr and ten minutes before the break Stewart doubled the lead when he received the ball outside the box and curled a fantastic effort into the top corner.
Pope had the home fans out of their seats with a 30 yard drive on the stroke of half-time but it flew just wide of the top corner.
Rory McKeown nearly added a third for Cowdenbeath ten minutes after the break when he smashed a shot against the crossbar.
But the home side pulled a goal back ten minutes from full-time when a corner fell to Pope who took a touch before stroking the ball into the far corner.
Ayr Utd: Hutton, Hunter, McAusland, Lithgow, Pope, Forrest (Shankland 71), Gilmour, McLaughlin, Marenghi (Kyle 60), Moffat, Malcolm. Subs Not Used: Newman, McGowan, Longridge, Robert Crawford, Wardrobe.
Cowdenbeath: Flynn, McKeown, Armstrong (Kane 46), Wedderburn, O’Brien, Brett, Milne, Robertson, Brownlie, Greg Stewart, Hemmings. Subs Not Used: Adamson,Stevenson, Morton, Gold, Usai, Miller.