Arbroath battled back for a deserved point but could have gone on to win after Michael McKenna’s penalty cancelled out Stephen Kelly’s opener for Ayr United.
In atrocious conditions, both teams did their best to serve up an entertaining contest but the odds were always stacked against it being one to remember.
After a day of howling winds and driving rain, referee Colin Steven took a long look at the conditions before giving the go-ahead at 6pm. But a night in front of the fireside proved too big a lure for many and not surprisingly Somerset Park’s smallest crowd of the season – only 777, which included 30 hardy souls from Arbroath – were tempted to brave the elements.
Ayr player-boss Mark Kerr named himself in the starting line-up for the first time since replacing Ian McCall in the hot seat in October and he took only 16 minutes to show his craft with a perfectly weighted pass which sent Jordan Houston racing clear but the on-loan Rangers youngster shot straight at Derek Gaston.
Ayr pinned the visitors back and their pressure paid off after 22 minutes. Kelly flighted in a wind assisted corner from the left and the ball dipped in under Gaston’s bar as Aaron Muirhead tried to challenge.
Colin Hamilton fired narrowly past Ross Doohan’s right hand post as Arbroath attempted an immediate fightback.
The initiative was with the home team who had first use of the strong wind and Craig Moore twice went close before the interval. He fired over from a Daniel Harvie cross and then broke clear only for Gaston to divert his shot past the post.
Arbroath took only three minutes of the second period to equalise. Sam Roscoe brought down McKenna for a stonewall penalty and the striker picked himself to lash home from the spot.
McKenna went close to the winner when his deflected shot from a Bobby Linn cross clipped the bar. Then Linn and sub Steven Doris had shots well saved before Thomas O’Brien rattled the post.