Some games are hard on the eyes and this was one that might have left some folks contemplating a visit to the optician. Ayr secured victory in unadorned fashion with a solitary goal early in the second half from Craig Moore – but as the saying goes, sometimes you’ve just got to win ugly to lift trophies.
It was a somewhat harsh outcome for Falkirk who approached this game with a plan, system and most importantly an attitude to make life as difficult as possible for the league leaders and just about executed it perfectly. Needs must for Ray McKinnon and his side, with the Bairns rooted at the opposite end of the table from their opponents, and having succeeded in stifling promotion-chasing Ross County in midweek it was hardly surprising that they opted for more of the same.
The downside of being defensively obstinate is that it may not make for the greatest spectacle. The opening 45 minutes were truly worthy of the expression bereft of incident. In fairness Ayr’s normally inventive midfield and prolific front line seemed at a loss at how navigate their way round the home side’s well drilled and tenacious rearguard.
It was hard to see how the course of the game would change at the interval given the lack of creativity on view. However, the stalemate was broken only six minutes after the restart with a goal that really did seem to arrive out of nowhere. Moore got a yard of space at the edge of the Falkirk box and he flipped up the ball invitingly before firing a low volley into the bottom corner.
Suddenly the game acquired some detectable signs of life and to their credit the hosts gave it a decent go in terms of trying to retrieve the deficit. A lot of tempting crosses were played into the Ayr box which the visitors didn’t look at all comfortable in dealing with. Ultimately though the lack of a clinical finisher in Falkirk’s ranks cost them dear with no one able to get a decisive touch on any of them.
Ayr sought to capitalise by hitting on the break but it was a day when their fluency and decision-making was not at its best and they scorned several opportunities to put the game to rest. They won’t be worrying about that as they enjoy the view at the top of the table.
“They were very difficult to break down and they showed a spirit in the second half,” acknowledged Ayr manager Ian McCall. “The type of day it was with the rain and wind meant we couldn’t play the way we want to play – but we got the goal.”