Improved Ayr United taking Kerr of business

Ross County's Josh Mullin, left, and Daniel Harvie of Ayr tussle near the touchline on Saturday. Picture: SNS
Ross County's Josh Mullin, left, and Daniel Harvie of Ayr tussle near the touchline on Saturday. Picture: SNS
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Mark Kerr says learning 
lessons in defeat during his early days as a manager helped 
Ayr United cause the shock of the William Hill Scottish Cup fourth round.

Stephen Bell’s goal saw Ayr upset Ross County in a 1-0 victory at Somerset Park. The midfielder was left unchallenged to nod Stephen Kelly’s corner into the net with 37 minutes of the tie gone.

Since being appointed in October, Kerr has lost six of his first 11 games in charge. But Kerr, whose team are third in the Ladbrokes Championship, says defeats against Dundee United, Inverness and Queen of the South helped teach his team how to beat the Staggies.

“Sometimes when you lose you learn more,” he explained.

“You don’t want to lose games but, for me, I look back at some of the previous games we had at the start.

“We have managed to learn from it and the team have managed to embed in ideas. Things are now going smoothly and we are progressing.”

Kerr, inset, was pleased his team managed to control the match by limiting Ross County to a few chances.

“We felt we controlled the game and gave out the balls in the right area and capitalised when we found space,” he said. “We played a nice combination of passes and got on to the second ball. We were picking up balls in the middle park that we usually don’t do.

“It breeds confidence we can play both ways.”

County created most of the best chances in the first half. On 20 minutes, Harry Paton sent a perfectly weighted ball for Lee Erwin who was onside and charged towards goal from 30 yards out. His low drive was well blocked by goalkeeper Ross Doohan.

Erwin came close a minute later when he managed to get a head on Blair Spittal’s cross on the edge of the six-yard box but could not guide the ball on target.

After going in a goal behind at the break, County
also started the second half brightly. Josh Mullin threatened after connecting with Spittal’s cross, while Billy Mckay nodded a good opportunity wide of the right post. Ayr held on and County 
have now won only two of their last 15 games in all 

Co-manager Stuart Kettlewell says his squad are a long way off the standard required. “We got what we deserved,” he said.

“We will not say that because we had much of the ball in the second half we deserved a draw.

“It is miles off what we expect in the two years that I have been in this job.

“We will give ourselves a major problem if we approach games in that manner again.”

Next up for County is Wednesday night’s visit of Hearts in the Premiership.