Partick Thistle 2 - Ayr United 3: Ayr bounce back to beat Thistle in thriller

Ayr's Stephen Kelly celebrates scoring the winning goal against Partick Thistle.  Photograph: Angus Macgregor/SNS Group.
Ayr's Stephen Kelly celebrates scoring the winning goal against Partick Thistle. Photograph: Angus Macgregor/SNS Group.
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Kris Doolan returned to haunt his former club as Ayr United fought back to win a crazy game and send nine-man Partick Thistle to the bottom of the Championship.

Thistle twice led before having both their goal-scorers sent off as they again shot themselves in the foot.

Gary Caldwell, the home side’s manager, remained positive in defeat. “I’m really proud of the players,” he said. “They gave everything in difficult circumstances – we looked comfortable with ten men.

“Then with nine men we dug in. I think 11 v 11 we win the game so it’s a sore one to take but we take it and move on.”

Caldwell handed a debut to Dario Zanatta and it paid dividends when the recent signing from Hearts ghosted into the box and was upended by substitute Mark Kerr. Stuart Bannigan slotted the penalty past Ross Doohan to put Partick deservedly ahead.

However, Ayr hit back ten minutes later when Jags debutant Ben Hall badly misjudged a header back to goalkeeper Jamie Sneddon under pressure from Alan Forrest and Luke McCowan intercepted before sending a glorious chip into the net.

Thistle continued to dominate possession and restored their lead when the impressive Zanatta weaved past four defenders before the ball broke for Shea Gordon to stab home via a deflection. It was a crazy 60 seconds for Gordon, who was harshly shown a straight red for a studs-up tackle on McCowan immediately after scoring.

Thistle, though, could have no complaints as they were reduced to nine men when Bannigan was shown a straight red on 65 minutes for a knee-high challenge on Stephen Kelly. That left the home side with an uphill battle and Doolan perhaps predictably played a part in his old team’s downfall. A Firhill legend after scoring 121 goals during a 10-year spell that ended unceremoniously in the summer, Doolan was on hand to fire in the equaliser after Steven Bell’s 25-yarder rebounded to him off a post, Thistle’s appeals for offside falling on deaf ears.

Ayr took further advantage of their extra men to claim all three points when Rangers loanee Stephen Kelly curled a delightful effort past Sneddon into the top corner from 25 yards.

Ayr manager Ian McCall said: “We were much better than I thought we were going to be – the loans are working well. We are very pleased with how we are doing. I don’t think anybody expected it but the target is to be in touch with Dundee United when they come to our place.”