A goal from former Scotland internationalist Kevin Kyle handed Forfar Athletic only their second defeat in 10 games as Ayr United won 1-0 on Saturday at Station Park.
With injury forcing out Mark Baxter and Omar Kader, Neil McCabe and last week’s goalscorer Paul McManus dropped to the bench while Dale Hilson and Gary Fusco returned from knocks and Martyn Fotheringham and Jamie McCluskey were promoted from the bench to the starting XI.
With a very vocal support behind them, Ayr made the stronger start, Kevin Kyle going close twice in the opening five minutes with a shot being deflected past the post and a header going wide of the mark.
Michael Moffat blasted over and Anthony Marenghi went inches away from the crossbar with a free kick before the quarter hour mark, while in between Chris Templeman headed straight at the keeper.
The Loons had a great chance in the 18th minute as Dale Hilson was sent clear, he tried to cut the ball across the box for Gavin Malin but keeper David Hutton managed to gather the ball before Malin could get a toe on it.
Four minutes later Hilson was involved again, muscling past Gordon Pope and firing a shot away, but his effort was saved by the foot of Hutton and Templeman’s rebound attempt was cleared.
Just after the 20 minute mark, Hilson had another chance after a Fotheringham cross but his header was too weak and was cleared by a defender.
On 30 minutes Ayr had a big penalty shout when Michael Moffat went down after a challenge by a Forfar player, Moffat having to recieve treatment after the ref ruled it wasn’t a foul.
Ayr threatened yet again with Kyle knocking the ball wide after Douglas palmed a McAusland cross into his path and Moffat blasted at Douglas two minutes later.
Malin headed past the post from a Hilson cross before Jamie McCluskey pinged in a great cross that Hutton had to do well to punch away on the stroke of half time.
Half Time: Forfar Athletic 0, Ayr United 0
The Loons pushed for an opener early in the second half with Dale Hilson volleying over and an effort from Jamie McCluskey swirling wide.
Ayr then started to press Forfar and had two chances in a minute with Kevin Kyle poorly nodding into the keeper’s arms before Michael Donald brilliantly beat two defenders before drawing a good save from Douglas from close range.
A long ball found Chris Templeman in the 55th minute and his knock on was met by Dale Hilson but his attempts to turn the Ayr defence were blocked well.
In the 61st minute the Honest Men took the lead, McAusland’s run ending in him forcing Douglas into another good save, but he could only palm the ball into Kevin Kyle who took great delight in nodding the ball into an empty net.
After the goal, Ayr sat back and defended whilst Forfar struggled to create anything threatening despite getting forward more often.
After 73 minutes Donald almost added a second but his effort from outside the box was held well by the keeper.
The next proper effort never came until the last five minutes of the game, a long ball from Gary Fusco went to Ross Campbell and his first touch allowed him to lob the keeper but it went too high and onto the roof of the net.
Despite the Loons pressing hard in the final minutes they couldn’t find that equalising goal.
Forfar Athletic: Rab Douglas, Gary Fusco, Iain Campbell (Neil McCabe 77), Darren Dods, Stuart Malcolm, Martyn Fotheringham (Paul McManus 77), Jamie McCluskey (Ross Campbell 77), James Dale, Chris Templeman, Gavin Malin, Dale Hilson. Subs not used: Marvin Andrews, Omar Kader, Kerr Hay, Darren Hill (gk)
Ayr United: David Hutton, Kyle McAusland, Gordon Pope, Scott McLaughlin, Alan Lithgow, Brian Gilmour, Anthony Marenghi, Craig Malcolm, Michael Moffat (Mark Shankland 89), Kevin Kyle, Michael Donald. Subs not used: Alan Forrest, Michael McGowan, Michael Wardrope, Robbie Crawford, Jackson Longridge, Willie Muir (gk).