East Fife 1-4 Ayr United

Chris Duggan fired East Fife ahead, but the joy wasn't to last. Picture by George McLuskie.
Chris Duggan fired East Fife ahead, but the joy wasn't to last. Picture by George McLuskie.

East Fife lost out to Ayr United by three goals just like they had done earlier in the season.

But there were much more positives the side could take from this defeat than they could the 3-0 reversal at Somerset Park.

Again, though, there were also some really frustrating aspects in the 90 minutes, with East Fife shipping a couple of goals from set-pieces to let the league leaders back into the game.

It was an opportunity missed to pick up the three points and give the side a needed boost heading into the festive period.

Ayr arrived in Methil having won their previous seven league games and eight in all competitions.

Ian McCall's side look to be romping to an immediate return to the Championship but were completely dominated in the opening half.

East Fife started the game at a terrific pace they never dropped it until John McKendrick blew for the break.

Kevin Smith cracked the underside of the bar early on and that set the tone for the remainder of the half.

But while on top they needed to score, and they duly did.

Aaron Dunsmore again turned creator for Chris Duggan, slicing open the Ayr defence with a fine through ball which Fife forward Duggan made the most of by firing beyond Jordan Hart.

It was a deserved opener and had the leaders rattled.

But then came the break and with it a shift in how the game was to play out.

McCall introduced Craig Moore and Brian Gilmour at half time and the changes added more urgency to Ayr's play.

They leveled after a period of pressure when Mike Rose headed home an Alan Forrest corner.

It was 2-1 when Rose again finished off another corner for the visitors.

Moore made it 3-1 with a neat strike before the impressive Lawrence Shankland scored the goal of the game from 25 yards.

Boss Darren Young said: "Overall, we got beat 4-1 but played some of our best football.

“That first 45 minutes we were saying ‘God, this is against the league leaders here’.

“But they showed why they are league leaders.

“They got ruthless and took their chances.

“There were a lot of positives even though we got beat 4-1.

“It’s still hard to put your finger on it though.

“We worked on stuff and it worked well in the first half then they change their shape.

“The manner of the goals was sickening.”