By Ben McNicol
Ayr United started their Championship campaign with a victory as they beat Queen of the South 2-1.
Michael Miller’s first half double looked to have had Mark Kerr’s side in the driving seat, but Stephen Dobbie’s penalty gave the visitors something to chase, and having 10-men for the last half-hour, pushed the Honest Men right until the death.
The two sides played out a cagey opening 10 minutes, but two lapses in concentration by the Queen’s defence put them on the back-foot from an early stage.
Miller broke the deadlock on the 13th minute when he got on the end of Joe Chalmers’ corner and headed past a static Rohan Ferguson. That was before the midfielder was in on the act once again five minutes later, flicking home his second of the afternoon following a lay-off from a corner.
The home side tried to kill the game off and nearly did that after 25 minutes when Chalmers’ curling effort went just inches over the crossbar. Credit must be given to the Queen’s, who gained some momentum and were well on top for the remainder of the first half.
Their first chance of the afternoon arrived when Gregor Buchanan headed the ball onto centre-back partner Ayo Obileye, but the towering defender couldn’t sort his feet out quick enough and slipped at the vital moment when it looked destined to be 2-1.
A couple of minutes later, Dobbie came ever so close to reducing the deficit as he breezed beyond his marker, before his low driven effort across the face of goal was tipped around the post by Viljami Sinisalo.
The visitors continued to see most of the ball in the second half and there were loud claims for a penalty when Nortei Nortey’s cross seemed to hit the hand of Sam Roscoe, but referee Steven Maclean remained unmoved.
Queen’s had been knocking on the door for some time and deservedly pulled one back on 56th minute. Sinisalo originally made a fine save to tip Joe McKee’s free-kick over the bar, but from the resulting corner the visitors were awarded a spot-kick which was tucked away by stand-in manager Dobbie.
Just as everything were beginning to look to brighter for the visitors, things went sour quite quickly as left-back James Maxwell received his second yellow card for simulation after taking a tumble in the box.
The Honest Men nearly put the game beyond doubt when veteran midfielder made a lung-bursting run from Michael Moffat inside his own half and his powerful strike was well saved by Ferguson.
Ayr United were also reduced to 10 men in the dying embers as Luke McCowan received his second yellow card for hitting out at Buchanan, and one more unbelievable save from Sinisalo meant that the home side just about held onto all three points. Here are three things we learned.
Ayr Get Opening Day Victory
When Miller put the hosts 2-0 ahead, it looked like they would cruise to an opening day victory.
However, they just seemed to stop playing the impressive football that was on show in the opening 30 minutes. In the end, it was job done but they were pushed right until the end by 10-man Queen of The South.
Miller was the star man for the Honest Men this afternoon in the heart of the midfield.
The 25-year old was released by Celtic as a youngster and thought his career was over after suffering an ACL injury but has battled well to build up his career again from playing League Two and is now firing all cylinders again.
Positives to take for Queen of The South
Despite falling to defeat, there were plenty of positives to take for the visitors. They were the dominant for large spells of the game, but ultimately two errors in quick succession left them a mountain to climb.