Ayr United: pretenders or contenders

Starting on Saturday Ayr United will play three difficult games that may prove if they can stay on pace with Dunfermline Athletic atop of League One.

It begins on the 12th of December at home to the league-leading Fifers. The Pars have lost once away from home (in Peterhead) but are unbeaten in 10 league outings, scoring 22 and conceding just three. As a side, it was just over a week ago, Athletic went to Somerset Park and progressed into the fourth round by one goal to nil.

Nicky Devlin will once again miss the visit of Allan Johnston’s side and will likely be out until the fixture at Balmoor. He will be a big loss although the one game suspension of Jamie Adams will be harder to overcome. The former Kilmarnock midfielder is the best battling midfielder in the division, and may not even be with The Honest Men the next time these sides meet with his contract running out in January.

Momentum will be with the Fifers as Ian McCall’s team have not played since the cup defeat. If they are beaten then it would see the part-timers three points adrift with an inferior goal difference.

They then follow that top of the table clash with a journey to Balmoor on the following Saturday. Where Peterhead have only lost once this season but are the draw specialists – having tied four of eight in the Highlands. Jim McInally’s men have already taken a point at Somerset this season.

On Tuesday, the 29th they will make up their game in hand away at Central Park. A difficult place to go, as only Stranraer have won – thanks to a 90th-minute penalty kick. The pitch is not conducive to the style that suits the squad and play. With that in mind, a draw is certainly a possibility.

Now this is all conjecture and Ayr could win all the games. However, they tend to toil against weaker sides on the road. They drew against Brechin and Forfar but were also dismantled at Cliftonhill. In contrast, Dunfermline won twice against the former and drew against the latter.

Forfar and City have poorer home records than the Blue Toon and the Blue Brazil. There is added credence as Athletic took one point from visits to Cowdenbeath and Peterhead.

The Pars would need to beat Stenhousemuir at East End Park on the 19th, a team that they overrun by five goals to nil at Ochilview in their first matchup. Then in Forfar on Boxing Day, where they have won 8-0 already this campaign.

At the end of 2015, Dunfermline may be sitting with 43 points. While Ayr is sat comfortably in second with 39 – if they were to beat a struggling Brechin City outfit. However, if McCall gets his wish and wins out December then he will be at least six points ahead – albeit with an inferior goal difference.


You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

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