Dunfermline have enjoyed great success at Somerset Park in the past few seasons and the run of positive results continued today in what was a highly professional and dominant display. With only 1 defeat in the previous 16 trips to Ayr (and undefeated in the most recent 9 games there), the game was so tightly controlled by Allan Johnston's team that the record was in no danger of being broken at any stage of the game. The Pars line-up was unchanged from last week's win at Raith.
Ayr had the majority of possession in the opening 10 minutes without creating anything of note, failing to seriously trouble Pars keeper Sean Murdoch. Dunfermline then took a hold of the game with some excellent passing moves involving the midfield and attack, with Michael Moffat particularly impressive. The Moff may not be the goal threat that he was in his period as an Ayr player, but his overall game has improved with age and experience, and his link-up play is the equal of almost any forward in the division.
Dunfermline took the lead in 26th minute. Jason Talbot shot from outside the box and his effort was turned in by Nicky Clark for the striker's 8th goal of the season. It was a typical Clark goal, an instinctive piece of play that has characterised most of his other goals this season.
Seven minutes later the Pars doubled their lead with a goal of the season contender. Andy Geggan challenged for the ball in the Ayr penalty box and was forced to the ground by Scott McKenna. The ball dropped in Geggan's direction and he quickly positioned himself to volley a fantastic shot across Ayr keeper Greg Fleming and into the top left hand of the Ayr goal.
Both sides had other half chances before the half time whistle ended 45 minutes that delighted the travelling Pars support.
Ayr pressed early in the second half, as is so often the case when a home side are behind. Kevin Nisbet came closest with a header that Murdoch tipped over the bar in the 50th minute. This was to be closest that Ayr came to a goal due to good handling by Murdoch and some resolute defending by the Dunfermline back 4, with the central defensive pairing of Lee Ashcroft and Callum Fordyce once again excelling. It was Ashcroft who almost put the Pars further ahead when his 60th minute goal-bound shot was cleared off the line by Robbie Crawford.
Ayr then reverted to type by resorting to a series of fouls, the worst of which should have resulted in a red card for Nicky Devlin when he flew into Jason Talbot but was only yellow carded by weak referee Craig Thomson. Dunfermline brought on Gavin Reilly, Joe Cardle and Farid El Alagui and it was Reilly who should have added a third but his shot from 10 yards was blazed high over the bar.
This was a hugely satisfying performance and a further indication that the team are on the ascendancy.
Pars starting 11, with marks out of 10:
Photos by Pars Review.
Tomorrow: full match photo gallery.