Ayr never read the script
The final game of the regular season would decide who went into the play-offs and who ended their league campaign now. It couldn't be tighter across the Championship on Winner Takes All Weekend.
David Carson was a surprise omission from the starting XI after his Cup suspension with Wallace Duffy retaining his place at right back. Billy Mckay was hoping to be a record breaker as he searched for his 101st goal for the Caley Jags. Only a win would be good enough for Inverness who could finish third or sixth, depending on results elsewhere. A win would end speculation and put Inverness in the play-offs. As it turned out we ended the season in sixth place and Ayr, Queen's Park and Partick Thistle will battle it out in the play-offs for a Premiership place alongside Champions Dundee.
Ayr United never read the script properly and deservedly took the plaudits in a 2-1 win at the Caledonian Stadium. A first half goal from Josh Mullin who looked close to being offside and Nathan Shaw in a crowded box with ten minutes left looked to be enough for the Honest Men. However Mark McKenzie ensured it would be Ayr's night with an 88th minute strike to shatter our hopes after such a strong finish to the season. Alas we fell at the last hurdle and now have a month to wait for a Scottish Cup Final appearance.
On a perfect evening for a game of football, Inverness failed to turn up for the first forty-five which Ayr totally dominated. Ayr had numerous efforts that went close from distance or Ridgers was able to fend away and they should have scored but for a timely if unintended block inside the six yard box. They did open the scoring though when Josh Mullin was given the benefit of a marginal decision to run through on Ridgers and tuck the ball away. No more than Ayr deserved to be honest as we were not at the races in the first half. With Carson and Samuels on in the second half, we were instantly more aggressive and had a number of efforts. Samuels had a half blocked shot cleared off the line by Musonda. He was also close to connecting with a low ball into the box. Carson did connect with one but volleyed it a couple of yards wide. Shaw slotted in after good pressure in a crowded box as we saw a glimmer of hope. Delaney headed over from ten yards following a corner as we pushed for a winner. Alas it came at the other end when O'Connor teed up Mark McKenzie to slot home from twelve yards as Ridgers moved to cover the other side of his goal line. Samuels had the ball in the net after Albinson pushed away a shot, but he was adjudged offside by a less than impressive standside linesman. Game over, too little too late and another season in the Championship incoming. Meh!
FULL TIME 1-2
Inverness paid the price for a jaded looking first half as Ayr went about their business with intent. The benching of Carson was not the most popular decision Dodds has ever made and he should carry the can for that. We could not muster anything of note in a shocker of a first half and Ayr could have been three up at the interval. Nathan Shaw offered us some hope but it was too little too late and we suffered a late sucker punch as Ayr celebrated. Looks like our heavy schedule eventually took it's toll or did we really look like a team that wanted to go up a league? Much better second half with Carson and Samuels getting stuck in, but half of the team in that first half could have sat in the stands and watched. Maybe they did as Ayr were all over us like a rash in the first forty-five.
RiG summed up pretty accurately: Ayr fully deserved that win last night. All over us from the get go and looked better all over the pitch for most of the game. We did get on top for a period in the second half but even then they still looked a threat on the break. Thought at the time the opener may have been offside but the videos above clearly show he was on.
Bizarre from Dodds to watch us shell long balls forward to Mckay (but most of the time it was no one) and think this was okay. So many players fell flat at a time when we needed them. Worst was Allardice who had an absolute nuke of a performance. Taking on Woods instead of Doran was laughable. Just more bizarre Dodds moments that sum up our season.
As I've said before results recently have been good but performances have been poor for a good number of weeks. We were able to shitfest our way past jobbers like Cove but when a decent team like Ayr comes along we're found wanting.
The league next season could be the most difficult in a while and it's hard not to feel we've missed our best chances to get out of here now.
Lee Bullen, Ayr United manager on BBC Sport: "I think both teams played a massive part in that game, [it was] an emotional rollercoaster. I do feel for [Inverness manager] Billy [Dodds], yes obviously we are absolutely delighted to get there. "But his team in that second half, I thought we controlled the first half, but his team in that second half deserve a lot credit."