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Dunfermline 2-0 Ayr United: Match report, star man and player ratings as Pars revival continues

James McPake's side lift themselves into fifth place in the table with a deserved victory.

A celebrating Chris Hamilton.
Chris Hamilton headed in Dunfermline's opening goal against Ayr United. Image: SNS.

Dunfermline racked up a win for the second time in eight days as their revival continued against Ayr United.

After going nine games without a victory, the Pars stretched their unbeaten run to four games with a comfortable three points against the Honest Men.

Skipper Chris Hamilton nodded in a richly-deserved opener for the Fifers four minutes from the break.

And Chris Kane grabbed his first goal for the club to double the East End Park men’s advantage in first-half stoppage time to lift James McPake’s side into fifth in the Championship table.

Kyle Benedictus stands beside a wall emblazoned with the Dunfermline Athletic F.C. badge.
Kyle Benedictus was a welcome addition to the Dunfermline squad. Image:  Craig Brown / Dunfermline Athletic F.C.

Starting line-up, welcome return and icon remembered

With a third game in eight days, Dunfermline continued to mix it up for the visit of Ayr.

Kane had recovered from illness to take his place at the apex of the Fifers attack in the place of Alex Jakubiak.

Also back in the team for his first start in five games was Owen Moffat at the expense of former Celtic team-mate Ben Summers.

Owen Moffat gets on the ball in Dunfermline's win over Partick Thistle.
Owen Moffat was restored to the starting line-up for the first time in a month. Image: Craig Brown / DAFC.

The good news was on the bench, where skipper Kyle Benedictus returned to the squad for the first time in over two months following a thigh injury.

The Pars players emerged for kick-off wearing black armbands and there was a minute’s silence in memory of 1961 Scottish Cup-winning hero and former manager Harry Melrose, who passed away recently.

Strong start from Dunfermline

Dunfermline, clearly buoyed by last Friday’s victory over Partick Thistle and the midweek stalemate with Inverness Caley Thistle, started on the front foot.

With confidence coursing through the team, they threatened after just two minutes.

Matty Todd was prominent throughout in a magnificent display and started the move with a ball wide to Moffat, but Chris Kane’s flick on the winger’s low cross slipped wide.

Matty Todd adjusts his black armband.
Matty Todd was influential throughout for Dunfermline. Image: Craig Foy / SNS Group.

Three minutes later, Todd was sent through on goal by Kane’s round-the-corner pass but was forced wide before Josh Clarke blocked his effort from a tight angle.

From Paul Allan’s corner, Josh Edwards returned the clearance back into the mix and Hamilton’s header kissed the top of the bar on its way over.

DAFC continue on top

There were only 13 minutes gone when the Pars went close again.

Todd’s superb curling cross from the right narrowly evaded Kane in the middle and Malachi Fagan-Walcott scooped his half-volley over from inside the six-yard box.

Todd then had a shot deflected wide and in the 25th minute another one blocked by an Ayr defender.

The home side’s appeals for a penalty for handball were waved aside by referee Peter Stuart.

Ayr rallied to make it more of an even contest approaching half-time, but all of a sudden Dunfermline made the breakthrough their play deserved.

A quick 1-2

Miles Welch-Hayes won a corner on the right in the 41st minute and Allan swerved over another excellent delivery.

In a penalty box populated by a clutch of bigger men, Hamilton was the most determined and in the right place to place his header out of the reach of Clarke.

Chris Kane holds up a Dunfermline Athletic scarf.
Chris Kane grabbed his first goal for Dunfermline. Image: Craig Brown / Dunfermline Athletic F.C.

In first-half injury-time, Dunfermline doubled their lead.

Kane made himself a pest as he dispossessed Sean McGinty to scamper clear and his finish was cool as he slotted beyond Clarke.

Ensuring lightning did not strike twice

Dunfermline also roared into a two-goal lead in their last meeting with Ayr back in December.

But on that occasion they were pegged back by the Honest Men in a 2-2 draw.

There were signs there could be a similar scenario here as Ayr began the second-half fired up and trying desperately to dig out another comeback.

The Pars almost gifted the visitors a route back into the match when Ewan Otoo misplaced a pass-back and only succeeded in finding Anton Dowds.

But a combination of Fagan-Walcott, Hamilton and keeper Deniz Mehmet snuffed out the danger.

Ayr then rarely troubled until substitute Joe Chalmers booted off the line in injury-time to seal back-to-back clean sheets for the Fifers.

Star Man: Matty Todd

Playing with ten on his back and in the marauding role for that number, Todd was at the heart of Dunfermline’s bright opening.

His energy and box-to-box ability brings a fresh dimension to the Pars that has been missing for most of the campaign in his injury absence.

Player Ratings

Dunfermline (4-2-3-1): Mehmet 6; Welch-Hayes 7, Fagan-Walcott 7, Hamilton 7, Edwards 7; Allan 7 (Chalmers 82 3), Otoo 7; Moffat 6 (Jakubiak 64 4), Todd 8 (Summers 82 3), McCann 7 (O’Halloran 72 3); Kane 7 (Holmes 82 3). Subs not used: Little, Benedictus, T Sutherland, Benjamin

Referee: Peter Stuart.

Attendance: 5,050.