Nicky Clark believes confidence is Dunfermline’s secret weapon as they chase a place in the promotion play-offs.
Clark and Andy Geggan struck to stretch the Fifers’ unbeaten league run to seven games with this win at Somerset Park, where they haven’t lost in their last 11 visits.
Clark, who scored his eighth goal of the season, is convinced the self-belief in the squad is now shining through and making them hard to beat.
“I said after the Raith game you could see the confidence in the team is high now,” he said.
“It’s important to keep that run and momentum going and hopefully push up the league for the play-offs.
“Winning becomes a habit. We want to close the gap as soon as possible and I’m sure we’ll do that with good performances.
“Confidence of winning games builds confidence within the team and I think you can see that.
“The boys are buzzing and looking forward to every match. That’s a lot to do with the difference of how we are playing now compared to the start of the season.
“Most of the boys were here last season when they cruised the league.
“However, this is a harder league and the boys are starting to realise that now. You need to turn up and perform.
“We’re definitely doing that and we’re getting the three points.
“It’s a similar Championship to last season and with Hibs and Dundee United it’s still a very difficult league. So if we get to the play-offs or better we’ll be delighted.”
Ayr are badly needing a quality striker who can finish and the Pars defence had some anxious moments as Alan Forrest, Nicky Devlin and Gary Harkins carved early chances.
But the nerves were settled after 26 minutes when Michael Moffat found Jason Talbot, whose cross from the left was nudged home by Clark.
It was 2-0 seven minutes later when a Kallum Higginbotham corner broke to Geggan and he hooked the ball home.
Ayr tried everything they knew in a bid to claw their way back, and Sean Murdoch brilliantly pushed over a Jamie Adams header.
Lee Ashcroft almost made it 3-0 but his netbound effort was cleared off the line by Robbie Crawford.
Like Clark, boss Allan Johnston believes Dunfermline have left behind their early season troubles and can focus on challenging at the top end of the table.
He said: “The start to the season was a wee knock to the confidence because we weren’t used to getting beaten.
“We’ve always said that the aim was to try to get into the top four. We know it’s going to be very difficult because there are a lot of quality teams and we’ve just been promoted, but I think we’ve a lot of good players and the team is on the up.
“At the start, we made a lot of mistakes and maybe played too open after playing in a league below last season.
“But the boys have stepped up and are playing with a bit of confidence.
“It always helps when you have finishers in the team as well.”
Ayr boss Ian McCall said: “We lack a cutting edge and that’s obvious to everyone. Gary Harkins beat three players and rolled the ball along the line but there was no one to stick it in the net.
“I think if Clark or Moffat were in our team it would have been a different story.”