United went into the match knowing that a win would lift them to the summit of the Ladbrokes Championship table, at least for 24 hours. Robbie Neilson made two changes to the team that beat Alloa last time out with captain Fyvie coming in for Rabitsch who dropped to the bench and King replacing Nicky Clark.
By Tommy McKay
Things couldn’t have started much worse for United as they fell behind in the 3rd minute. A quickly taken free kick down the line found Moffat and his cross Shankland whose free header beat Siegrist. Three minutes later and Shankland had the chance to extend the lead. He latched onto a through ball and despite having the strength to hold off Edgejuele his cross come shot didn’t find the target. United didn’t come out of that chance unscathed though as keeper Siegrist appeared to pull a muscle and had to be replaced by Rakovan.
That man Shankland proved to be a thorn in the side of United all half and he had several chances to increase his tally and Ayr’s lead before finally doing so on 41 minutes. McDaid did well down the left and his cross was turned home by the unmarked Shankland from seven yards.
United’s only chance on target in the first half fell to McMullan. Safranko picked up the ball midway into the Ayr half and he fed Aird out wide. His first time cross found McMullan in acres of space but the winger wasn’t able to get over the ball and his soft header was easily held by Doohan in the Ayr goal.
Into the second half and despite Neilson changing the shape and going 4 4 2 and bringing on Curran for King, it didn’t have the desired effect with United unable to fashion a clear goal scoring chance in the second half.
Ayr made sure of the points on 77 minutes when Michael Moffat burst onto a simple ball over the top, drew Rakovan and slotted past the giant goalkeeper to send Ian McCall's men to the summit of the Championship table.
It was to get worse for United in 86 minutes when Shankland completed his hat trick. After indecision in the United box, Rakovan was adjudged to have fouled Michael Moffat inside the area and up stepped Shankland.
United's misery was compounded a minute later with Shankland again finding too much space in the United box and with that time he was able to bring the ball down and fire home to make it an emphatic win for the Honest Men at Tannadice.
Dundee United: Siegrist (Rakovan), Booth, McMullan, Fyvie, King (Curran), Stanton, Safranko, Bouhenna, Edjenguele, Aird, Watson
Subs: Murdoch, Frans, Smith, Robson, Rabitsch
Booked: Stanton, Bouhenna, Fyvie
Ayr United: Doohan, Smith, Harvie (Ecrepont), Rose, Bell, Murdoch, Crawford, Geggan (McGuffie), McDaid, Moffat, Shankland
Subs: Hare-Reid, Higgins, Ferguson, Docherty, McCowan,
Booked: Geggan, Bell, Crawford
Referee: Don Freeman