A stunning Safranko strike sparked a sensational second half fight back and sees United stretch their lead over Ayr to nine points in second place.
By Alasdair Marnoch
Neilson made two changes to his starting eleven after a disappointing draw away to league leaders Ross County bringing on Booth and Sow whilst leaving Clark and Safranko on the bench.
First Half: The game started evenly with some entertaining end to end football. United had the first real chance of the game in the 6th minute after McMullan made his way up the pitch only for Sow to fire the ball just wide of the post. Minutes later the United fans were on their feet screaming for a penalty as Sow was brought down in the box.
Sow was once again at the centre of the action in the 18th minute, getting the ball into the back of the net, but the linesman had already raised his flag.
United continued to get the ball forward and McMullan was brought down in the 23rd minute 35 yards out after a run from the middle and Robbie Crawford was shown the first yellow card of the game.
Just a minute later Sow was also put in the book for a rash tackle. After the resulting set piece and some bad defending from the home side, a looping cross from Andrew Murdoch went straight over Siegrist and was headed in by Ayr United’s captain Steven Bell.
In the dying minutes of the opening half McMullan raced down the right wing from the half way line finding himself just outside the box where he shot low, but the keeper scrambled to the bottom right corner grasping McMullan’s effort.
Second Half: McMullan continued his form from the first half making great some great runs into Ayr’s half, but Daniel Harvie was prepared to sacrifice a yellow card and was the third player to have his name in the book after bringing McMullan down right outside the box.
Pawlett rolled the ball to Sow who attempted to curve the ball round Ayr United’s wall but after a scramble in the box the ball went out for a goal kick.
United made their first substitutions of the game in the 59th minute bringing on Clark and Safranko for Booth and Sow. Safranko was quick to make an impact.
Harkes crossed the ball from the right wing for Safranko to chest the ball down just outside the six-yard box and slam it into the back of the net.
Clark had a chance to give United the lead from a free-kick but his ball went just over the bar and into the Eddie Thompson stand where fans were loudly pushing for United to score a second.
The home fans didn’t need to wait too long for that second goal as on the 72nd minute after a poor clearance from the Ayr United keeper, McMullan once again ran deep down the right wing and fired the ball into the far side of the goal giving United the lead for the first time in the game.
Summary: The first half of the game was fairly even with Dundee United unlucky to be a goal behind at half time. But after a tactical change from Neilson, who brought Safranko and Clark on the 59th minute the home side’s confidence was boosted, and they went on to win 2-1.
Man of the Match: McMullan once again proved why he was a regular on Neilson’s side making great runs down the pitch and scoring Dundee United’s winner.
Dundee United: Siegrist, Booth (Clark, 59), McMullan, Sow (Safranko, 59’), Robson, Butcher, Reynolds, Watson, Harkes, Pawlett, Connolly
Subs not used: Laidlaw, Fyvie, Nesbitt, Smith, Seaman
Ayr United: Doohan, Smith, Harvie, Rose, Bell (Docherty, 85), Murdoch, Crawford, Geggan (Kerr, 45’), McDaid, Moffat, (Miller, 75’), Shankland
Subs not used: Hare-Reid, Muirhead, Cadden, Moore
Referee: Bobby Madden