Saints were left to rue missed chances at Somerset Park on Saturday as a repeat of the Dumfries scenario a few weeks back came back to haunt us. In fact, this was more frustrating as we dominated Ayr to a greater extent than we did Queen of the South.
Craig Russell found himself in the starting line-up and went onto have a good game and that left the teamline reading: Cuthbert, Robertson, Lovenkrands, McCluskey, Murray, Maxwell, McCann, Reilly, Hartley, Connolly, Russell. Subs: Dods, McCulloch, Parker, Stevenson, Main.
The first of many chances came within the first 60 seconds when Paul Hartley found himself free in the box but he blazed over the bar, a miss which set the tone for the game. In 6 minutes Tommy Lovenkrands got on the end of a Paddy Connolly cross but his effort went over the bar. Saints' domination of the early stages continued and in 13 minutes neat approach play by Ryan McCann and Russell led to a drive from the excellent John Robertson but again Craig Nelson saw it go over his head and away from danger.
Perhaps the closest shave the home side had was in 23 minutes when a Maxwell header from a dangerous Hartley corner was blocked on the line by a United defender and scrambled clear.
Connolly had the ball in the net approaching half time but only after he had controlled the ball with his hand and then just on the interval a fierce Russell shot was spilled by Nelson but Connolly couldn't pounce on the loose ball.
It's difficult to over-emphasize Saints' domination of that first period with Kevin Cuthbert a virtual spectator save for a couple of crosses and long range efforts which were well wide.
After the restart Saints picked up where they left off but Nelson wasn't troubled by a couple of long range efforts. There was a scare for Saints in 53 minutes when Kevin Cuthbert picked up a back pass from Ian Maxwell and it was 'all hands to the pumps' to defend the free kick from all of 8 yards. Thankfully, Sheerin blasted the ball over the bar.
The bulk of the posssession remained with Saints but their luck was summed up in 67 minutes when they were awarded a free kick 20 yards out. Hartley's effort hit a defender and smacked the post with Nelson beaten which would have been frustrating had the referee not ordered a re-take. The second kick saw Nelson push Hartley's effort around the post with his fingertips - now that WAS frustrating! With Ayr reduced to long range efforts and hopeful balls mopped up by the Perth defence
Keigan Parker was introduced for Russell, Ryan Stevenson for McCann and Marc McCulloch for Lovenkrands in a bid to snatch a goal but it wasn't to be. The closest we came was two minutes from time when Parker was clearly tripped in the box but to the astonishment of all in blue and white the referee booked him for diving. Keigan perhaps hasn't helped himself in these situations in the past but a more blatant spot kick you are unlikely to see this season.
A frustrating decision but then we really should have had the points wrapped up by that time anyway.
The news that Falkirk had dropped a couple of points late on eased the journey home but this was a missed opportunity. We dominated play more than in any other match this season home or away and really should have won.
However, another clean sheet for an increasingly impressive defence and while Kevin Cuthbert has received deserved praise for his shut outs, plaudits today for Robertson, McCluskey, Maxwell and Murray who mopped up everything Ayr could muster.
Man of the Match: John Robertson