A missed penalty cost Stenhousemuir the chance to take a point from League One title chaser Ayr United at Ochilview on Saturday.
Alan Cook and Colin McMenamin went close for Stenny early on, but Ayr looked a slick outfit and it was hardly a surprise when they went ahead in the 10th minute.
A sweet move up the left finished with Ross Caldwell guiding inside Jamie Barclay’s right post from 12 yards after Jordan Preston’s precise pass put the front man clean through.
The Warriors stuck doggedly to their task, but were clearly up against a better side and in the 29th minute Alan Trouten was only prevented from increasing the lead when Barclay brilliantly blocked his eight-yards volley at the near post.
Stenny managed to keep themselves in the game to the break, but right from the kick-off it took a couple of excellent saves from Barclay to prevent Paddy Boyle and Trouten extending the lead.
The home side were thrown a lifleline in 63 minutes when Robbie Crawford fouled Jon Robertson in the box, but they failed to grab it when McMenamin’s penalty was blocked by Greg Fleming’s boot.
The game turned after that, however, and United had their backs to the wall until the end.
Indeed, had the Warriors been given a second penalty when sub Jason Scotland was felled in the box after 83 minutes the home side might have rescued what had looked like an unlikely point.
When Jon Robertson was red carded two minutes from time though, it was all over.