It was a defeat, disappointing in the end, but a match still to be savoured even if it all but eliminated Falkirk from the Betfred Cup.
What football fan can begrudge a match filled with two evenly-matched sides, a red-card, numerous comings together, a missed penalty and three goals?
A losing one perhaps but look beyond the result against a team in the league above with ten men and Falkirk, on the surface have all the makings of a good Championship side. As good, or almost, as Ayr.
It was a game befitting the Championship and it will be in a year or so’s time no doubt, with the majority of the Bairns’ line-up on two-year deals. Games this season will likely be a whole lot more straightforward and mundane than this and as an action-filled test against a higher level side, it was an enjoyable afternoon for those who travelled to the west coast in such numbers that kick off was delayed to allow them in.
Had Mark Durnan stayed on the park the Bairns could be adding another player to the pool on another contract with the prize money because they were more than matching the Honest Men when a rush of blood to the head for the big defender saw him not only stride forward and bash at goal from 25 yards, but then charge in on goalkeeper Ross Doohan. Much ado about nothing but when the pair went head to head Barry Cook decided the aggressor would walk and spared the Ayr goalkeeper who went on to defy the Bairns further with his penalty save to Ian mcShane’s penalty.
It will likely be the last he hits with the likes of Declan McManus grabbing the ball before the former Ross County and St Mirren man saw his low effort saved.
To deny McManus a shot at his third goal in two games in one week was, in hindsight, the Bairns’ biggest mistake on an afternoon where they competed well and threatened to upset the odds stacked against them. His deflected goal just before half-time was much deserved after Ayr’s goal on the counter-attack through Luke McCowan broke the deadlock.
The Bairns had been attacking and progressive to that point, and in Charlie Telfer there is a player capable of strutting his stuff on a higher stage, and he will with the strength of the Bairns’ line-up and performance.
He’ll be the stand-out in League One this season – if he’s allowed to play. Michael Moffat’s horribley cynical challenge on the little winger after a nimble 60 yard sashay up the touchline took him past Moffat and then Mark Kerr before a nasty kick on the ankle stopped him in his tracks. It was the only way to stop him and he will need to beware similar retribution from the defences he will terrify in League One this season.
That’s to be looked forward to and there was enough on show to suggest the Bairns can be back to matching the Honest Men on the Ayrshire coast after this season’s dip to the seaside leagues.