At last Dundee gave the supporters the performance they've been craving with an excellent 3-1 win at Somerset Park.
The Dee took charge from the start and dominated till the final whistle. Skipper Rhys Weston opened the scoring then Leighton McIntosh and Steven Milne completed the scoring in the second half, with the only blemish being an Ayr penalty scored by Mark Roberts.
Every part of the team looked comfortable and composed as the Dee won their battles all over the pitch. It was great to see McIntosh and Milne grabbing goals after the tough time the strikers have had this season.
Dundee made three changes from last week's home defeat against Ross County. Rhys Weston came back into central defence in place of Craig McKeown. The other changes were last week's substitutes retaining their place in the starting line up; Gavin Rae replacing Kyle Benedictus (with Gary Irvine moving from midfield to his usual right back spot) and Leighton McIntosh instead of the injured Graham Bayne.
Dundee quickly took charge, dominating possession and driving towards the home goal in a series of attacks. Ayr couldn't keep the ball and failed to put the Dee defence under any pressure throughout the whole of the first half.
Dundee started to wind up the pressure and deserved to take the lead after 15 minutes. Nicky Riley had been looking sharp and had a fierce shot deflected wide. O'Donnell's corner was played out as far as Riley who set up O'Donnell to cross again. Rhys WESTON was left unmarked at the far post and didn't even have to jump as he glanced a simple header just inside the post.
Ayr's dreadful defending at corners was a key feature of the game and Dundee might have extended their lead when Weston powered a header over the bar from another corner.
Dundee certainly should have taken the lead on the half hour. Nicky Riley's shot from the edge of the area took a huge deflection and seemed to be looping over Cuthbert's head but the keeper pulled off a fine save to tip the ball over the bar.
When the corner came into the goalmouth Cuthbert punched clear amongst a scrum of players, but referee McKendrick stunned the home side by awarding a penalty, possibly for Weston being held.
For once Matt Lockwood failed to score, and Cuthbert saved brilliantly diving to his left. Yet again the resulting corner caused panic in the Ayr defence and Gavin Rae stabbed the ball against the crossbar.
Dundee didn't let their failure to score worry them and for the rest of the half they continued to pressurise Ayr, who must have been relieved to reach the dressing room only one goal behind.
There must have been some harsh words in the home dressing room at half time, but Ayr were completely unable to challenge Dundee's control in the second half, which continued in exactly the same vein as the first half. Play was heading constantly towards the Dee support behind the Ayr goal and Rab Douglas's involvement was largely restricted to dealing with back-passes and the odd cross.
Worryingly for the supporters the second goal took an age to arrive, but there was no sign of nerves in the Dundee team who kept probing patiently.
Leighton McIntosh had two shots from the edge of the area, but both flew over the bar. Steven Milne beat Cuthbert to a pass-back but couldn't screw the ball into the net from a tight angle.
Finally, with 20 minutes left Dundee scored the second goal they'd been threatening ever since Weston's opener.
An Ayr attack broke down and Nicky Riley raced away down the left. He cut inside, using Ryan Conroy as a decoy, and tried to play Milne in on goal. The ball broke back to him but he was bundled over on the edge of the area. Andy Geggan had the chance to clear, but he hesitated disastrously. Leighton MCINTOSH ambushed him and slipped the ball past Cuthbert.
Almost from the kick-off, after 71 minutes, Ayr had their first serious shot of the game when Wardlaw his luck from 18 yards. Douglas caused a flutter in Dee hearts by spilling the ball, but recovered quickly.
The home side had run out of ideas and Dundee looked likely to add to their lead. Surprisingly Ayr gave their supporters fleeting hope with a goal seven minutes from the end.
Matt Lockwood made a poorly judged tackle on Moffat on the byline, giving the referee an easy decision. Mark ROBERTS scored from the spot and the home fans were crying “game on!”.
That's not the way it panned out. Dundee didn't let Ayr back into the Dee half until the two goal lead was safely restored three minutes later.
Dundee patiently and professionally kept possession in the Ayr half till they won a free kick wide on the left.
Ryan Conroy crossed to the far post and Steven MILNE headed in from 8 yards to claim the goal his performance had deserved.
That was the end of the game as a contest. Ayr had lost their shape and were a well beaten side. Dundee saw out the game hunting for a fourth goal.
This wasn't a flashy win, and there weren't any flamboyant touches from the Dee, but this was exactly the sort of professional, confident, imposing performance we wanted to see so badly. Barry Smith didn't use any of his substitutes today. Why would he when the 11 players he sent out were so firmly in charge?
There wasn't a failure in dark blue, though Matt Lockwood will have to endure some banter for his penalty misfortunes. Gavin Rae was an imposing figure in midfield, and Nicky Riley was a constant menace. However, the great news for the supporters who couldn't get to Ayr was that this was a excellent team performance, and two goals from the strikers was a huge relief!
Ayr Utd FC 4-4-2
Tiffoney, John Robertson, Ross Robertson, Malone
Trouten (Wardlaw 56), Geggan, McKernon (Burke 80), McGowan (Connolly 56)
Unused subs; McWilliams (gk), Armstrong
Goals; Roberts 83 (pen)
Booked; John Robertson (dissent), McKernon (foul on Riley), Geggan (foul on O'Donnell)
Dundee FC 4-4-2
Irvine, McGregor, Weston, Lockwood
Riley, Rae, O'Donnell, Conroy
Unused subs; Gibson (gk), McCluskey, Chisholm, McKeown, Benedictus
Goals; Weston 15, McIntosh 70, Milne 86
Booked; Lockwood (foul on Geggan)
Referee; John McKendrick
Report; James Christie