Lee Bullen sets sights on future as Ayr United seal Championship safety

Lee Bullen watched his Ayr United side seal Championship safety in style – then insisted he’s not prepared to settle for more relegation scraps.

The Honest Men ran out dominant 3-1 winners against Partick Thistle on a night which had promised to test the nerves.

But in the end, Ayr gave their support little reason to worry with a thoroughly impressive display.

And, coupled with Dunfermline’s flop at home to Queen of the South, it meant a potentially fraught night ended in scenes of celebration for the majority of the 3,462 inside Somerset.

Bullen said: “This result has been coming for us and I’m delighted for the boys to get their just rewards.

“It was an emotional rollercoaster but we got the job done in the end.

“As we stand here now we’re celebrating finishing eighth in the league and that’s not something I want the club to be doing year in, year out moving forward.

“But this gives us stability and allows us to avoid the play offs and start planning.

Tomi Adeloye celebrates his goal
Tomi Adeloye celebrates his goal

“We won’t throw money at it but we will try and recruit wisely.”

Bullen added: “We’ve been planning to build this club since I arrived in January.

“This really allows us to kick on now.

“I’m delighted for the fans…they have stuck with the players each week and been frustrated because they haven’t seen the results the performances merited.

“But tonight we got what we deserved and the players gave every ounce of energy they had.

“I must also praise young Paul Smith as well to come in and put on the kind of performance he did against a team going for promotion – I thought he was absolutely brilliant.”

Aaron Muirhead bagged two spot kicks
Aaron Muirhead bagged two spot kicks

Ayr settled the nerves early with a fifth minute opener when Tomi Adeloye was hauled down by Lewis Mayo and Aaron Muirhead lashed home the resultant penalty kick.

Thistle, who had made five changes prior to kick off with Tuesday’s promotion play-off against Inverness in mind, then lost Kyle Turner to injury with the game barely 15 minutes old.

And it was Ayr turning the screw as they piled forward at every opportunity to try and put the game to bed in the early going.

United almost doubled their lead when Muirhead drew a fingertip save from Jamie Snedoon after meeting Smith’s corner.

Adeloye flashed a header just wide of target as they continued to pour forward.

Fans flooded the pitch at time up
Fans flooded the pitch at time up

But they didn’t have to wait long for the vital breathing space as Adeloye doubled the lead with a header which slipped through Sneddon’s grasp.

Thistle sub Kevin Holt drew a brilliant reaction save from Aidan McAdams after half time as they threatened to set alarm bells ringing.

But it was always Ayr who looked the more likely to strike again and they duly settled the game with another penalty won by Adeloye.

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His pace and power was too much for the Thistle defence to handle all night and when Holt hauled him down, ref Bobby Madden had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Muirhead stepped up to ram home his second spot kick of the night and put Ayr on the verge.

Thistle still had time for a consolation near time up when Alex Jakubiak showed great composure to find space and fire home from just inside the Ayr box.

But there was to be no denying United, who can now set about planning for a summer of building towards another campaign in the Championship.

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