Dunfermline Athletic 3 Ayr United 0

Lewis McCann was the hero as John Hughes’ first home match in charge of the Pars ended in a morale boosting victory that lifted them off the bottom of the league.

It’s now two wins in a row for Dunfermline and there’ll be renewed confidence coursing through the stands after this comfortable stroll against the Honest Men saw them rise to sixth in the table.

Athletic took the aerial route to victory with headers from McCann – his first goal for the club - and Ryan Dow putting them two up at the break.

McCann struck again early in the second half with a poor United side barely mustering a decent chance in the whole 90 minutes.

Although he said coaches Greg Shields and Steven Whittaker should take all the credit for last week’s win at Inverness, their first in the league this season, Hughes certainly had an influence after visiting the dressing room for a pep talk at half-time.

The Pars turned the match against Caley on its head after the break, it’s the kind of new manager ‘bounce’ the board of directors are banking on to get them out of relegation trouble, and he made two changes to his side for the visit of Ayr.

Rhys Breen missed out through injury, he was replaced by Vytas Gaspuitis, with Dow preferred to Kevin O’Hara who dropped to the bench.

The new manager spoke all week about the importance of keeping a clean sheet and the formation seemed to reflect that, with McCann the lone frontman, albeit with good support. 

There was almost a dream start for Hughes’ men with Kyle Macdonald swinging in a cross in the second minute that was met by Josh Edwards but Ayr keeper Aidan McAdams pushed his header away.

The Honest Men were thumped 4-0 at home by Partick last Saturday and they looked short of belief as Dunfermline swarmed all over them in the opening stages.

Athletic forced a number of corners before capitalising in the 14th minute.

Dom Thomas sent in an inswinging corner from the right and McCann flashed in a downward header with the ball bouncing high into the net.

It was the 20-year-old’s first goal for the club and he visibly grew in confidence as the match wore on, proving a real handful for the visiting defence.

Pars almost doubled up in the 23rd minute and again it was a set piece that had United in all sorts of trouble.

Matty Todd met the ball at the back post and his header beat the keeper but was cleared off the line by Andy Murdoch.

Ayr claimed for a penalty when ex-Par Jonathan Afolabi and Mark Connolly tumbled in the box amid a tangle of legs but the ref waved play on.

Macdonald showed good feet and a turn of pace to beat his man but pulled his shot wide of target as Dunfermline chased another goal.

United’s soft centre was exposed again in the 40th minute as Dow, one of Athletic’s smallest players, got free in the box to meet Graham Dorran’s corner and guide a header into the net.

McCann was clearly in the mood for more and after Dunfermline stroked the ball about and worked an opening for Aaron Comrie, he fired in a cross that the striker met and thumped just wide.

Ayr didn’t heed the warning and he made them pay in the 52nd minute when Comrie nodded the ball across goal and McCann sent a smart first time finish away from McAdams and into the net.

There was a rare anxious moment for the Pars defence on the hour mark when Macdonald tried to clear a Daire O’Connor cross but it flicked off the top of his head and the ball glanced off the post.

Hughes wouldn’t have wanted Pars to switch off and Joe Chalmers was given space to have a shot at goal in the 68th minute, with Owain Fon Williams diving to his left to keep the ball out.

Thomas opened up his box of tricks, showing great skill to glide away from two challenges and lift the ball into the box, where only a desperate clearance kept Pars out.

Dunfermline took their foot off the pedal, with a couple of slack passes giving Ayr a sniff, but the defence managed to hold firm.

McCann made way with nine minutes left, he received a standing ovation, and O’Hara took his place as Athletic ran down the clock.

Dorrans, described by Hughes this week as the best player at the club, certainly lived up to the billing and was everywhere, breaking up Ayr attacks, linking the play for the Pars and driving them team on.

It was a real captain's performance but in truth there were no failures in black and white as they wiped the floor Jim Duffy’s men.