May 13 2011 by Mike WIlson, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
AYR put the league season to bed and then roared: Bring on the play-offs.
Rory McAllister's 29th goal meant it ended with a defeat but that mattered not with their end of term shoot-out already assured.
Now Ayr head to Forfar on Wednesday before hosting the Loons in the second leg on Saturday. And the prize is a crack at Brechin or Cowdenbeath to make the First Division.
A handful of key men were rested but that meant a chance for youth with 15-year-old Academy kid Mark Shankland the latest to get a run when he played the last 22 minutes.
The highly rated Mauchline lad recently spent a month training with Liverpool where he scored two goals and hit the post in a 2-2 draw at Sheffield United.
Boss Brian Reid admitted: "The intention was to keep the winning run going but we were in a bit of a dilemma trying to protect players for the play-offs. That didn't mean we were coming with an easy attitude.
"The goal we lost was sloppy albeit I thought he looked a yard offside but we have to defend better.
"However, in the second-half we played a lot better but didn't get the finish that was needed."
McAllister, the Second Division's player of the year, nodded home a Neil Janczyk free-kick after 19 minutes to ensure Brechin's play-off spot.
A Chris Smith header and a Michael Moffat shot was Ayr's best response but Brechin could have doubled their lead late on when Jamie Redman was wide from an Ewan Moyes knockdown.
Ayr almost had the last word when teenage sub Roddy Paterson set up Shankland but the youngster's hope of a dream debut was foiled by a great save by veteran keeper Craig Nelson.
STAR MEN: ***Alan Martin; **Alan Trouten; *Chris Smith.
BRECHIN - Nelson; McBain, Cook, McLauchlan (White 62), Moyes, Molloy, Fusco, Janczyk, Redman, McAllister (Kirkpatrick 85), Megginson (McKenna 65). Unused subs: Scott, Byers.
AYR - Martin; Lauchlan, Donnelly, (Armstrong 75), Smith, Easton; D. Crawford (Shankland 68), Trouten, McLaughlin, Bannigan; Rodgers, Moffat (Paterson 85). Unused subs: Crawford (gk), R. Crawford; Booked: Smith, Easton.
Referee - Euan Norris; Crowd - 577.