Boss Mark Roberts leapt to the defence of keeper Ally Brown after Ayr blew the chance to go third.
United failed to hold on to Michael Moffat’s tenth goal of the season, the fifth game in six in which he has hit the target.
But they couldn’t snuff out Darren Smith late on and the striker’s close in header denied them the chance of six wins in seven.
Roberts admitted the late sickener was a real sore one but rubbished claims that Brown was to blame after he only pushed into the air an effort from John Gemmell.
He said: “The shot took a deflection off Austin McCann. Ally went to where the ball was going but it completely changed direction.
“We didn’t react to Ally’s save - strikers are taught to follow everything and we should have responded better.
“The goal shouldn’t have stood in my opinion as Smith was offside when Gemmell hit the shot.
“It feels like a defeat. We were the better team and should have won it.
“Moff keeps on scoring and is always a threat. He is one of these players who never hides.
“We have lost only once in seven games so we can’t grumble too much about a point away which is not a bad result.
“The one game we lost was at Alloa and there was nothing in it that day.”
Loan duo Kyle McAusland and Darian Mackinnon, who couldn’t play against Inverness Clach in the cup, were recalled.
Former Honest Man Stewart Kean nodded wide early on when he should have hit the target as Stenny started the game on the front foot.
Ayr’s best effort came from boss in boots Roberts who made space before rifling in a shot which on loan Celtic keeper Robbie Thomson parried.
The game burst into life in 67 minutes when Ayr took the lead through hot shot Moff.
Powerhouse Gemmell headed against the bar as Stenny hit back but there was controversy when Mackinnon’s shot seemed to be blocked on the line by Ross MacMillan’s hand. But ref Stevie O’Reilly ruled it had hit his chest.
There were only six minutes left when the Warriors ruined Ayr’s day with the equaliser. Brown tried to fist clear a deflected drive from Gemmell but succeeded only in setting up Smith who reacted quickly to head into the empty net.
Ayr could have regained the lead when MacKinnon was clean through on goal after chipping Brad McKay. But he lashed the ball straight at the keeper instead of aiming for the corner.
Warriors boss John Coughlin claimed: “Robbie Thomson showed again he is a class keeper.”