Teenager Stephen Kelly’s first-half goal proved the difference as Ayr claimed a narrow 1-0 Ladbrokes Championship victory over Queen of the South at Somerset Park to move up to third.
The visitors enjoyed the better of the opening chances with Connor Murray shooting wide and Gary Oliver having an effort saved before Faissal El Bakhtaoui sent his attempt on goal to the left of the upright.
But it was Ayr who took the lead as on-loan Rangers midfielder Kelly, 19, opened his league goalscoring account midway through the first half as he picked out the bottom corner from the edge of the 18-yard box.
Alan Forrest fired wide as the hosts looked to double their score eight minutes into the second half while at the other end, Jack Hamilton’s header was saved in the bottom corner.
Ayr came close again through Forrest 12 minutes from time and Aaron Muirhead also had a chance moments later as the home side continued to press and took maximum points.