McKay hat trick has Ross County high on Ayr
Ross County 3
Ayr United 2
County: McKay (35, 70, 75) Ayr: Shankland (62) Murdoch (75)
Billy McKay was the hat trick hero as his goals gave Ross County all three points to stay five points clear at the top of the Championship.
But the Northern Irishman was taken off injured after scoring his third goal holding his arm as he walked off the pitch.
Ross County made just one change to the team that came from behind to beat Partick Thistle 4-2 as Tom Grivosti replaced Andy Boyle.
County came close to taking the lead a minute after kick-off when Tom Grivosti got a head on a Josh Mullin corner and headed just wide.
Ayr United responded when Lawrence Shankland held off the challenge of Tom Grivosti and had a shot on goal from 12 yards which flashed wide of the left post.
The Staggies then suffered a major blow as Ross Stewart was taken off injured after just 19 minutes with Brian Graham coming on in his place.
County then had a great chance to take the lead immediately afterwards when Mullin found himself through on goal but saw his shot saved by Ross Doohan.
Mullin was causing problems in the Ayr defence and went close again timing his run perfectly to run on to a Jamie Lindsay long ball and charged into the box but saw his shot hit the side netting.
Michael Garydne picked up the ball in his own half and played a neat one two with Billy McKay before charging into the box and unleashing a powerful drive which forced Doohan to tip over the bar.
But the Staggies took the lead 10 minutes before half time when a long ball into the box from Lindsay was met by McKay who controlled it around the defence before firing low into the net.
Mullin almost doubled Ross County’s lead before half time after he connected with McKay’s cross from the left wing with his shot hitting the crossbar from 12 yards.
Ayr equalised just after the hour mark when Liam Smith stole the ball at the right wing and he crossed into the box to find Shankland who from eight yards scored his 31 goal of the season
However Ross County regained the lead in the 70minute when Billy McKay scored a screamer from 25 yards.
But Ayr levelled again when Shankland’s cross into the box found Michael Moffat who squared it back to Ross Docherty to finish off from close range
But the Staggies found themselves in front three minutes later when McKay grabbed his hat-trick by getting on to a ball in the box but in the process injured himself and was replaced by Declan McManus.
Ross County held on to win and are five points ahead of second placed Dundee United.
Ross County: Fox, Fraser, Gardyne, Lindsay, McKay (McManus 75), Mullin (Cowie 90), Watson, Spence, Stewart (Graham 22), Van der Weg, Grivosti.
Subs (Unused) Munro, Semple, Paton, Cowie, Armstrong.
Ayr: Doohan, Harvie, Rose, Moffat, Crawford, Adams, Shankland, Murdoch (Cadden 88), Docherty, Smith, Miller.
Subs (Unused) Hare-Reid, Higgins, Kerr, McDaid, Bell, Muirhead.
Referee: Nick Walsh