PARTICK THISTLE'S promotion hopes died on a night of pain in Ayr which also say on-loan defender Jackie McNamara stretchered off in agony.
The Falkirk veteran writhed in agony after a crunching Martyn Campbell tackle which snapped his shin guard in half and will almost certainly end his season.
The Jags will wait to discover the extent of McNamara's injury today but, with his loan deal ending next week, it could well be next season before the former Celtic captain is seen again at Firhill.
Ian McCall had called on his misfiring troops to find their shooting boots and make a late challenge for the first division title ahead of the trip to Somerset.
But they hit a blank again and were made to pay by midfielder Steve Bowey who hit a stunning winner to lift Ayr out of the drop zone.
Once again Partick were left to rue a host of missed chances. United keeper Craig Samson denied David Rowson and then Liam Buchanan fired inches over the top as Thistle went close twice within a minute.
Chris Erskine miskicked when he should have scored and Paul Cairney lashed against the side netting as Ayr hung on to the break.
Thistle battered the home goal after the restart but to no avail.
After McNamara left the field on a stretcher midway through the second half, Thistle boss McCall went for broke and pitched three men up front.
But Ayr almost grabbed a second when Thistle keeper Jonny Tuffey was caught upfield at an injury time corner, only for Danny McKay to fire inches wide of the empty net.
Seconds later, Partick almost snatched a point when sub Mark Corcoran blasted over.
McCall said: "I just can't put my finger on it and that's another game where we've missed so many chances and it's really hard to take. Maybe the players aren't as good as I think they are."