Second half strikes from Paul Cairney and Alan Forrest were enough to earn the Honest Men their first three points of the campaign despite Ross Forbes’ late free-kick giving the visitors hope.
Duffy felt his had been the better side before the break and identified the fact they conceded just three minutes after the interval as the defining factor in the 90 minutes.
He said: “We had a couple of clear-cut chances with Gary [Oliver] at the back stick there, and there were a couple of other good crosses but we just didn’t get on the end of them.
“I thought in the first half we were a side that was in control of the game but we lost a goal early in the second half and that changed the complexion of the game. It meant we were chasing it.
“It’s the old cliché that goals change the game, but it’s true. Ayr United got a bit of confidence from it and we got a bit kind of frustrated and, ultimately, the second goal gives them breathing space.
“But the first goal was pivotal. If we could have scored in the first half then it of course gives you belief and it means the opposition then have to rush things a little bit.
“Particularly coming when it did at the start of the second half, then it gives the confidence to Ayr United and knocks the stuffing out of us a wee bit, so it was a big turning point in the game.
“You just see the confidence seeping out, and that’s what happens if you’ve not had a couple of results, aren’t playing as well as you’d like to play and getting a bit of stick.
“When you’ve got a lot of young players that confidence can go quickly, so you’ve got to regroup and keep working at it, and I think we did that. From our point of view, we kept working at it and kept trying. Even with 10 men and the injuries we had today, we never gave up.
“Gats [Derek Gaston] was missing, Michael Tidser was missing, Ricki [Lamie] got injured early and obviously Mark has been sent off. Lee Kilday was struggling, Tam O’Ware was struggling, but to their credit they just kept at it.
“So from my point of view as a manager you can look at the commitment of the players. They made mistakes and we understand that and that’s a big thing in the game, but in terms of effort I was delighted.
“I’m disappointed with the result and we congratulate Ayr United, but from our point of view we will get back to hard work and we’ll have a roll call on Monday to see how everybody is.”
Left-back Russell was shown a straight red card in the 72nd minute for pulling back Ayr sub Kevin Nisbet to prevent him running clear on goal, and Duffy said he had no complaints with the dismissal.
The Ton boss explained: “Mark has pulled him. You can always say somebody was on the cover or not, but from where we were I know he [Nisbet] was going through and I know he did pull him.
“But again we were chasing the game at that time and it was unfortunate for Mark. He’s had a tough time of it this year and I thought he was playing well today.
“Unfortunately, that red card will put him out as well. We don’t have our troubles to seek just now, but we’ll not feel sorry for ourselves and we’ll get going next week.
“If we can show the same desire and effort as we did today and a bit more composure then I’m sure we can get back on track. We have to make sure we keep working and keep trying to improve.”
Image: David Bell