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Ayrshire football: Cup joy for Darvel as Beith regain advantage in title race

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Darvel’s rise through the west of Scotland ranks in recent seasons hasn’t been accompanied by success in knockout cup competition – but Tony McInally’s men put that right on Sunday afternoon by defeating Pollok 2-0 at Broadwood to win the Indigo Comms West of Scotland Cup.

Experienced striker Graham Wilson, no stranger to cup triumphs during his years at Auchinleck Talbot, put the Vale in front from the penalty spot with 15 minutes on the clock in Cumbernauld, and full-back Scott Walker doubled their advantage less than 60 seconds after half-time as Darvel got their hands on the trophy for the first time in the club’s history.

Darvel’s cup pursuits, with a Junior Cup final to come against Arthurlie in June, mean the Premier Division title is almost certainly beyond them this season – but the championship chase took yet another intriguing twist on Saturday.

Defending champions Beith looked as if they’d handed the initiative to chasing Auchinleck Talbot after tumbling to a surprise defeat at home to St Cadoc’s on Wednesday night – but whatever Chris Strain said in the dressing room after that 3-1 loss, it clearly had the desired effect as the leaders hit back in some style, trouncing Glenafton 9-0 at Bellsdale Park.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Beith put themselves back in control of the Premier Division title race with a 9-0 rout of Glenafton at Bellsdale Park.Beith put themselves back in control of the Premier Division title race with a 9-0 rout of Glenafton at Bellsdale Park. (Image: Stephen Kerr)

Ciaran Diver led the way with a first-half hat-trick, his fifth treble of the campaign, taking his overall goals tally for the season to 41, while Alan Docherty bagged a double and Carlo Monti, Andy Monk, Scot Rough and Martin Findlay also found the net.

A miserable day for Glens in their fight for top flight survival was capped by red cards for Mick McMullin and Lyall Holding in the second half, though the club says Holding’s red card will be the subject of an appeal to the Scottish FA.

It’s very definitely ‘advantage Beith’ in the title race after a surprise result a few miles up the road from Bellsdale as Talbot were held to a 2-2 draw away to Arthurlie.

Tommy Sloan’s men twice held the advantage at Dunterlie Park, thanks to Mick Wardrope’s first half double, but on each occasion the home side, still battling against relegation, hit back, first through Gareth Armstrong’s own goal and then through Lewis Magee midway through the second half.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Talbot's title hopes suffered a blow after they were held to a 2-2 draw away to Arthurlie.Talbot’s title hopes suffered a blow after they were held to a 2-2 draw away to Arthurlie. (Image: Craig McGhee/Auchinleck Talbot FC)

Irvine Meadow boss Ben Carson could have been forgiven for dishing out a few harsh words after his team’s 7-0 thrashing at Dunterlie Park last Wednesday – and the relegated Medda squad showed they still have plenty of fight in them yet, with goals from Euan Baird and Greg Cree earning Carson’s men a point from a 2-2 draw away to Rob Roy on Saturday, a result which deals a big blow to the Kirkintilloch club’s hopes of staying in the top flight.

And in a week in which the only consistent thing about Ayrshire clubs’ results in the top flight was their inconsistency, Hurlford United followed up their midweek win at Rob Roy with a 2-1 defeat at Gartcairn, with Michael Mullen’s penalty 10 minutes from time proving too little too late for Darren Henderson’s side at MTC Park.

In the First Division, Whitletts Vics’ battle to avoid dropping into the third tier was finally lost on Saturday – and there was nothing Mick McCann’s men could do about it.

The New Voluntary Park side, who weren’t in action on Saturday, have shown plenty of fighting spirit since McCann took over the reins in December, but the damage done in the first half of the campaign proved too much for them to overcome, with relegation confirmed after South Ayrshire rivals Maybole secured a huge three points in their own battle against the drop, Ross Robertson’s cheeky penalty completing a 2-0 win for the Ladywell Park side at home to St Roch’s.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Maybole took a giant step towards First Division safety with a 2-0 win at home to St Roch's.Maybole took a giant step towards First Division safety with a 2-0 win at home to St Roch’s. (Image: Martin Bone (flickr.com/martinbonephotography))

And Kilwinning Rangers became the second Ayrshire team in a few days to be swept aside by the Ashfield bandwagon, the Glasgow side following up their midweek victory at Kilbirnie Ladeside with a 3-0 win over Chris Aitken’s men that all but confirms Buffs will be spending next season in the second tier.

Meanwhile, the championship champagne is still on ice at Winton Park despite Ardrossan Winton Rovers’ 3-1 win at home to Kilsyth Rangers, with the Second Division title still tantalisingly out of reach for Gavin Friels’ men after Cumbernauld won away to Larkhall – though Winton now know that the trophy will be secured if they can defeat Caledonian Locomotive in their last home game of the season this weekend.

A second successive 3-0 win made Muirkirk’s place in the third tier for next season a mathematical certainty, with William Dawson, Marc Capaldi and Jamie Scullion the men on target against already-relegated Glasgow University – while Craigmark Burntonians stopped the rot after a damaging run of seven straight defeats, with a 1-1 draw at home to promotion-chasing Vale of Clyde keeping the Station Park side one point, and one place, above the relegation zone with three games to go.

A serious injury to a visiting player forced the abandonment of Ardeer Thistle’s Third Division clash at home to Lesmahagow; the score was 1-1 when Paul Woodlock suffered a serious ankle injury during the second half, with Thistle – who have five other matches still to play, four of them at home, in their bid to avoid relegation – now awaiting confirmation on whether the Gow tie will be replayed.

Dalry Thistle were unable to follow up their fine midweek win at home to Vale of Leven, with Chris Wilson’s men losing by the odd goal in three at Rockburn Park as hosts Bellshill close in on a place in the Second Division.

And after weeks of closing in on the Fourth Division promotion places, Lugar Boswell Thistle finally moved into the top three courtesy of their eighth win in the last nine matches.

 

 

Lewis Kerr netted a double and Kyle McCulloch and Conan Mackin were also on target as the Jaggy Bunnets leapfrogged Rossvale into third place, with the Rosebank Park side now looking towards wins in their last two matches, at home to champions Glenvale and then Royal Albert, to finish the job.

Completing the Ayrshire picture on Saturday were Eglinton, who also scored four on home turf, with a trialist hitting two of their goals and Liam Davis and Kris Mitchell on target in the Jousters’ last home match of the campaign as Easterhouse were dispatched 4-2.

 

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