INSPIRED Kilwinning Rangers ended 2017 by soaring into top spot in the McBookie Super League Premier Division.

They secured a hard-fought 1-0 win against hosts Auchinleck Talbot at Beechwood Park on Saturday.

The visitors, who were without a host of key players, dug in hard and fought a rearguard action.

Later Buffs boss Chris Strain said: "It was a very gutsy performance as we had two boys who played through injury and five players who would be considered for the starting 11 were missing. I don't remember Talbot having a real clearcut chance apart from one in the second half."

However he cautioned: "We are top of the league and have done really well but have done nothing yet. We have Hurlford on Saturday and are at the top to be shot at. We have shown terrific resolve after a couple of disappointing cup performances."

A shot from the edge of the box by striker Bryan Boylan was easily saved by home goalie Andy Leishman in seven minutes and two minutes later at the other end, a strong effort from Jamie Glasgow hit the top of the net and went over.

The home goalie made a superb fingertip save to foil Ben Lewis from 10 yards in 13 minutes. A free-kick from 25 yards by Gordon Pope was well saved in 15 minutes.

However Buffs blasted into the lead in 18 minutes when Boylan volleyed the ball home from 12 yards.

Buffs had an opportunity in 22 minutes but Carlo Monti curled a 22-yard free-kick well wide. Monti then turned a Talbot opponent inside out before squeezing an angled drive just wide.

A good chance came Talbot's way in 33 minutes but Stephen Wilson shot well over the top from 20 yards.

Talbot came close in 48 minutes when the ball broke to Gareth Armstrong 25 yards out but he shot wide.

Stephen Wilson sent a 20-yard shot soaring well over the bar in 62 minutes.

Talbot were reduced to 10 men in 89 minutes when Glasgow was sent off after being given a second yellow-card for dissent, appearing to dive on the edge of the box.