BEITH Juniors will be presented with the West of Scotland Football League Premier Division trophy on Wednesday night - after defying expectations by surging to the title.

The Garnock Valley side only finished two points above the relegation zone in the West of Scotland Football League Premier Division last season.

But their fortunes really turned on May 17 last year - when they appointed former Kilwinning Rangers boss Chris Strain as their manager after their 2021-22 campaign drew to a close.

Strain came in to replace Bryan Young, after the former Talbot star was sacked following a poor run of form at the tail end of the season.

The new man's appointment came just a month after he was relieved of his duties at Kilwinning Rangers - at a time when the Buffs were sitting fifth in the table, 10 points adrift of then league leaders Auchinleck Talbot.

And Strain's remarkable turnaround at Beith came full circle in very poetic fashion as they secured the league title on Saturday.

Strain led his side to a 5-0 win over the Buffs at Bellsdale Park - a result which, thanks also to Josh Jack's late goal for Hurlford at home to Darvel, made Beith's championship win a mathematical certainty.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Fans came onto the park after the full time whistle to celebrate Beith's triumph.Fans came onto the park after the full time whistle to celebrate Beith's triumph. (Image: Stephen Kerr)

Goals from Carlo Monti, Andy Monk, talisman Josh Fowler and stalwart Conner McGlinchey handed Beith a comfortable win - and the title with three games to spare.

In the process, though, the Bellsdale result edges Strain's old side closer to relegation from the top flight.

And while it was all smiles in the Beith camp, the emotions among the Kilwinning players, coaching staff and supporters could hardly have been more different.

A second consecutive heavy defeat for Chris Aitken's men, coupled with a 3-1 win for fellow strugglers Arthurlie against Rob Roy, means that Buffs realistically have to win three of their last four games if they're to avoid relegation to the second tier.

Relegation has now been confirmed for Petershill and Cambuslang - and Buffs will join them in the First Division next season unless they can stage a major turnaround in form in their last few games.

Buffs' next 'must win' game is against Rob Roy at Guy's Meadow this Wednesday, May 3 (KO 7.15pm) before Largs Thistle are the visitors in Buffs' final home match of the campaign on Saturday, May 6.

A loss in either of the two fixtures, coupled with an Arthurlie win at home to Hurlford on Saturday, would relegate Aitken's side.

By contrast, Beith will be having a title party on Wednesday, May 3, when they face Auchinleck Talbot at Bellsdale park (KO 7.15pm).

As it's the club's last home fixture of the league season, the Premier Division trophy will be handed over after the full time whistle.