Beith 4 Largs Thistle 1

Hat-trick man Ciaran Diver was the hero for a powerful Beith unit as they dismantled Largs, with two goals in each half in a high octane encounter last night (August 16).

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Ciaran Diver celebratesCiaran Diver celebrates (Image: Stephen Kerr)

Beith were dominant in the first half and had a seemingly comfortable lead but when Thistle halved the deficit, the game was suddenly in the balance, with Largs rattling the crossbar, and going close to a leveller.

Diver's third proved the turning point in this game and Beith could have scored more themselves, while Largs also had further chances, in a match which was end-to-end at times in a dramatic second half.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Bellsdale Park resplendent in sunshine before kick-offBellsdale Park resplendent in sunshine before kick-off (Image: Newsquest)

It was a big three points for the Garnock Valley side as they continued their impressive 100 per cent record to the league, but it leaves Largs in the lower reaches of the Premier.

An entertaining game was in prospect, with Beith having recorded three wins in their last five outings against Largs with 16 scored, while Largs had two wins, and notched 14 goals.

Within 30 seconds, Beith nearly had the lead with an immediate breakaway with Diver's diagonal effort just drifting wide of the left post.

The opener arrived on 15 minutes as Andy Monk's slide rule pass allowed Diver to dart through and blast home from the edge of the box.

Beith had more opportunities with a direct high ball route into the box causing problems for the Thistle defence, but home keeper Stott impressively palmed away a dangerous goalbound volley from Thistle midfielder Stuart Faulds.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Thistle midfield in actionThistle midfield in action (Image: Newsquest)

But Beith's dominance told with a second goal which was almost a carbon copy of the first as Largs were split open through the middle with Robbie Scullion teeing up Diver who drew Thistle keeper Joe Wilton off his line before tucking home on 37 minutes.

The home side were well worth their half-time lead, and Beith nearly added a third with some pinball wizard in the Largs box as Thistle desperately cleared in a scramble.

Thistle were at sixes and sevens as they tried to pass their way out of defence but conceded possession to Diver whose deflected 20 yard effort flew the wrong side of the left post.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Beith v Largs actionBeith v Largs action (Image: Newsquest)

However, the arrival of Largs subs Jamie Martin and Liam Lapsley saw a sudden shift in play as Thistle were immediately looking more purposeful from midfield into attack, and there were claims for a spot kick as Craig Forbes went down under a lunge in the Beith box.

Will Sewell halved the deficit as got into a dangerous position in the box to convert from close range following a fast flowing move down the left.

Thistle came mighty close to an equaliser as Lapsley dived in following another dangerously directed cross from the left wing which Beith's Stott just managed to scramble around the post, and from the resultant corner kick, Liam Lapsley shaved the crossbar with a stunning volley.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Stott saves from Lapsley effort in dramatic second halfStott saves from Lapsley effort in dramatic second half (Image: Newsquest)

There was a sense that Largs were really in this match and it could turn at any moment, but a free kick was awarded to Beith after an injury, and after a three-minute delay, Largs were caught caught, as the set piece by Carlo Monti was headed home by Diver at the back post to complete his hat-trick on 76 minutes.

It was a cruel blow for Thistle given how much battling spirit they had put into the second half and seemingly had the upper hand.

Beith boss Chris Strain was sent to the stands after some heated exchanges on the field of play.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Yellow card for Thistle's Craig ForbesYellow card for Thistle's Craig Forbes (Image: Newsquest)

The Garnock Valley side had their tails back up and could have further added to their lead with Largs keeper Joe Wilton having to make two marvellous stops, including one from a McGlinchey free kick. 

Largs never gave up the ghost and had further chances themselves with sub and new signing Darryl Duffy impressively holding off a defender to fire in angled drive past the keeper which was dramatically cleared off the line.
Beith rounded off the scoring with a Largs own goal after a fast paced cross from the right on 87 minutes. 

It ended up as a repeat of last season's scoreline between the sides at Bellsdale - and certainly was an all out attacking second half from both sides making for a dramatic encounter for both sets of supporters.

Largs will be looking for the swift return of Ryan McCreath to shore up Thistle's leaky defence - while for Beith their dominant displays continue with Diver taking all the plaudits for a perfect hat-trick of left foot, right foot and header, but it was solid team performance all round from Strain's side.

BEITH: Stott, McGlinchey, Noble, Rough, O'Neill, Scullion, Monti, Frize, Diver, Monk, Mason. Subs; Barclay, Emodi, Burns, McWilliams, Scott, Rossiter.
LARGS: Wilton, McLeod, Davidson, Tennant, Hughes, Faulds, Forbes, McBryde, Sewell, Adam, McGrath. Subs: Duffy, Lapsley, Martin, Devine, McLean, Clark.