ARDEER Thistle boss Sean Kenney said he "couldn't be any prouder" of his players after they put Beith to the sword on Saturday.

The West of Scotland Football League (WoSFL) Third Division side faced Premier League champions Beith in the South Challenge Cup first round in what was very much viewed as a David vs Goliath tie.

It was a match which home side Ardeer eventually lost 3-2 in extra time - but that was far from the tale of the match.

Thistle more than matched the current top division front runners as a fantastic Stewart Morgan finish and acrobatic Ryan Singleton effort put the Stevenston side 2-0 up after 20 minutes.

And while many may have thought they would be turned over after the impressive start, they did not concede until the 70-minute mark thanks to some brave last ditch defending and some outstanding goalkeeping from Sean Summers.

But Aaron Mason's strike from distance got Beith back within touching distance and only minutes before the clock hit 90, another blocked effort fell kindly to half-time substitute Paul Frize, who slotted home the equaliser.

It was a cruel blow for Ardeer who had come close to adding a third through Jack Louden, when they still held a 2-0 lead, thought the full back was denied by a strong save from Jamie Walker.

At 2-1, Stewart Morgan was inches away from adding his second of the afternoon as he raced in on goal.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Ardeer celebrate after Stewart Morgan's opener.Ardeer celebrate after Stewart Morgan's opener. (Image: Beith Juniors Media)

Though as the match went to extra-time, despite holding out for the first period, Thistle's resolute defence was eventually broken down when a Paul Frize effort which Summers seemed to have covered was deflected past the home keeper by his own player.

Beith saw out the ten minutes that remained, including periods of keeping the ball in the corner, to eventually come through the tie despite the almighty scare.

And while the crowd and Ardeer players were clearly disappointed at the result, boss Sean Kenney remained upbeat when he spoke to the Herald after the game.

He said: “I couldn’t have asked for any more from the boys today, they were incredible and I couldn’t be any prouder of them.

“The only thing that I take away from it is pride, I’m absolutely devastated for the boys because the shift they’ve put in they deserved more out the game.

“The champions are keeping the ball in the corner to waste time against us at the end – I think that speaks volumes.

“It’s sore but as I’ve said to them, we can build on that, there’s things we’ve got to take out of that today.

“People hide away sometimes but our boys never done that today, everyone of the boys stood up to it and went and competed.”

The Thistle boss also had a feeling that if not for a lack of fit and available players, the result could have been even better.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Ryan Singleton scored Ardeer's second.Ryan Singleton scored Ardeer's second. (Image: Beith Juniors Media)

Kenney commented: “A lack of substitutes killed us today, that’s the problem, we’ve got nine injured and one suspended.

“It’s a freak thing but I think you see that today, the boys are dead on their feet and you need someone to come off the bench and help them and it’s not happened.

“The boys that have played I can’t fault at all."

And though many may have considered the match a freak result, to Kenney it was no surprise.

He said: “When the draw gets made, nobody gives you a chance. That was my challenge today, trying to get the boys to believe in themselves.

"I believe my boys should be going up and one day playing against these players week in, week out.

“We’ve still got a lot to learn but we had a chance today to go prove it, go make an impact, go compete against individuals who are top players."

And compete they did, leaving the Ardeer boss with plenty of positives to take away - which he hopes can translate into league form.

Kenney added: “The bottom line is, we believe in the process and we’re going to take massive amounts away from the game today.

“A lot of pride but we cannot let our standards drop now.

“We’ve shown that we’ve got quality, we’ve shown that we can play, we need to get players back from injury now and get stronger.”

Thistle will now return to league action away to Finnart on Saturday after starting their campaign with three draws, a loss and a win against Greenock on Wednesday night (August 16).

Kenney said: “We’re six games in and we’ve only lost one in 90 minutes. We’re six points off the top of the league.

“The thing with the league is everybody is cutting each others' legs, we’re not really getting people pulling away. It means we’re still amongst it.

“We’ve put two really good performances in this week, Wednesday they won against Greenock and then this.

“We’ve won the important one, the important one was Wednesday for me, today was a bonus.

“Nobody gave us a chance apart from the boys wearing red today and they showed that they are a talented bunch of boys.

“We’re in charge of what happens to us this season, how we want to go about it, the effort we put in, can we trust each other, can we show the quality.

“We can do anything we want this season and I don’t doubt the boys for a second.”