ARDROSSAN Winton Rovers boss Gavin Friels says he has no doubt his side could challenge for a place in the top division of the West of Scotland Football League.

The Winton boss was speaking after his side caused what many considered to be the 'shock of the round' by knocking Kilwinning Rangers out of the West of Scotland Cup on Saturday.

Friels and his players knew they faced a tough task against a Buffs team who had brushed aside Albion Rovers seven days earlier - winning 3-0 against a Coatbridge side who were competing in the SPFL only last season.

But Winton proved more than a match for Chris Aitken's men, running out comfortable 4-1 winners at Buffs Park.

Goals from Ryan Wilson, Mark Curragh and an Aidan Ferris double handed the Winton Park side the win after they had fallen behind early on to a Jordan Stuart strike for the home side.

And while it may have been a surprise result to many outsiders, an elated Friels said it didn't come as a shock to him.

“I was surprised with how comfortably we saw the game out in the second half," he told the Herald.

“But we’re on a good run, we’ve got a good side, and the couple of good additions we made a few months ago has bolstered the squad with the missing ingredients we were looking for.

“I never really concentrate on what league we are in, we’re just looking to get in the best players we can.

“I have no doubt that the team is capable of challenging at the top end of the league above.

“It’s quite good that we’ve started lower down because it means the team can gel better over a period of time."

Now, Friels is hoping his side can continue their good run of form - with Saturday's victory being Winton's fifth in a row.

Recent league successes have earned Winton a 10-point lead at the top of the Second Division - with fifth-tier Thorn Athletic next up for the Ardrossan side in the third round of the West Cup on December 9.

"We’re a match for most teams," he said, "but it’s easier for us as underdogs to raise our game in a one-off match.

“Whether we are able to do that consistently and challenge over a season at that level – hopefully by next year we will be able to tell that.

“We’re improving all the time and hopefully when the time comes next year we will have improved again as a team.

“We’re quite a new team. We’ve had a year and a half of building the base of it, and then all the players that have come in have fitted in well at the club.

“It’s a difficult job for me to try and pick an 11, but it’s a good difficult.”

Unsurprisingly, in view of their recent form, Friels says confidence is running high in the Winton squad just now - something he hopes can be maintained for the rest of the campaign.

"Football’s all about confidence and belief," he added.

"I’m always telling the players we’re good enough.

“They were told at training this would be a benchmark for how far we’ve come and where we’re going.

“First and foremost we’re looking to try and build a big gap between us and fourth place in the league – that’s the bread and butter.

“But it was nice to get a wee bit of relief in a cup game and play with a bit of freedom, and hopefully it leads into a good run.”

The manager says he is acutely aware that Winton will now have a target on their back - but believes his squad is well equipped to handle the pressure.

"We don’t get carried away," he added. "There’s no big celebration from us in the changing room after it. We’re totally focussed on what we are doing.

“The players are hungry just to play. We keep it as low-key as we can. The boys celebrate at the weekend but come in Monday and their full focus is on the next game.

"It’s just one game at a time.

“There’s no great reward when you’re up at the top. You need to concentrate on what you’re doing.

"You’re only up there to get shot down. You need to be on it at all times.”