BEITH Juniors’ hopes of ending the season with a league and cup double were left in tatters on Saturday – but Darvel’s hopes of glory on three fronts remain very much alive.

The West of Scotland Cup last eight tie between two of Ayrshire’s biggest guns promised plenty – and it didn’t disappoint as Tony McInally’s men squeaked through in dramatic fashion in front of a big crowd at Bellsdale Park.

Aaron Mason’s shot squirmed through Vale keeper Andy Wilson’s fingers to give Beith the first-half advantage, but Graham Wilson’s header levelled it up – before the former Auchinleck Talbot man was shown a red card just past the hour.

Wilson redeemed himself with a superb save to keep out Carlo Monti’s penalty for Beith two minutes later – and Chris Strain’s men were just seconds from victory against 10 men when Craig Moore’s injury-time header took the tie to penalties.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Darvel edged out Beith on penalties after a dramatic cup tie at Bellsdale ParkDarvel edged out Beith on penalties after a dramatic cup tie at Bellsdale Park (Image: Stephen Kerr)

Darvel thought they’d won it after Wilson made his second save of the shootout to keep out Beith’s fourth attempt, but the referee ordered a retake; the hosts converted, but in the first round of sudden death it was the visitors who held their nerve, with Ross Caldwell slotting home the deciding kick to earn Darvel a semi-final tie with Shotts Bon Accord.

And there was no shortage of drama in Saturday’s league fixtures either – not least at New Tinto Park, where Auchinleck Talbot kept their title challenge on track with a last-gasp victory over St Cadoc’s.

Two goals in two minutes by Connor Boyd and Kyle McAvoy had Talbot ahead at the break, but the home side, still with title ambitions of their own, were level within eight minutes of the restart through Lewis McTaggart and Neil McLaughlin.

Ewan Thomson put Talbot back in front from the penalty spot, but still St Cadoc’s wouldn’t lie down, with McTaggart setting up Bob McHugh to make it 3-3 – only for Jamie Glasgow to send the travelling supporters wild when he slid in at the back post to knock home a 91st-minute winner.

The result sets up a tasty league clash between Darvel and Talbot at Recreation Park this Wednesday (March 27) – ahead of the East Ayrshire rivals’ two-legged Junior Cup semi-final in April.

And the drama continued at Townhead Park, where Glenafton Athletic secured a potentially priceless win in their battle against relegation thanks to a 2-1 win against local rivals Cumnock.

Craig Pettigrew and Findlay Frye exchanged goals in the closing stages of the first half, but the Glens took all three points back to Loch Park thanks to Sam McKee’s cross-cum-shot midway through the second half – a result followed by the announcement on Sunday evening that Murdo MacKinnon had resigned as Cumnock manager after just six months in the post.

The win takes Glens to within one point of fellow strugglers Kirkintilloch Rob Roy, who were beaten by Will Sewell’s first-half penalty for Largs Thistle at Barrfields – though Ryan Caddis’s men have two games in hand on the Rabs, the first of them a real six-pointer against second bottom Arthurlie on Tuesday night.



Meanwhile, Troon took another huge step towards Premier Division safety with their second win in eight days – but it’s looking like curtains for bottom dogs Irvine Meadow after Jaime Gallagher’s double gave the Seasiders the derby spoils from a 2-0 win at Meadow Park.

Hurlford United saw yet another game at Blair Park fall victim to the weather, with their West of Scotland Cup tie at home to Pollok having to be postponed on Saturday morning due to a waterlogged pitch; instead the two sides agreed to play each other in a league game at Newlandsfield, but the switch didn’t help Darren Henderson’s men as Lok eased to a 3-1 win.

Kilwinning Rangers moved to within two points of First Division leaders Petershill after a dramatic 3-2 win away to Junior Cup semi-finalists Johnstone Burgh; the Buffs led twice, through Gavin Millar and Blair MacIntyre, at Keanie Park, and though the hosts’ Jason Naismith saw red for a late challenge on Millar, Ross McKenzie levelled on 86 minutes.

But Buffs wouldn’t be denied and Cammy MacNair snatched the win at the death for Chris Aitken’s men – with the defeat prompting the Renfrewshire side to announce the departure on Sunday of manager Jamie McKim and his coaching team of David Hill, Davie James and Bernie McPhee.

The only other First Division tie with Ayrshire involvement on Saturday saw Kilbirnie Ladeside draw 0-0 away to St Roch’s – but there was no shortage of goals at the top of the Second Division as Ardrossan Winton Rovers moved to within touching distance of promotion with a 4-2 win at home to Muirkirk.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Ardrossan Winton Rovers moved to within touching distance of promotion after beating Muirkirk Juniors 4-2Ardrossan Winton Rovers moved to within touching distance of promotion after beating Muirkirk Juniors 4-2 (Image: Charlie Gilmour)

Winton could have had promotion confirmed if other results had gone their way on Saturday, but Gavin Friels’ men will have to keep the champagne on ice until at least this weekend after second top Caledonian Locomotive eased to a 4-0 win at home to Craigmark Burntonians – the heaviest league defeat of the season for Ian Nixon’s men.

And Bonnyton Thistle kept their survival hopes very much alive, climbing two places in the table after a 3-2 win at home to promotion-chasing Cumbernauld, Kieran Murphy scoring the second-half winner for the Kilmarnock side.

There was no Ayrshire action in the Third Division after Dalry Thistle, Irvine Vics and Ardeer Thistle all saw their games called off by waterlogged pitches on Saturday morning – while in the bottom tier, a second half fightback was too little too late for Saltcoats Victoria, who lost 3-2 away to Easterhouse on Friday night, Ewan Farrell and Eric Andrew the men on target for the Campbell Park side.