THE Scottish Junior Cup has yet to be added to the roll of honour at Recreation Park – but the odds on that changing in the next few weeks have shortened dramatically after Darvel seized control of their all-East Ayrshire semi-final.

Tony McInally’s men will take a 2-0 lead into this weekend’s second leg at home to Auchinleck Talbot after goals from Jordan Moore and Graham Wilson gave the Vale a huge advantage on Friday night.

A well-worked move set up Moore for a fine finish seven minutes before the break, before a rash challenge by Neil Slooves inside the box paved the way for former Talbot striker Wilson to deservedly double the visitors’ advantage from the penalty spot.

Vale have only reached the final of the tournament once, in 1976, when they lost 3-0 to Bo'ness United at Hampden, but will now be most pundits' hot favourites to reach their second final, while Talbot face a huge uphill task if they're to keep alive their hopes of lifting the famous old trophy for a 15th time.

The second leg will be played at Recreation Park this Friday night, with the winner facing either Johnstone Burgh or Arthurlie in the final after the two Renfrewshire rivals drew 2-2 in the first leg of the other semi-final on Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Chris Strain’s Beith Juniors side look to be hitting form at just the right time in the battle for the Premier Division title after a 2-0 win at home to Benburb on Saturday propelled them closer to the summit.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Beith's Premier Division title tilt is gathering pace after their 2-0 win at home to BenburbBeith's Premier Division title tilt is gathering pace after their 2-0 win at home to Benburb (Image: Stephen Kerr)

Ewan Wilson set up Paul Frize and Danny O’Neill for the two goals on Saturday as Strain’s men moved to within four points of leaders Clydebank, and with five games in hand on the Bankies to boot.

And Beith’s hopes of retaining their title were given a boost by results elsewhere after third-top St Cadoc’s suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat at Hurlford, Jack Whittaker and Marc McKenzie finding the net as Darren Henderson’s men, who had been dragged towards the relegation scrap after a series of postponements through the winter, all but confirmed their top flight safety.

In the First Division, Kilwinning Rangers’ promotion hopes suffered a major blow when they tumbled to defeat in their North Ayrshire derby at home to Kilbirnie Ladeside.

Ben Lewis’s header gave Buffs the interval advantage, but the Blasties bounced back after the break and Chris Black levelled midway through the half before Alan Frizzell’s winner five minutes from time condemned Chris Aitken’s men to a third successive home defeat and saw them replaced in the top three by Rutherglen Glencairn.

At the other end of the table, Maybole’s survival is still far from assured after a 4-1 defeat away to Ashfield left the Ladywell men five points, but just one place, clear of the relegation zone, with a huge game looming at home to third-bottom Cambuslang on the penultimate weekend of the season.

And Whitletts Vics face a huge battle to retain their place in the second tier despite a battling 3-3 draw away to leaders Drumchapel United, a result which leaves the Ayr men seven points adrift of safety with four games to go.



Ardrossan Winton Rovers, having tied up promotion from the Second Division two weeks ago, now have their sights set on confirming the championship – though they’ll have to work a bit harder for the trophy than they might have hoped after a last-gasp winner gave second-top Vale of Clyde a 4-3 win at Winton Park on Saturday.

Third-top Cumbernauld United are coming up on the rails with games in hand, with the Guy’s Meadow side making it five wins from six with a 4-1 victory at home to Muirkirk on Saturday, Ruairidh Currie scoring the only goal for the Burnside Park men.

Craigmark Burntonians, meanwhile, also need a late season turnaround in form to ward off the spectre of relegation; the Station Park side announced last week that following the resignation of manager Ian Nixon at the beginning of the month, assistant boss Paul Gordon and coaches Lee Wright and Kieron McCrum would take the reins for the final few weeks of the season, but the interim regime didn’t get off to the best of starts, with Reece Wilson the Mark’s only scorer in the 3-1 defeat at home to Larkhall.

And Bonnyton Thistle continued their upturn in form of late by taking a point away to St Anthony’s, Kieran Murphy scoring for the visitors in the 1-1 draw at McKenna Park.

Dalry Thistle eased their lingering fears of being pulled into the Third Division relegation dogfight with a fine 3-1 win over Glasgow United in a game switched to Kilwinning Sports Club, with Jamie Catlow giving Chris Wilson’s men the interval advantage before Aaron Millar and Chris Love put the Jags out of sight in the second half.

Alessandro Savarese, Kevin Adam and Bobby Colligan found the net as Irvine Vics came from behind to win by the same score at home to struggling West Park United, ending a winless home run for Dougie MacDuff’s men that stretches back to January.

Girvan remain in the bottom three despite holding an impressive Greenock side to a 2-2 draw at Hamilton Park thanks to goals from Euan Smith and Sandy Robertson, but Kello Rovers’ drop into the bottom tier now looks all but inevitable after the Nithside Park men lost 3-1 at home to Port Glasgow.

A place in the top three of the Fourth Division remains frustratingly out of reach for Lugar Boswell Thistle; Jack Marks and Conan Mackin were their scorers in a 2-1 win in horrible conditions at home to BSC Glasgow as the Jaggy Bunnets extended their fine recent record to 10 wins and just one defeat in their last 12.



Wins for Rossvale and Thorn Athletic mean Lugar are still two points off the automatic promotion places, though the Rosebank Park side now face a simple equation: win their last three games and promotion will be confirmed, but any dropped points will leave them relying on results elsewhere.

Saltcoats Victoria, meanwhile, remain bottom of the heap after letting a two-goal advantage slip at home to Knightswood, with the winners’ goal coming from the penalty spot in the 84th minute.