THE Scottish Junior Cup could be on its way to a new trophy room in a few weeks’ time after Darvel held off a brave fightback by East Ayrshire rivals Auchinleck Talbot to secure their place in this season’s final.

Tony McInally’s men went into the deciding 90 minutes with a 2-0 advantage after the first leg at Beechwood Park seven days earlier, which meant Talbot knew they had to strike first to have any chance of turning the tie around – and that’s exactly what they did when Aiden Wilson found the net with a stunning strike midway through the first half at Recreation Park.

Tarek Abed briefly thought he’d levelled the tie for Talbot three minutes after the interval, only to see the linesman’s flag cut short his celebrations – and though Tommy Sloan’s side went on to dominate the second half, as they had much of the first, the Darvel defence stood firm as the Recreation Park men made it through to only their second Junior Cup final in the club’s history and setting off dreams of going one better than in the 1976 final when they lost to Bo’ness.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Darvel held off a brave Talbot fightback to book their place in the Junior Cup final, where they'll take on Arthurlie in JuneDarvel held off a brave Talbot fightback to book their place in the Junior Cup final, where they'll take on Arthurlie in June (Image: Craig McGhee/Auchinleck Talbot FC)

There they’ll take on an Arthurlie side looking for only their third win in the tournament’s history, the Barrhead men having made it through thanks to a 2-1 second-leg win, and 3-2 aggregate victory, over big-spending Johnstone Burgh on Saturday evening.

Darvel could reach their second cup final of the season later this week when they take on First Division Shotts Bon Accord for the right to face Pollok in the West of Scotland Cup final this weekend.

Talbot, meanwhile, have only the Premier Division title left to fight for – though the league crown looks increasingly like it’s Beith’s to lose after Chris Strain’s men moved to the top of the standings on Saturday.

The Bellsdale men had to work hard for the points after falling behind to Michael Mullen’s early strike for Hurlford at Blair Park, but Evan Dunne levelled before the interval and Alan Docherty’s second-half winner took all three points back to Blair Park.

Beith now lead Clydebank on goal difference at the top, but Strain’s side have five games to play and a maximum points haul of 66 to aim for; Talbot, currently 12 points behind Beith, have eight games left and can’t amass more than 63 points, while Clydebank’s final potential points tally is a maximum of 57.



At the other end of the table, Irvine Meadow now know for certain that they’ll be playing First Division football next season; their relegation was confirmed after a 1-0 defeat at home to Largs Thistle, with Will Sewell scoring the only goal as the Barrfields men made it five wins on the bounce.

Troon secured their top flight status for another year after Kyle Gilroy’s double in a 2-0 win over Glenafton at Portland Park that ended the New Cumnock side’s six-match unbeaten run; Glens remain fourth from bottom and still at risk of relegation, though their survival hopes were given a boost when news came through that the team immediately below them in the standings, Rob Roy, had lost 4-1 at home to Cumnock. 

Callan Veitch, Findlay Frye, Luke Watt and Allan Mackenzie were the scorers for the Townhead Park side, who unveiled former Stenhousemuir boss Stephen Swift as their new manager on Sunday evening.

In the First Division, Whitletts Vics’ survival hopes are now hanging by a thread after a 4-2 loss at home to Shotts that leaves the New Voluntary Park side seven points adrift of safety with just three games remaining; Kilbirnie Ladeside, by contrast, are looking to finish the season strongly after following up their derby defeat of Kilwinning last weekend with a 4-1 victory over Thorniewood at New Douglas Park on Friday, John Scullion netting a brace while Lewis Crawford and Scott Lewis also found the net.

Craigmark Burntonians, meanwhile, are now in real danger of dropping into the fourth tier after a seventh straight defeat saw the Dalmellington men fall into the Second Division relegation zone; East Ayrshire rivals Muirkirk Juniors were the latest to get the better of the managerless Station Park side, with Jake Lewis, Jamie McDermott and Ethan Brew the men on target on derby day at Burnside Park in the Kirk’s last home match of the season.

Dalry Thistle’s slim hopes of promotion from the Third Division suffered a blow after a 3-2 loss to leaders Lanark in the Jags’ first game at Merksworth Park since early February, with the Yowes turning around a 2-1 interval deficit after Jamie Gray and Aaron Millar found the net for the hosts.

At the foot of the fourth tier, Girvan remain stuck in the bottom three, a point adrift of safety, after losing 2-1 away to Lesmahagow; bottom dogs Kello Rovers still need a miracle to avoid dropping in to the bottom tier, but not for the first time this season the Nithside Park men demonstrated they aren’t going anywhere without a fight, with their 3-1 win at home to promotion-chasing Finnart possibly their most impressive result of a challenging campaign.



Liam Davis’s two goals for Eglinton earned him the man-of-the-match accolade after the Kilwinning side drew 3-3 away to Newmains United, with Keir Milliken the Jousters’ other scorer; sadly for Saltcoats Vics, there was to be no upset in their ‘top against bottom’ fixture away to Glenvale, with the Paisley side, who had confirmed promotion seven days earlier, staying on course for the championship after an 8-0 win at McKenna Park.