REIGNING champions Beith gave their hopes of retaining their Premier Division title a huge shot in the arm on Saturday.

With two wins, two draws and two defeats to their name since the turn of the year, the Bellsdale Park side needed a big performance and a big result when they hosted Darvel on Saturday – and Chris Strain’s men duly delivered, with Ciaran Diver’s first-half brace and Aaron Mason’s close-range second-half strike enough to secure full points in the face of Jordan Moore’s double for the visitors.

The win keeps Beith five points behind leaders Clydebank, who deepened Troon’s relegation fears with a 5-1 victory at Holm Park, Leyton Dunlop’s strike the only consolation for the Seasiders – though Beith have five games in hand on the table-topping Bankies.

Also with five games in hand on the leaders, but a further four points behind Beith, are Auchinleck Talbot, who made it 10 wins in 11 matches with a 2-0 defeat of Hurlford at Beechwood Park, Ewan Thomson and Connor Boyd finding the net as Talbot followed up their Junior Cup last eight win over Ford last month with another home victory, extending an unbeaten run on their own turf that now stretches back to the middle of August.

Cumnock and Largs Thistle shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw at Townhead Park, Allan MacKenzie opening the scoring for the hosts early on before Will Sewell’s header on 55 minutes earned Largs a point.

Ayr Advertiser: Cumnock Juniors drew first blood at home to Largs but had to settle for a share of the pointsCumnock Juniors drew first blood at home to Largs but had to settle for a share of the points (Image: Newsquest)

At the wrong end of the table, Michael Moffat’s penalty secured what could yet prove to be a crucial point for Glenafton in the battle for top flight survival, with the veteran’s spot-kick enough to earn a 1-1 draw away to fellow strugglers Rob Roy and keeping the gap between the two sides to three points, with the Loch Park side having a game in hand on their opponents.

Time, though, appears to be running out for Irvine Meadow, for whom Greg Cree’s late strike was the only crumb of comfort in a 4-1 defeat away to Benburb, with Ben Carson’s side now five points adrift of Glenafton and Arthurlie at the bottom.

Mark Lamont’s second-half double kept Kilwinning Rangers right in the First Division promotion mix; the Buffs’ 2-0 win over bottom dogs Neilston at Brig o’ Lea keeps them tied with Drumchapel United and Blantyre on 40 points, five behind leaders Petershill, and with three of their next four games at home, Chris Aitken’s men look well set up to be involved in the fight right through to the final day of the season.

Colin Spence’s Kilbirnie Ladeside saw their eight-match unbeaten run ended by a St Roch’s side who made it four wins in a row thanks to Paul Brennan’s second-half goal at Valefield Park – while Maybole remain perilously close to the drop zone after David McKenna’s winner in added time condemned the Bole to a 3-2 loss away to Renfrew.

Ardrossan Winton Rovers’ march to the Second Division title now looks to be well and truly back on course, with Aidan Ferris scoring two in two second-half minutes to add to Ryan Wilson’s first-half lob as Gavin Friels’ men won 3-0 away to Maryhill; in contrast, Craigmark saw their outside chances of having a say in the promotion run-in suffer a damaging blow with a 2-0 defeat at home to Cumbernauld.

Among the leading contenders for WoSFL ‘result of the day’ on Saturday was surely the 2-1 victory for Girvan 2-1 win away to Third Division leaders Vale of Leven, with Euan Smith netting the late winning goal as the Hamilton Park side stunned their hosts by coming from behind with two goals in the final 15 minutes at Millburn Park.

Ardeer Thistle also secured a huge victory by the odd goal in three, with substitute Robert Frew scoring the second-half winner as Sean Kenney’s men got their hands on a potentially priceless three points at home to North Ayrshire rivals Dalry Thistle – while bottom dogs Kello Rovers continue to show that they won’t go down without a fight, with the Kirkconnel side extending their good recent record with a 2-1 victory at home to Kilsyth Athletic which makes it one defeat in five for the Nithside Park men.

Ayr Advertiser: Lugar Boswell Thistle defeated Fourth Division leaders Glenvale 2-1 away from home to make it eight wins in their last nine matches.Lugar Boswell Thistle defeated Fourth Division leaders Glenvale 2-1 away from home to make it eight wins in their last nine matches. (Image: Charlie Gilmour)

Having struggled for consistency in the first half of the campaign, Lugar Boswell Thistle are now by some distance the Fourth Division’s form team: since ending 2023 with victory away to Ayrshire rivals Eglinton, the Jaggy Bunnets have won eight games out of nine, with their latest victory arguably the most impressive of the lot, Ewan McIver scoring twice in the first half for a 2-1 win at leaders Glenvale that saw the Rosebank Park side climb to fourth place.

Greig Richmond scored the late winning goal as Eglinton came from a goal down to win 3-2 at home to Newmains, while a good day all round for the Ayrshire clubs in the bottom tier was rounded out by Saltcoats Vics, who mounted a stunning second-half fightback to turn a 3-1 interval deficit into a 5-3 victory over BSC Glasgow at Campbell Park, thanks in part to a Euan Anderson double.