THE fate of the West of Scotland Football League’s Premier Division title is no nearer to being resolved after two of the main protagonists shared the spoils at the weekend – with a fascinating, and in all likelihood nail-biting, climax in prospect in the final few weeks.

Saturday’s 1-1 draw between Auchinleck Talbot and Beith at Beechwood keeps both teams right in the mix – but hands neither of them a clear advantage, with the Bellsdale Park side just two points ahead of Tommy Sloan’s Talbot squad and with both sides having nine matches left to play

Chris Strain’s side, though, will probably be the happier of the two after coming from behind to take a point away from home against a Talbot side who have at least three cup ties to play in addition to those nine league games; Scott Schoneville’s low drive gave the home team a 10th-minute advantage, but Evan Dunne headed home the equaliser on the stroke of half-time, and in spite of their efforts in the second half neither side was able to conjure up the goal that might have earned them all three points.

The stalemate at Beechwood means Darvel are now just a point behind Talbot in the standings, albeit with one more game played than both Talbot and Beith, after Tony McInally’s men strolled to an impressive 5-0 win away to managerless Cumnock. Former Nock striker Jordan Moore led the way with a hat-trick while Stephen Bronsky and Reegan Aitken were also on target at Townhead Park.

Beith, Talbot and Darvel remain third, fourth and fifth in the table, behind St Cadoc’s and Clydebank – though the three Ayrshire title hopefuls were given a further boost as results filtered through on Saturday afternoon when it was confirmed that Clydebank had suffered a surprise defeat away to Troon.



Logan Smith’s header midway through the second half sealed all three points for the Seasiders at Portland Park and made it nine points from a possible 12 for Jimmy Kirkwood’s men as they put further light between themselves and the top flight drop zone.

Glenafton Athletic were Saturday’s other big winners in the battle to avoid relegation courtesy of a 4-2 win away to an Irvine Meadow side who now look all but doomed to spending next season in the second tier.

The game was a close one until the final 15 minutes, with Jack McDowall and debutant Thomas Cruden finding the net for Medda either side of goals from Michael Moffat and Dylan O’Kane for the visitors, before a Shuggy Kerr penalty and a late fourth by Gary Fraser secured the points for Glens as Ryan Caddis’s men chalked up a second successive away win.

No top flight teams will have as hectic a run-in to the season as Hurlford United, though Darren Henderson’s men won’t take much consolation from knowing that they’ll only have to worry about their 11 remaining league fixtures in the season’s final six weeks following a 2-1 defeat on Saturday in the quarter-final of the West of Scotland Cup against a Pollok side who will now travel to Beechwood Park to face Talbot in the last four this weekend.

Kilwinning Rangers remain right in the mix in the fight for promotion from the First Division, though if Chris Aitken’s men do miss out when the dust settles in the middle of May, they might well know where the blame lies; Saturday’s 2-1 loss at home to fellow contenders Rutherglen Glencairn was Buffs’ fourth defeat on home soil since the turn of the year, with Mark McLuckie’s strike on 87 minutes proving too little too late for the hosts.

Ayr Advertiser: Kilwinning Rangers and Largs Thistle were among the seven Ayrshire sides to book their places in

Colin Spence's Kilbirnie Ladeside began 2024 in a rich vein of form, though that's now little more than a distant memory after the Blasties tumbled to a second successive home defeat, Scott Lewis scoring both the hosts' goals in a 3-2 defeat against Drumchapel United that also featured a second-half red card for Jamie Ballantyne.

Maybole, meanwhile, gave their hopes of avoiding relegation back into the third tier a huge boost with victory away to bottom dogs Neilston; Jake Graham scored the only goal at Brig o’ Lea as the Bole picked up only their second win of 2024 to open up a five-point gap between themselves and third-bottom Cambuslang.

Whoever takes the drop out of the second tier at the end of the season, though, one of the teams making the move in the opposite direction has been confirmed after Ardrossan Winton Rovers secured promotion from the Second Division on Saturday.

Having missed out the previous week when nearest rivals Caledonian Locomotive picked up full points, on Saturday there was to be no denying Gavin Friels’ men, with Ryan Wilson netting twice and Blair Docherty also finding the net in the 3-0 win away to Larkhall Thistle that confirmed back-to-back promotions for the Winton Park side.



Further down the Second Division table, it wasn’t such a good day for the two other Ayrshire sides in action; Muirkirk trailed promotion-chasing Vale of Clyde 3-0 at the break at Burnside Park, and ended up losing 4-3 despite Ruairidh Currie’s double and a William Dawson strike after the break, while Craigmark Burntonians were overtaken by St Anthony’s in the standings after losing 2-0 to the Govan side at Station Park.

In the Third Division, Dalry Thistle began eating into their significant end-of-season fixture backlog after transferring their home match against struggling West Park United to the Ian Cashmore Memorial Park in Kilwinning – and it’s a ground Chris Wilson and his players may well want to return to in future weeks after they came from 2-0 behind early on to win 3-2, taking them up to 12th place in the table.

Girvan, meanwhile, remain mired in the bottom three after a 3-1 defeat to Finnart at Hamilton Park, extending a winless home run for Chris Flanagan’s men that stretches back seven games to the middle of November.



Lugar Boswell Thistle saw their Fourth Division promotion charge put on hold after a waterlogged pitch forced the postponement of their home game against Royal Albert; that left Eglinton as the only Ayrshire side in action in the bottom tier on Saturday, though it wasn’t a great day for the Jousters, who lost 3-0 away to promotion contenders Thorn Athletic.