AUCHINLECK Talbot’s bid to regain the Scottish Junior Cup will fail unless they improve on their last-16 performance, Allan McLuckie has warned.

Talbot made it through to the quarter-finals of the tournament after a 4-1 win away to Vale of Leven on Saturday – but it was a tough 90 minutes at Millburn Park, with the Third Division hosts levelling on the stroke of half-time shortly after Jamie Glasgow's opener.

McLuckie and Talbot manager Tommy Sloan switched things around early in the second half, and it was the substitutes who eventually made the difference, with Kyle McAvoy and Brian Boylan at last putting clear blue water between the Vale and their visitors in the final 20 minutes before a third substitute, Nathan Lennox, wrapped up the win late on.

The result earns Talbot a home tie with East Ayrshire rivals Hurlford in the last eight in February after the Blair Park side staged a memorable late comeback to overcome Caledonian Locomotives.

Speaking to the club’s media team after Saturday’s match, the Talbot assistant manager said: “The performance was way below par in the first half. We played better in the second half; obviously we scored four goals, but at the end of the day we need to play better than we played today.

“Last week we were slow starting and finished strongly against Troon, and we said ‘look, we need to start the way we’re finishing games’. But unfortunately it just didn’t pan out that way.

“Hurlford are a very capable and quality side so that’ll be tough. If we turn up and play like we did today there’s no doubt, we’re not going to beat them, so we need to improve.”

Looming rather larger for Talbot is another game against East Ayrshire opposition – this time Darvel, in their last league fixture of the year, at Recreation Park on December 30.

The Vale also booked their place in the Junior Cup’s last eight on Saturday – in their case with a 4-0 win at home to Larkhall – and, in a similar fashion to the Hurlford cup tie, McLuckie says he knows Talbot will need to be at the top of their game, against a Darvel side who won 2-1 at Beechwood in August, if they’re to chalk up what would be a 12th win in 13 matches.

“It’s a big game to finish off the year with,” he added.

“They came down to our bit and turned us over, so we need to go there and be positive and take three points.”

Watch the full post-match interview with McLuckie, along with highlights from the game, at