IF Beith Juniors didn’t already know they had a fight on their hands to retain their West of Scotland Football League Premier Division title, their opening league game of 2024 provided ample evidence that Chris Strain’s men won’t have it all their own way in the months ahead.

It all looked promising for Strain’s side when Andy Monk gave them the lead with just five minutes played against Hurlford at Bellsdale on Saturday, but Darren Henderson’s men refused to throw in the towel and after an entertaining clash with chances at both ends, Ally Love struck five minutes from time to ensure the match would end all square.

The dropped points mean Beith slip to third place in the Premier Division standings, with St Cadoc’s taking over in second spot after coasting to a 3-0 win at Irvine Meadow; Beith still have up to four games in hand on the teams around them, but a tough run of fixtures, with Auchinleck to come at Beechwood Park on Saturday and Clydebank due to visit Bellsdale at the start of February, look likely to put Strain’s squad to the test.

Saturday’s defeat to St Cadoc’s was a sixth loss on the spin for Medda and means Ben Carson is still looking for his first point since taking over in the Meadow Park hotseat last month.

Medda also saw the gap between them and their nearest rivals at the foot of the table grow from one point to three on Saturday after Ryan Caddis secured his first win as Glenafton manager – 2-1 away to Pollok.



Glens’ hopes were given a major boost when Pollok keeper Jordan Longmuir was sent off with half an hour played for handling the ball outside the box, but the game looked set to end all square after Adam Forde cancelled out Gary Fraser’s opener for Glens midway through the second half – only for veteran Michael Moffat to snatch a potentially priceless three points for the Loch Park side with an 89th-minute winner.

Auchinleck Talbot, meanwhile, went into their game at leaders Clydebank with a record of just one defeat in 12 – but Tommy Sloan’s men found Gordon Moffat’s table-toppers too tough a nut to crack, with Lee Gallacher’s wonder strike securing the points for the Holm Park side after Michael Wardrope cancelled out Adam Hodge’s opener.

The spoils were shared in an entertaining clash in the sunshine at Portland Park, with Kyle Gilroy scoring both goals for Troon in their 2-2 draw with Cumnock – while Largs Thistle stopped the rot of five losses in their last six games in all competitions, Darryl Duffy and Will Sewell the men on target as Stuart Davidson’s men came from behind to pick up their first league win since the end of October, 2-1 at Arthurlie.

Kilwinning Rangers also came from a goal down to win 2-1, with Graham Boyd converting an injury time penalty to secure all three points for Buffs away to Shotts Bon Accord as Chris Aitken’s men moved to within a point of First Division leaders Petershill - who are the visitors to Buffs Park this Saturday in what looks set to be a mouthwatering top-of-the-table clash.

Kilbirnie Ladeside continued the trend of Ayrshire sides coming from behind to win away from home, with Ryan Connelly scoring twice and Jon Scullion and Scott Lewis also on target as the Blasties won 4-2 away to Renfrew, having trailed 2-1 at the interval at New Western Park.

Maybole tumbled to a 3-0 defeat at home to an on-form Ashfield side who haven’t lost since early November – but hopes of a great escape are still very much alive at Whitletts, who, having had no league wins at all to their name at Christmas, now have three on the spin.



A 3-1 victory on Saturday at home to Neilston means that only goal difference now separates Mick McCann’s men and the Farmer’s Boys after Jordan Boyd’s brace and a glorious Louis Kerr free-kick ensured maximum points for Vics.

The best recent record of any team in the WoSFL, though, belongs to Ardrossan Winton Rovers, whose 3-0 win at home to Forth Wanderers was their eighth in a row in all competitions, keeping Gavin Friels’ men 13 points clear of their nearest challengers at the top of the Second Division.

Five different players found the net for Craigmark Burntonians on Saturday as Ian Nixon’s men followed up their West of Scotland Cup heroics against Irvine Meadow seven days earlier with a 5-2 league win at home to Glasgow Perthshire, while James Hazlett, Jamie McDermott and Ethan Brew were the scorers for Muirkirk in their 3-0 win away to Wishaw – though Gordon Pope was unable to follow up on his first win as Bonnyton Thistle boss last weekend as the Kilmarnock side lost 1-0 at Vale of Clyde.

Ardeer Thistle were Ayrshire’s only Third Division winners on Saturday, with Greg Kean, Jay McManus, Andy McGregor and Ryan Singleton on target as Sean Kenney’s side eased their relegation fears with a 4-1 win at Lesmahagow in what’s probably the most closely-contested of all the WoSFL’s five divisions, with just 15 points covering the teams from first to 15th in the table.

Alessandro Savarese and Ryan Morrow were unable to salvage a point for Irvine Vics at home to a Kilsyth Athletic side who were 3-0 up with less than half an hour to play, while Chris Wilson’s Dalry Thistle side are still looking for their first league win since the end of October after tumbling to a 2-0 defeat away to Lanark.

Girvan were beaten by the same score against West Park United at Huntershill, while just a few hundred yards away, Kello Rovers were unable to follow up their battling draw at home to league leaders Bellshill the previous week, with the Kirkconnel side losing 1-0 away to Finnart.

In the Fourth Division, Eglinton were unlucky to emerge empty-handed from their first match since the appointment of Dougie Taylor as co-manager alongside William Shearer, with Dylan McLintock scoring both the Jousters’ goals in their 3-2 defeat at home to East Kilbride Thistle.

But there was no shortage of smiles a few miles down the road at Campbell Park, where Saltcoats Vics picked up their first victory since Stevie Wilson took over in the manager’s hotseat in November.

John McLaughlan scored a hat-trick in the 4-0 win at home to Campbeltown Pupils that sees Vics climb off the bottom of the pile for the first time this season, with the Kintyre club now stuck at the foot of the table.

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Ayrshire WoSFL clubs' fixtures this Saturday, January 20, are as follows (KO 1.30pm unless otherwise stated).

Premier Division: Auchinleck Talbot v Beith (2pm), Cumnock v Clydebank (2pm), Glenafton v St Cadoc's, Kirkintilloch Rob Roy v Irvine Meadow, Largs Thistle v Pollok, Troon v Gartcairn (2pm).

First Division: Kilbirnie Ladeside v Drumchapel United, Kilwinning Rangers v Petershill, Neilston v Maybole, St Roch's v Whitletts.

Second Division: Bonnyton Thistle v Ardrossan Winton Rovers, Muirkirk v St Anthony's, Yoker Athletic v Craigmark.

Third Division: Ardeer v Finnart, Dalry v Port Glasgow, Girvan v Greenock, Kello Rovers v Irvine Vics.

Fourth Division: Carluke v Saltcoats, St Peter's v Eglinton, Lugar Boswell Thistle v Newmains.