AUCHINLECK Talbot's hopes of winning the Premier Division title look to be all but over after a damaging defeat to East Ayrshire rivals Hurlford United.

It was always going to be a tough task for Tommy Sloan's side to catch reigning champions Beith Juniors, and the 3-2 loss to Darren Henderson's side on Wednesday night means Beith can clinch the title this weekend.

Talbot started well, with Ross Smith giving them a 1-0 lead after 13 minutes at Blair Park.

Despite Ally Love levelling the tie only minutes later, Auchinleck regained their lead on 25 minutes thanks to Luke Gillies.

But Love's labours bore fruit for the hosts as the former Dumbarton man levelled just three minutes later and went on to complete his hat-trick before the interval.

There would be no further scoring in the second half as Tommy Sloan's men were dealt a huge blow in their bid to catch and overhaul Beith - whose own 1-0 win away to Largs on Wednesday left them on the brink of a second successive title.

It was a step too far for Talbot in their third game in five days, but assistant boss Allan McLuckie refused to blame tiredness for the defeat.

Cumnock Chronicle: Talbot's title hopes are all but over after defeat at Blair Park.Credit: Craig McGhee

He told Talbot's media team: “We started brightly, but to be honest the three goals we lost were terrible.

“There definitely is a bit of fatigue but that doesn’t account for the three sloppy goals we lost.

“It was just poor defensive errors, the back four and the goalkeeper need to take responsibility for that.”


Beith now need only two points from their last two league games to win the title, and will finish the job if they defeat Troon at Bellsdale Park this Saturday, May 4.

Talbot's next fixture is their final home game of the season, also on May 4, against Pollok.

Both Saturday's games kick off at 2pm.