GLENAFTON Athletic boss Ryan Caddis has hailed a "whole club" effort after watching the New Cumnock side secure Premier Division safety.

The Glens made sure of their place in the top tier for 2024-25 in memorable fashion with a 5-0 derby win at home to Cumnock on Friday.

It was nervy first half hour at Loch Park but the New Cumnock side seized the initiative when Ollie Rowe headed home before half time.

Caddis' side doubled their lead in the second half when Cumnock's Alan Cook saw red as he gave away a penalty.

Cumnock Chronicle: Glenafton secured safety with a 5-0 win over Cumnock on Friday, May 10, night.

Hugh Kerr converted from the spot, paving the way for Alex McWaters and Michael Moffat to add some gloss to the scoreline before Kerr's second penalty of the evening rounded off a memorable win.

Three nights earlier, Caddis's men had seen their survival hopes hit by a 3-1 loss at home to St Cadoc's - and the manager admitted he was concerned in the opening stages on Friday that his players might be overcome by nerves.

Cumnock Chronicle: Glenafton Athletic confirmed top flight safety with Friday night's 5-0 win at home to Cumnock

“I thought in the first 15-20 minutes we were very nervy," Caddis admitted.

"I think we were letting the occasion play us rather than playing the occasion.

“I spoke to the boys before the game. I wasn’t going to sugar coat it: this was massive.

“When we scored, it seemed to settle us a wee bit. After the second one, with the boy getting sent off, we ran away comfortable winners.

“I’d have taken 1-0, let alone five, but it was good to finally secure that place in the Premier Division for next year.

“It’s been a tough couple of months, it’s been very nervy and really stressful – I’ll take a wee bit of down time and go again.”

The Glens boss, who only took over in late November when the club had just nine points on the board, said the three players he added during the mid-season transfer window had played a major role in the turnaround that saw them pick up 24 points after his arrival.

Cumnock Chronicle: Glenafton secured safety with a 5-0 win over Cumnock on Friday, May 10, night.

"It wasn’t ideal coming in," he admitted. "There wasn’t much left budget-wise.

“I felt we needed energy in the team, we were seriously lacking that. We brought in the two Cammys [Crooks and Ross] and Hugh Kerr which added energy and legs to the team.

“It was the old cliché; we went one game at a time. We’ve had bumps in the road like the 9-0 defeat at Beith, but the squad burst themselves to get the points we needed to stay in the league.”

But while it was the players on the park who picked up the points under his stewardship, Caddis took time to single out those behind the club who he says played a big role in the successful survival mission.

He continued: “The whole club, from the people in the background, the committee, the hospitality team and the ladies that do the food - from top to bottom they have been absolutely fantastic with me and my coaching staff.

“Without them we would never have got to secure a place in the league.

“I’ve also got to thank the players. I can put a plan in place, but they need to follow it out – and they did.

“For the club and the community, I know how much it means, I’m delighted for them more than anything.”

And though Caddis says next season isn't quite at the forefront of his mind just yet, he admitted there will be change.

Goalkeeper David Markey and defender Michael McMullin have already asked to leave the club, though the Glens boss is content he will be able to assemble a squad with an eye on climbing the table in 2024-25.

Cumnock Chronicle: Glenafton secured safety with a 5-0 win over Cumnock on Friday, May 10, night.

He said: “For next season, I’ve spoken to boys and now I know what division we’re going to be in and I can go and revisit that.

“We’ve got boys leaving, which is natural. They’re great boys that have played a big part in keeping the club in the league.

“We’ll try and bring in certain types and certain characters to fit the way I want to work.

“We will make a changing room as strong and as tight knit as we possibly can.”

And Caddis says he expects the top flight will be even tougher next season with Drumchapel United, Shotts Bon Accord and Johnstone Burgh making the step up from the First Division.

"The league is getting better and better every year, and it’s getting tougher every year as well," he said.

“The teams coming in are coming in with bigger budgets, and it’s just making it harder to get players in.

“That’s part and parcel of the game, and in the end up I just need to see what I can do best for Glenafton.”

Glenafton's season concludes when they host Darvel at Loch Park on Wednesday, May 15 (KO 7.30pm).