Auchinleck Talbot overcame Glenafton 1-0 yesterday to win the Ardagh Glass Cup and send out a warning to all their Junior rivals in the process.

Talk on the terracings this season has reckoned Talbot are no longer the force they once were and even that most successful of gaffers Tommy Sloan has come in for flak.

However, he and his players provided the perfect retort to critics by getting hold of the first silverware of the season following a hard fought Meadow Park finale.

West Region leading lights Glenafton, with midfield playmaker Jambo McKerrnon pulling the strings, probably edged matters in an opening 45 minutes where a McKernon free kick just wide off the upright and a Michael McCann shot superbly thwarted  by a Willie Lyle block tackle were the nearest either side came to providing a goal for the near 1000 spectating throng.

And more of the same looked to be on the way as the Glens stayed on the ascendancy after the interval and came desperately close to scoring with woodwork denying both McCann and Dale Moore whose shot against the upright rebounded into the path of Joe Andrew.

His reactionary stab at the ball looked netbound until Bot goalkeeper Andy Leishman acrobatically changed direction and stretched his huge frame to fingertip the ball to safety.

Team boss Sloan admitted: “It was a quite incredible  save by big Andy and one that acted to not only take the sting out of Glenafton but to give us a lift  at the same time because we never gave them a look at goal from that point on.”

Auchinleck began to show more of an attacking threat with the trickery and movement of front pair Graham Wilson and Jamie Glasgow posing problems for the Glens backline.

And their concession of a corner kick to relieve a bout of pressure in 53 minutes led to the only goal of the game.

Glasgow’s high ball to the back post saw stopper Craig McCracken outjump his opposite number Ryan McChesney to power a downward header past helpless goalkeeper Bryan McGarritty. 

With their tails up, Talbot went looking for more goals and might have scored again but for Glasgow wastefully shooting from an acute angle when a pass across goal would have set up Wilson who was also left bemoaning his luck when a flighted free kick struck the bar with McGarritty beaten.

The final whistle saw the Talbot players celebrate with their supporters and gaffer Tucker while  Glens boss Craig McEwan reflected ruefully:

“We pride ourselves on getting clean sheets  and  the way we defend set pieces but today we didn’t do either.

“Goals win games and Talbot got the one that mattered today, but over the piece I felt we deserved to take the game to spot kicks at the very least.

“Losing a cup final is never easy to accept however we have to take it on the chin and I cannot help but think a massive test of character is now awaiting my Glenafton players ."

Their head-to-head  for the first silverware of the season saw the Ayrshire duo lose ground in the Super Premier Division title race after leading threesome Beith, Kilbirnie Ladeside and Kilwinning Rangers racked up impressive victories.

Early season frontunners Beith were back to their best in dishing out a 6-0 beating to Cumnock down at Townhead Park with David McKenna (2) , Keir Milliken , John Sheridan, Paul Frize and Darren Christie on target .

Budgie McGhie’s revamped Blasties remain second top of the pile thanks to John Sweeney and Peter McGill goals bringing a 2-1 triumph over Girvan for whom Darren Mitchell’s late goal acted to put a better complexion on the scoreline.

Elsewhere, Ryan Nisbet’s second half hat-trick enabled the Buffs to run out 4-1 winners against an Arthurlie side that had reached the halfway stage with the scores tied after Alex Wyper’s goal cancelled out Craig Pettigrew’s free kick opener for the visitors.

And although the final result suggests otherwise, Pollok’s rise to sixth place in the standings on the back of their 4-0 Newlandsfield defeat of Clydebank can hardly be regarded as straightforward.

Nikky Little’s shot carrying over the crossbar on the half hour mark was the sum total of Lok’s efforts on goal during an opening 45 minutes in which the well organised Bankies more than held their own and could have been leading 1-0 but for Chris Black miskicking from two yards range with the goal at his mercy.

A wonder Gary McCann goal in 53 minutes turned the game on its head as he took possession on the right flank and cut inside his marker before from 22 yards firing a left footed shot high beyond the grasp of Bankies goalkeeper Josh Lumsden.

With confidence buoyed , Pollok  were now dominating  possession and the closing 20 minutes brought three further goals with the first coming from a powerful Ryan McGregor header following a corner kick to the back post.

Another notch appeared on the  scoreline within minutes as Bankies No.1 Lumsden made a hash of dealing with substitute Alan McKenzie’s strike at goal and the linesman judged the ball had crossed the line for 3-0.

And yet another replacement off the bench, Nikky Prentice, applied the coup de grace when he pounced on a Bankies defensive blunder to race clear and round off the scoring with a low shot.

The remaining top flight contest saw Hurlford United and Rob Roy share the spoils in a hard fought 2-2 Guys Meadow encounter in which the Ayrshiremen twice led through Danny Mitchell and Adam Hodge goals only to be pegged back by Willie Sawyers and Kevin Watt counters. 

Continuing  to head up the Super First Division are Petershill whose midfielder Ian Gold netted a late in the day winner to clinch a 2-1 victory over Renfrew that ensures the Peasy stay six points clear of second placed Cambuslang Rangers ,4-3 winners in an eventful Somervell Park contest against Irvine Meadow .

The Lang, for whom Dale Simeon(2) ,Chris Meikle and Calum McRobbie were on the mark, had stopper Barry Eley sent off while Medda  central defenders Craig Buchanan (2 yellows) and Darren Miller  were both given their marching orders during a stormy second half.

Troon are up into third top spot following a 5-2 defeat of Larkhall Thistle marked by young striker Scott McLean netting four times.