Given that his nickname is 'Arnie' it is more than a tad ironic that almost two years will have elapsed when Stuart Davidson gets back to former Beechwood Park pastures on Saturday.

The arena whose midfield he patrolled with physicality and vigour during a memorable eight- year engine room stint plays host to a top-of-the-table Super Premier Division clash between frontrunners Auchinleck Talbot and third-placed Kilbirnie Ladeside, who currently trail their Ayrshire rivals by six points.

To actually overhaul the league leaders may prove a challenge too far, however this lofty league position is a clear indication of how the Blasties have seamlessly found their feet at top flight level.

Kevin McDonald & Co have exceeded all expectations despite only moving up the ladder after winning promotion as Super First Division runners-up last time out.

A large slice of the credit is down to the coaching skills and dressing room nous of Arnie who Valefield co-gaffers Stevie Swift and Mark Crilly describe as "an old-school Junior who brings players down to earth with a bang should they dare to let standards slip".

Swifty said: "Arnie goes about his job quietly and doesn't get the credit he deserves, but Mark and I fully appreciate his input and knowledge when it comes to team matters and we look upon him as an integral part of our management team.

"He's a huge asset to this club, not least because he exerts a huge influence on the training ground after growing into the role of coach when a succession of injuries caused him to call time on his playing days.

"Like all of us in the twilight of our playing careers, however, he can get the urge to pull the boots back on again - and no doubt he will find the feeling even more difficult to resist when the guys line up against his old team on Saturday afternoon.

"He's assured of a great welcome as befitting someone who won three Scottish Cups during his time there, but his fiercely competitive nature simply won't allow him to enjoy the experience unless Kilbirnie's players deliver a win on the day."

The 34-year-old Arnie insists the visiting Blasties have nothing to fear from taking on a Talbot side likely to include faces very familiar to him.

He said: "It will be good to meet up with Colin Spence, Steven White, James Latta, Bryan Young and Craig Pettigrew who remain from the team I played in.

"It's so typical of the gaffer Tommy Sloan to retain such a strong core while gradually blooding a number of younger up-and-coming talents each season and instilling in them the hunger and desire that goes hand-in-hand with playing for Talbot.

"That winning formula dates back to my time at Beechwood and is tried and trusted, but I will be very interested to see how our players match up in the commitment stakes.

"There are lots of positives to be taken from the way we have played for the most part since winning promotion, but now comes the true litmus test of going head to head with the champions-elect.

"You can take it for certain that we will have a true reflection of our standing in the Junior game when the final whistle sounds."

The fact Auchinleck and Kilbirnie are the two highest scoring Super Premier sides only adds spice to the clash according to Arnie .

He said: "Our mindset dictates we will have a go at Talbot rather than try to shut up shop and I would think our players possess the belief and strength of character needed to carry the day.

"I'm not going to get ahead of myself and predict we will win the game, however what must be said is that on our high days this season Kilbirnie Ladeside have shown themselves capable of beating anyone."

Meanwhile, the likelihood of Girvan's home ground of Hamilton Park remaining unplayable this coming Saturday has resulted in their four-times postponed Scottish Junior Cup fourth round tie against Rutherglen Glencairn being switched to Winton Park in Ardrossan (kick-off 2.15pm).