KILWINNING Rangers manager Chris Strain’s sidestep is every bit as adept as it once was when he found himself confronted by tough tackling full-backs during his chequered playing days out on Irvine Meadow’s right flank.

The key difference nowadays is that the 37-year-old’s abilities to evade and dodge tend to be employed when it comes to answering questions centred on his transfer market wheeling and dealing.

For example, the latest addition to his ever-improving Abbey Park stable – legendary Auchinleck Talbot ace James Latta – came just a matter of days after the Buffs boss refuted suggestions the former Bot skipper was on his signing radar.

And last night Chris was proving cagey as ever in steadfastly refusing to be drawn on growing speculation that he was on the verge of launching another Bot signing raid to try and fix up current Scotland Juniors captain Craig Pettigrew who was recently placed on the Beechwood Park open to transfer list at his own request.

Put on the spot he said: “It’s my understanding that a number of clubs are on Petty’s case which is only to be expected given he is a top-notch defender and both tried and trusted at Junior level.

“But to say I or anyone else at Kilwinning Rangers has tabled an offer for him is a complete fabrication and neither have we as much as spoken with the player.

“As far as James is concerned, our approach had to be kept under wraps until terms were agreed because we were aware of others being keen on luring him away so I’m delighted to have everything signed and sealed.

“He is a very versatile type capable of playing several positions and is someone who will do well here at Kilwinning not least because he is a good talker out on the pitch as well as a born winner who has known nothing other than the very highest playing standards over the past 13 years.’’

Latta was denied a quickfire Buffs debut on Saturday when his new side’s Scottish Junior Cup contest at home to Saltcoats Vics was called off because of the Ayrshire District League bottom markers’ inability to field a team which has subsequently resulted in the First Round tie being awarded to Kilwinning.

Next up for Strain and his playing charges is the visit of the current second best placed Super Premier Division side Rob Roy whose battling qualities have not escaped the Buffs gaffer’s attention.

He insisted: “Stewart Maxwell surprised everyone last season through Rob Roy finishing as the league runners-up and he’s away to a good start again.

“His players have been coming from behind in a number of their games so Maxi has clearly instilled a never-say-die attitude and that battling spirit is something we must match to stand any chance of taking the points on offer.

“The team is in good shape and our mix of experience and youth is paying dividends most notably in defence where veteran Mark Campbell and Tommy Maitland have been teaming up to good effect and also further forward where Bryan Boylan’s game has come on in leaps and bounds thanks to playing alongside Davie Winters.’’

Jet-paced frontman Boylan impressed coming on as a substitute when a Junior Scotland XI ran out 5-1 winners against Linlithgow Rose last midweek and he will be hoping to earn his first cap in the forthcoming Quadrangular Cup games which have been announced as:

Scotland v Northern Ireland (McKenna Park 2.30pm) on Wednesday, October 11.

Scotland v Republic of Ireland (New Western Park 7pm) on Thursday, October 12.

Scotland v Isle of Man (Newlandsfield 2.30pm) on Saturday, October 14.

Meanwhile, Pollok’s quest for the top honours has brought the unveiling of former Shotts Bon Accord defender Bryan Wharton as their twelfth new signing of the 2017/18 season on a loan deal from Queen's Park.


(2pm unless stated)

Scottish Junior Cup First Round Replays (2.30pm): Irvine Meadow v Maryhill, Dundee North End v Glasgow Perthshire, Renfrew v Troon, Dundee East Craigie v Rosyth, Maybole v Irvine Vics. Super Premier Division: Arthurlie v Auchinleck Talbot, Beith v Kilbirnie Ladeside, Clydebank v Cumnock, Girvan v Hurlford Utd, Glenafton v Pollok, Kilwinning Rangers v Rob Roy. Super First Division: Darvel v Cambuslang Rangers, Largs Thistle v Kello Rovers, Petershill v Kilsyth Rangers, Rutherglen Glencairn v Cumbernauld Utd, Shettleston v Larkhall Thistle. Central First Division: Thorniewood Utd v Neilston, Benburb v Forth Wanderers, Lesmahagow v Yoker Athletic, Greenock v East Kilbride Thistle, St Roch's v Shotts Bon Accord, Rossvale v Port Glasgow, Blantyre Vics v Wishaw. Central Second Division: Lanark Utd v Gartcairn, Newmains Utd v Ashfield, Royal Albert v Dunipace, Vale of Clyde v Vale of Leven, Johnstone Burgh v Carluke Rovers, Bellshill Athletic v St Anthony's. Ayrshire District League: Annbank Utd v Whitletts Vics, Ardrossan Winton Rovers v Dalry Thistle, Lugar Boswell Thistle v Craigmark, Saltcoats Vics v Muirkirk.