IT’S early days but if there was a prize for shaping up as one of the season’s success stories then hard not to think Kilbirnie Ladeside would be in the running.

One knows without being told that Budgie McGhie, handed the reins last May after erstwhile gaffer Stevie Swift upped and left to take over at Lowland League outfit B.S.C. Glasgow, won’t like his team being talked about in glowing terms (pride comes before a fall and all that!) prior to Saturday’s locking of Scottish Junior Cup horns with high flying East Region cracks Penicuik Athletic.

However, how do you ignore the fact Kilbirnie are again looking like a side capable of competing for the top honours as well as far removed from their sorry looking state at the end of last season when they were spared a relegation play-off by virtue of finishing fourth from bottom, a mere point better off than Kilwinning Rangers.

A far from encouraging pre-season which included a 7-1 friendly beating at home by Larkhall Thistle was followed by the Blasties failing to qualify for the Ardagh Glass Cup latter stages and Budgie's revamped playing squad were perceived as soft touches.

But an opening day Super Premier League win away to Pollok set the tone for a storming start to their league campaign and the Glengarnock outfit currently occupy second top spot in the standings so the crunch clash against Penicuik should hold no fears…unless the elements conspire to bring about a second successive postponement.

Gaffer Budgie said: “We as a club did everything right after downpours last Friday night had led to doubts being expressed about the playing surface.

“A morning pitch inspection was duly arranged and a local referee deemed it playable but unfortunately the rain never let up from that point onwards and the match referee had no choice upon his arrival but to declare the pitch unplayable.

“I felt heart sorry for the Penicuik players, management and supporters who made a wasted journey through but we are really hopeful of the game going ahead at the second time of asking.

“ A cracker of a cup tie is in prospect as this Penicuik team were East Region league leaders up until last weekend and are a top notch side with several good on the ball players as I discovered when taking in one of their recent matches.

“You can sense Penicuik are a confident bunch and fancy their chances of getting a result in what is undoubtedly the tie of the round and I believe my players will need to be at the top of their game if we are to earn a place in the third Round draw.”

McGhie has snapped up former St Roch's and East Kilbride Lowland League centre-back Dom McLaren as he looks to bolster his selection choices that have been depleted by the absence of experienced pair John Sweeney (suspension) and Reon Juskowiack (injury).

He admitted: “John lost his appeal against being red-carded in a league game against Girvan and his original two-match ban was reinstated with immediate effect while Reon has a hamstring strain that will keep him out for a couple of weeks.

“Losing both players is a blow and probably more so Reon who has been an ever present this season, however we have big Mick O’Byrne raring to slot in as a partner for Corey Hughes as well as the option of throwing McLaren straight into the team, however he’s lacking match fitness from not having played since August.

One-time Pollok and Clyde midfielder Sweeney owned up to feeling gutted at having to sit out the cup tie.

He said: “Budgie has a number of replacement options in Arnie Bembo, Michael Tuohy and Kurtis Roberts and neither of these guys will let the side down but I’m pig sick not to be involved.

“By all accounts Penicuik are going to be a tough nut to crack, however we have Davie Anderson playing at a level that I can only describe as “out of this world” and with Mick O’Byrne organising us defensively then I’m fairly confident of Kilbirnie coming good in the tie.”

Reflecting on his move to the Ayrshire club during the summer months as one of McGhie’s first signings brought the 30-year-old to admit: “Coming here has worked out far better than I could ever have imagined.

“There is a terrific camaraderie running right through the club with everything geared towards what is best for the team .

“Budgie himself is excellent at putting his points across and is one of those modern gaffers who can laugh and joke with the players but is not to be messed about when wanting to be serious and it also helps that his coaching team of Gordon Robertson, Allan Hamilton and Alistair McCall know their stuff and make training very enjoyable with a whole variety of drills.

“Performances up to now have been decent but you have to remember only four players were here last season so hopefully there is better to come.”

Meanwhile, yet another of last weekend’s postponed second round ties in Ayrshire, the meeting of Dalry Thistle and reigning trophy holders Glenafton, will now go ahead on Saturday at Abbey Park (home of Kilwinning Rangers).