MAYBE everyone should start calling him ‘mystic’ Mark Shankland from now on. Because as the hours ticked down to Auchinleck Talbot’s date with destiny against his former club Ayr United, the 23-year-old had a premonition that things might turn out precisely as they did.

Okay, so he would have preferred to have been on from the start, rather than simply climbing off the Beechwood Park bench with quarter of an hour remaining. But as the celebrations in this former mining village stretched on long into Saturday night, he was entitled to feel rather chuffed about his contribution. First he earned a dubious free kick with his first touch,, then he used his second to deliver the cross which was steered in by Craig McCracken – another former Ayr United player - for the goal which secured the biggest result in Talbot’s illustrious history.

As much as he admitted any bitterness was in the past, this one was a little bit personal for Shankland. Still Ayr’s youngest ever player – he made his debut for them aged just 15 – the Somerset Park side retained his registration until as recently as last summer following a contract wrangle. The backstory seemed relevant as he milked the moment by parading up and down in front of the visiting fans, cupping his ears as he went.

“I was playing out the scenarios in my head in the days before the game,” said Shankland. “You know, at night, when you are trying to sleep and you can’t? That was me. I was lying thinking, ‘What if this happens, what if that happens? I never planned it that way, but it was perfect. It would have been better if it was me who got the header I suppose but I will take it!

“It was a sweet moment for me, as you saw by my celebration,” he added. “I will remember that day for a long time. It couldn’t have gone any better.

“My first touch of the ball was to win the free-kick, and I don’t think it was a foul. Then my second was to send the cross in. It was a good ball and Craig is good in the air. Two former Ayr players combining to score the can’t beat it.”

Auchinleck aren’t interested in joining the pyramid system. They are more interest in remaining the pinnacle of the junior game, a goal which the money from this cup tie and their next round tie against Hearts will go towards. But for one day at least, this hardy band of local heroes proved they were more than a match for a side who could well be playing their football in the Scottish top-flight next year. As it happened Mark also had a premonition that his namesake Lawrence wouldn’t be playing for Ayr, although that owed more to some inside info than divine intervention.

“I knew he wasn’t playing before the game,” said Shankland. “I’d seen something that he’d come out of training early [with an Achilles problem]. I wasn’t doing a Marcelo Bielsa or anything...I’d just heard. I’d have rather beaten them with him in the team, because that’s them at their best. But on paper, they should still have beaten us comfortably. I read a few things leading up to the game that it was about how many Ayr would win by. That was our team talk because we weren’t going to let that happen.”

It was wrong to single anyone out because this was a collective effort, a community revelling in its 90 minutes of fame. It was the quintessential cup upset, except that nobody – particularly Auchinleck fans who had been piling onto their team at 14/1 – seemed shocked by the outcome.

Everywhere you looked, there were heroes in black and gold. For local postman Gordon Pope, whose late leveller against Hearts in 2012 was wrongly wiped off the books, this more than made up for Tynecastle, where they are now fated to return. “Everything just worked for us today,” he said. “Nobody put a foot wrong. For 90 minutes we just didn’t stop. This makes up for Tynecastle.” Goalkeeper Andy Leishman, another veteran of that match, was up to everything Ayr could throw at him. Although, frankly, it wasn’t enough. “I expected to be the busiest player on the park but everything was straight at me,” he said. “This is the biggest thing this club will ever achieve.”

There was Tommy Sloan, whose decision to go 4-4-2 late on was perfectly timed to put the fear of God into Ayr just as they seemed to be gaining the upper hand. And unsung heroes like Jamie Glasgow and Graham Wilson, who left the fray having run themselves into the ground. “I’ve heard a couple of people knocking the level of junior football but I’ve played League Two and the Lowland League and for me the West Premier is better than both,” said Glasgow. “We said if we weren’t going to get a result we wanted to make sure we left everything out on the park - and got our rewards for it. We will give our absolute best in the next round too. You’ve got to believe.”