For the 13th time in all, the Macron Scottish Junior Cup is headed for a familiar destination, Beechwood Park, Auchinleck, after Auchinleck Talbot did what they generally do, and emphatically beat their North Ayrshire rivals in the final at Hamilton.
Talbot wasted little time in going in front, with Craig McCracken, who scored their injury-time winner at Rugby Park last season, repeating his scoring feat, by heading his side in front after two minutes and 40 seconds.
The goal came from Talbot’s first attack, which yielded a corner, from which Jamie Glasgow found eventual man of the match McCracken free to head home.
To their credit, Largs didn’t let this early blow bother them. The dangerous Ben Black, on the left wing, caused Bot skipper Willie Lyle to pick-up a yellow card after seven minutes and, as the first half unfolded, the North Ayrshire side gradually took control.
However, they were getting nothing out of the Talbot defence; indeed, Bot keeper Andy Leishman didn’t have a single save to make during the opening period.
This half ended with Talbot two up. In 38 minutes, a quick ball out of defence allowed Graham Wilson to make a lot of ground down the left and his low cross was knocked home from six yards by Keir Samson. The second half, to be honest, was a non-event. Talbot sat back and invited Thistle on to them, but, the North Ayrshire side were no more successful in bothering the Talbot defence than in the first half.
To be fair, they did force Leishman to make a save, on the hour, but, the few near things in the half were at the other end. Stephen Wilson lashed the ball wide when clean through, then substitute Mark Shankland rattled the Largs bar, while Thistle goalkeeper Daniel Farrell twice rescued dangerous moments.
There were further yellow cards for Largs’ Craig Little and Stuart Faulds and Talbot’s Sean McIllroy.
So, the cup returns to Auchinleck – the first time they have successfully defended the trophy since Willie Knox’s final two of his five wins as manager, in 1991 and 1992.
Disappointment for Largs, who were looking to remember the 25th anniversary of their only Scottish Cup win with a second.
But, joy for Tommy Sloan, pictured, the Talbot boss. A personal seventh win as boss, his eighth win in all, first successful defence and now on course to match Knox’s run of three wins in succession.