ONLY two clubs are left flying the flag for Ayrshire in this season’s South of Scotland Challenge Cup after a weekend of surprise results in the competition’s fourth round.

There weren’t many smiles bigger than those being worn by Chris Aitken and his players at Buffs Park after Kilwinning Rangers made light of the two-division gap between themselves and visitors Albion Rovers, who returned home to Coatbridge on the wrong end of a convincing 3-0 defeat.

It was all square at the interval, but that all changed early in the second half as Mark Lamont found the top corner with a superb free kick on 49 minutes before adding his and the hosts’ second from the penalty spot after Gavin Millar was fouled inside the box.

Millar himself added the third in front of an ecstatic home support, while Rovers’ miserable afternoon ended in even more dismay as sub Conor Duffy was shown a straight red for a bad challenge on Buffs captain Ben Lewis.

The only other Ayrshire side to make it into the last 16 was Jimmy Kirkwood’s Troon side, who had to come from behind to see off Thornton Hibs 3-2 at Portland Park.

Garry Thomson’s early free kick put the Fife side in front, but Leyton Dunlop levelled for the hosts before Mark Shankland and Kyle Gilroy found the net to put the hosts in control at the break.

Another free kick, this time from Stuart Drummond, brought the visitors, who play in the second division of the East of Scotland League, back into the tie midway through the second half, but Kirkwood’s men were able to weather the storm in the final quarter to become the only WoSFL Premier side from Ayrshire to reach the fifth round.

It was a bad day at the office all round for 2022 tournament winners Auchinleck Talbot, who saw their run of eight straight wins in all competitions – the most recent of them against Largs Thistle last Wednesday night - brought to an unceremonious end by East Premier leaders Broxburn Athletic, with the West Lothian side running out 3-0 winners at Albyn Park against a Talbot side who played more than half the game with 10 men after Ewan Thomson was shown a straight red just before the break.

Glenafton parted company with boss Mark Roberts and his assistant Gary Harkins after their 2-1 defeat away to Shotts Bon Accord, with Liam Caddis’s late consolation goal proving to be the last act in an unhappy spell of less than three months in the Loch Park hotseat for the former Ayr United striker.

A disappointing November for Beith Juniors continued as Chris Strain’s men tumbled to their third defeat in all competitions this month, this time at home to Kirkintilloch Rob Roy.

The Mighty, who lost 2-1 at Darvel in the league last Wednesday, faced a huge uphill struggle after conceding three times in the space of 15 first half minutes - and though the second half was a completely different story, with Ciaran Diver and Aaron Mason reducing the deficit, Rob Roy being reduced to 10 men and Beith having an equaliser ruled out for offside, the Bellsdale men fell just short.

There were long faces in the Largs Thistle camp, too, after Stuart Davidson’s men lost 2-1 at home to First Division Ashfield; Johnny Black and Sean Grady gave the visitors a 2-0 lead after 33 minutes at Barrfields, and though Ryan McCreath pulled one back for the hosts moments later, the hosts were unable to force a leveller as the Glasgow side exacted revenge for their defeat in the sides’ Junior Cup meeting just two weeks previously.

But there was to be no shock result at Rosebank Park, where Lugar Boswell Thistle found the gap of 83 places in the pyramid between themselves and Lowland League visitors Tranent just too much to bridge, with the East Lothian side easing through after a 5-0 win.

In the Premier Division, Darvel closed the gap on leaders Clydebank to four points with a 3-0 win at struggling Arthurlie, but Cumnock’s roller-coaster campaign continued with a 5-2 defeat away to Hurlford.

Murdie MacKinnon’s men went into the game off the back of a 4-3 midweek win at home to Troon – the Nock having led 4-0 at the break – but a horror first half at Blair Park saw the Townhead Park side go in four down at the interval, with second half goals by Robbie Buchanan and Jamie Conn coming too little, too late.

Irvine Meadow remain rooted to the bottom of the table after losing 3-1 at home to Benburb; Medda trailed 2-0 at the break against a Bens side who were reduced to 10 men before the break, and though Grant Brennan pulled one back midway through the second half, a red card for Sean Ewart dealt a terminal blow to the hosts’ hopes before the visitors added a late third.

Maybole tumbled to a fourth straight First Division defeat, this time away to Blantyre Victoria, while Whitletts are still looking for their first point since moving to New Voluntary Park after a 4-0 humbling at home to Renfrew that keeps Vics eight points adrift at the bottom of the second tier.

Ardrossan Winton Rovers extended their lead at the top of the Second Division to 10 points, but they had to come from behind to win 4-2 at home to Maryhill, with Mark Curragh scoring twice in the first half before Ryan Wilson and Aidan Ferris struck after the break – while East Ayrshire rivals Muirkirk and Bonnyton Thistle shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw at Burnside Park.

Irvine Vics had five different scorers as they leapfrogged Greenock into second place in the Third Division after an impressive 6-0 win at Ravenscraig, with man-of-the-match Kyro Crawford on the scoresheet twice, while David Smith, Steven Gaffney, Liam Strain, Alessandro Saverese and Lewis McCracken also found the net.

Girvan’s early promise gave way to disappointment at home to Vale of Leven, with the visitors roaring back in response to Euan Smith’s first-half double to win 4-2 at Hamilton Park, while Kello Rovers remain bottom despite battling to a 2-2 draw away to Kilsyth Athletic.

And in the Fourth Division, Saltcoats Vics were forced to forfeit their match away to BSC Glasgow – with Bryan Slavin resigning as manager and, according to social media reports, the club’s players deciding to ‘down tools’, meaning Vics were unable to field a team for the match.