McBookie Super League Premier Division



BUOYANT Buffs, on a high after reaching the Ardagh Glass League Cup quarter-finals as sectional winners, opened the league campaign with a fine win against last season's West of Scotland Cup runners-up.

The opening 15 minutes were cagey with neither side able to create any notable chances.

The strong wind made it an unattractive affair, underpinned when visiting player James Lundie kicked fresh air as the ball swerved away from him.

Buffs had a couple of free-kicks themselves - Adam Hunter cleared the first and Nock keeper Darren Johnson punched the second one high into the air but then he was fouled. It was a scrappy affair but the away side carved out a great chance to take the lead. Del Esplin crossed it for Sean McKenzie who flicked it on at the back post where it looked like Samson would tap in – but he hit it wide from only two yards out.

The visitors seemed the more likely team to go ahead, with half chances falling the way of Esplin, who shot wide, and Ray Montgomerie who scuffed his effort into the ground.

The hosts went ahead in 27 minutes when Monti found David Winters, who drilled the ball into the bottom left.

'Nock then had a great chance to equalise. McKenzie ran to the byline before cutting inside the box and it looked for all the world that he would square it to the better-placed Samson, but instead he took the shot on himself and his effort went well wide.

Esplin intercepted well in the middle of the park to pass to Hunter, who this time did well to find Keir Samson. He skipped past Tommy Maitland initially but the defender got back at him to clear for a corner which was cleared. McKenzie did well to chase down a lost cause but the goalie just survived with the skin of his teeth as his kick hit McKenzie and went out.

Buffs then doubled their lead. A home player was tripped inside the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Carlo Monti struck the ball clean into the bottom right of the net. Just before half-time the deficit was halved. Samson beat Maitland on the halfway line before running on and passing to McKenzie. He laid it off for Hunter whose shot was blocked, only for it to ricochet kindly back out towards Esplin, whose right-footed daisy cutter nestled into the bottom of the net.

Two minutes after the break, Kilwinning went 3-1 ahead. Muir was easily beaten on the left and the ball was crossed towards Bryan Boylan who headed smartly into the bottom left corner of the net.

In 83 minutes 'Nock's misery was compounded when Boylan notched his second and the Buffs' fourth goal.

It was déjà vu as the ball was swung in from the left, again, and Boylan was unmarked to head powerfully into the net, again. The Nock team had looked devoid of any fight for the majority of the second half but substitute Adam Forsyth was tripped inside the box with the referee levelling the score on penalty awards. McKenzie stepped up and hit an unconvincing penalty which was saved by the keeper but he headed home the rebound over the still-grounded keeper.

It was a deserved win for Buffs.