It seemed too good to be true and so it proved …When Arthurlie's right-sided midfielder Josh Payne pounced on a slack clearance to cut inside and skilfully curl a left-foot shot beyond the grasp of Neilston goalkeeper Marc Wilson, only nine minutes had been played in the Dunterlie clash of the near neighbours.

Pre-match talk had centred on a 4-4 draw played out between the clubs earlier this season, so one settled back in anticipation of yet another exciting and high-scoring affair.

Alas it wasn’t to be and there was precious little in the way of entertainment on display despite the best efforts of both sets of players to inject some fire and bite into a pretty tepid encounter.

Arthurlie’s early promise - they had looked lively and dominant following the early boost of Payne’s goal - did not manifest itself and other than a James Marks header superbly touched away by a diving Wilson, they rarely threatened to score again, as team boss Dunky Sinclair pointed out in his summations afterwards.

He insisted: "Last week we were overrun in midfield by Rutherglen Glencairn, so we tinkered with the team to address the problem and I felt as if the changes we made helped us in terms of a better shape and spirit.

“We tried to get the ball down to play passes with both Der McNab and Tiger Molloy showing up well and first half we certainly had some joy down the right flank, albeit we never got more out of it.

“But we had warned the guys that teams coming to Dunterlie are riled up to prove a point and the second 45 minutes was dire as Neilston forced the pace and played as they wanted …winning free kicks to bring their big boys into our penalty box.

“It was disappointing that slack marking saw us lose a goal from one such situation but we never looked like conceding another goal and the game fizzled out tamely to an inevitable draw.”

A half-time tongue lashing from co-managers Martin Campbell and John Paul Dow certainly brought the desired effect from their Neilston playing charges, and it was no real surprise when an equalising goal arrived on the hour mark after centre-back Paul Young rose unchallenged to head a free kick back across goal and striker Dylan Fletcher bundled the ball home.

Campbell slammed: "Harsh words had to be spoken because we just never got out of the traps in the first half which has to go down as the worst 45 minutes we have played all season.

“The big lift in our performance brought a deserved equaliser and we stayed on top but without getting any breaks in and around the penalty area which maybe explains why there were so many disappointed faces in our dressing room at the final whistle.”

Elsewhere in the Championship stakes, frontrunners Rutherglen Glencairn dropped their first points of the season in a 1-1 draw away to Darvel, for whom Greg Vernon converted a disputed penalty kick to cancel out Craig McGregor’s opener for the Glens.

Benburb being similarly held down at Dalry Thistle opened the door for Rossvale to go second top of the pile thanks to Chris Zok and Liam McGonigle scores deriving a 2-1 comeback win against Craigmark.

Up into fourth top spot are Kilsyth Rangers for whom Steven Degnan and Jack Harrison were on target in a hard fought 2-1 victory over Cumbernauld United whose consolation score was netted by Scott Davidson.

Whitletts Vics moved to within a point of Neilston after Isaac Kerr, Thomas Donovan and Adam Forsyth scored in a 3-1 triumph over Kello Rovers, while also on an upwards curve are St Rochs, 5-2 winners on the road against Irvine Vics thanks to Jordan Logan (2) Kieron Daw (2) and Rab McGuire goals.

Auchinleck Talbot and Beith continue to fly the Junior flag in the William Hill Scottish Cup after posting preliminary round victories, Auchinleck running out 10-0 winners in a one-sided contest at home to Wigton & Bladnoch, however Beith had it a lot tougher in squeezing home 3-2 against Lothian Thistle.

Connor McGlinchey (pen) and Joe Bradley goals had the Mighty 2-0 ahead, however their East opponents fought back to tie matters at 2-2 and a replay seemed a certainty until Keir Milliken popped up to score a last-minute winner for the Junior side.

Away ties against Highland League outfits was the reward for both clubs following the first round being draw made on Saturday with Nairn County hosting the visit of Beith, while Auchinleck face an even longer journey to meet Wick Academy.

WEEKEND RESULTS: Premiership: Largs Thistle 3 Cumnock 3 ,

Renfrew 3 Petershill 4, Pollok 2 Irvine Meadow 0, Rob Roy 3 Kilwinning Rangers 2, Clydebank 2 Kilbirnie Ladeside 0, Cambuslang Rangers 3 Glenafton 2, Troon 1 Hurlford Utd 2. Championship: Kello Rovers 1 Whitletts Vics 3, Craigmark 1 Rossvale 2, Arthurlie 1 Neilston 1, Irvine Vics 2 St Rochs 5, Dalry Thistle 1 Benburb 1, Kilsyth Rangers 2 Cumbernauld Utd 1, Darvel 1 Rutherglen Glencairn 1. League One:Port Glasgow 2 Shettleston 0, Glasgow Perthshire 3 Blantyre Vics 3, Lugar Boswell 2 Ardrossan Winton Rovers 6, East Kilbride Thistle 2 Yoker Athletic 1, Greenock 1 Royal Albert 4, Shotts Bon Accord 0 Gartcairn 3, Wishaw 1 Bellshill Athletic 2, Maybole 1 Maryhill 2. League Two: Saltcoats Vics 0 Forth Wanderers 2, Vale of Clyde 0 Muirkirk 2, Ardeer Thistle 0 Annbank Utd 2, Lanark Utd 3 Carluke Rovers 0, Newmains Utd 2 Vale of Leven 7, Thorniewood Utd 2 Lesmahagow 3, Johnstone Burgh 2 Ashfield 2.