AUCHINLECK Talbot’s hold over Pollok in the Macron Scottish Junior Cup shows no signs of abating on the evidence of Saturday’s 3-0 quarter-final victory over the Glasgow Southside club that saw the Ayrshiremen deliver a knockout blow for a third consecutive season.

Talbot’s latest triumph will not have come as that big a surprise to many of the 1800-strong watching on, yet the resounding scoreline does not tell the true story of this Cup tie.

In the end, Tommy Sloan’s men were comfortable winners but even the game’s most successful manager felt it took a wonder Andy Leishman save early in the second half to turn the tide in his side’s favour.

“Our defending too deep first half allowed Pollok’s forwards too much space and they were able to cause problems from the wide areas though without creating any real danger," said Tucker.

“Pollok definitely had the better of the opening 45 minutes but we got out and at them second half and big Andy’s wonder point-blank save along with Gordon Pope’s top-quality strike have put us where we wanted to be.

“I’ve lost count of the number of times that Popey has come up trumps with sensational goals [don’t tell him I said so] and he’s done it again – even though I was screaming at him for being on the opposite side of the pitch just before he unleashed his shot!

“The introduction of Stevie White off the bench has also worked in our favour because he steadied our midfield and allowed a higher press that has forced errors for our next two goals and even though 3-0 flatters us, I’ll take it every time coming here.”

It was clear from the off that Pollok’s game plan was to utilise the searing pace of Gary McCann and Stefan McLuskey in the wide areas and there were some promising early ventures forward though Talbot’s central defensive pairing of Neil McPherson and Ross Harvey comfortably mopped up any crossballs from the flanks.

Talbot were themselves posing little threat at the other end and not surprisingly the teams went in at 0-0.

However, the stalemate was almost broken shortly after the restart when McCann broke through to the right to cut the ball back into the path of younger brother Stuart whose fiercely-struck shot from six yards out would have beaten most goalkeepers – but not Leisman, whose huge frame blocked the ball away to safety.

Auchinleck made the most of this escape to emerge as more of an attacking force and a breakthough goal arrived in 66 minutes when a corner kick cleared outside Pollok’s penalty box on the right side and was picked up by Pope who despatched an unstoppable swerving 20-yard shot high past the reach of Lok keeper Jordan Longmuir.

Having to push forward in search of an equaliser led to Pollok taking risks and they paid the ultimate price five minutes from time when an attempt to pass the ball out of defence saw Boyle caught in possession by White and he headed goalwards before slipping the ball into team-mate Keir Samson’s path and the striker’s shot found the net despite Longmuir's best efforts for 2-0.

It was game over at that point yet a coup de grace arrived in added on time as Longmuir, under pressure from Talbot substitute Sean Mclroy, advanced to the edge of his box to clear upfield with his weaker left foot and from just over the halfway line Stevie Wilson demonstrated great vision and technique to direct a high, looping shot over the backtracking Lok No 1 and into the net for 3-0.

Lok gaffer Murdie McKinnon said afterwards: “I’m hurting and so are the players at having lost 3-0 in a game of such fine margins.

“Leishman’s save from Stuart is a game-changer that would have brought a different complexion on the game while the lad Pope has hit what I would term a "separator" of a goal that is fitting to win an occasion like today.

“The disappointing aspect for me is that we never got out to put pressure on Pope however I don’t want to come across as being over-critical because truth is I was proud of our performance.

“I have no regrets about taking Talbot on and looking to attack and cause them problems to try and win the game but ultimately we only did it for 45 minutes and it wasn’t enough.”

LARGS Thistle were yet another Ayrshire side to clinch a last-four place after a 5-0 dismantling of Kilwinning Rangers who finished with only nine men at Barrfields after goalkeeper Adam Strain and striker Bryan Boylan saw red.

Lively forward Ben Black netted the only goal of a fairly even first half and a Scott Adam penalty early in the second period doubled the home team’s advantage before their numerical advantage told with further counters from Crag Little and a Mark Millar (2).

Troon came up short in their quest to make a first ever semi-final appearance in their 73-year history when losing 2-0 at home to Lochee United for whom Grant Lawson and Scott McComiskie were on the mark and last season’s beaten finalists Hurlford United needed an injury time equaliser from Ryan Caddis to earn a second bite of the cherry against Clydebank.

Bankies front-man Jordan Shelvey drew first blood at Blair Park when he raced onto a threaded through ball from Nicky Little just after the hour mark and rounded goalkeeper Ally Brown before stroking the ball into an empty net and the chances of his goal settling the last eight clash soared with the 80th-minute dismissal of Hurlford front-man Ross Robertson for a second yellow-card offence.

Hurlford's blunted attacking sorties were being easily repelled as the clock ran down but with 92 minutes played, Ryan Caddis fired over an inswinging free-kick from out left that found the net and sparked great scenes among the home team’s players and supporters.