RENFREW reaped the good fortune of Scott Morton’s availability for selection as the speedy front man bagged a hat-trick to help earn a 3-1 victory over Kilwinning Rangers.

Victory delivered back-to-back league wins for the first time this season and the 26-year old’s pace and movement tormented the Buffs throughout.

Morton always seemed to be right on the shoulder of a backtracking defender, ready to pounce on a mistake or error in judgement, and it must be said there were numerous opportunities.

And now the forward is targeting taking many more in the all-important run-in to the season.

"That’s me onto four goals for the season which isn’t a grand total by any standards," he admitted. "But it’s been such a stop-start season because of my work that I’m just happy to make a telling contribution.

“My first goal settled us when Kilwinning were putting our defence under pressure and scoring again so soon afterwards had us on top until the referee saw fit to award them a dubious penalty.

“There was not a lot to choose between the teams second half but I’ve then gambled on chasing a long Danny McLeavy kick out and I’ve been in the right place to take advantage when their defenders have left the ball to each other.

“Getting back our two-goal cushion made a huge difference and allowed us to see the game out comfortably, yet we probably should have scored more goals given the chances created over the closing stages.”

The visiting Ayrshiremen did start the better in this New Western Park contest and Garry Fleming’s run and cross set up a shot from Carlo Monti, easily saved by Frew keeper McLeay, prior to the Buffs front man striking the top of the crossbar with a 20-yard free kick.

But in 13 minutes David McKenna latched onto a through ball down the side, his first touch taking him past goalkeeper Nicky Hogarth, before picking out Morton who duly clipped a curling lob over a couple of chasing Buffs defenders and into the unguarded net for 1-0.

Just two minutes later the scoreline was doubled as Buffs defender David Syme was horribly short with an attempted passback and the alert Morton nipped in to poke the ball past the stranded keeper.

If the visitors were shocked to find themselves trailing 2-0, their bewilderment was nothing compared to that of Renfrew’s players when whistler Chris Graham threw ta lifeline by awarding a spot kick after Sam McLoskey’s driven cross skimmed off Monti’s head to strike Frew defender Bob Campbell's upper body.

The former Shettleston stalwart’s appeals only landed him with a yellow card, as Fleming expertly tucked away the contentious award for 2-1 which was to remain the scoreline until the interval.

A somewhat tepid second period sprung into life around the hour mark with a concerted Frew flurry which saw shots from McKenna, Morton and Ricky McIntosh kept out by a combination of the upright and last-gasp blocks. However, Kilwinning’s goal was only to remain intact for a further six minutes.

Yet another long McLeay kick saw Buffs defender Jamie Whyte attempt to shepherd the ball back to advancing No.1 Hogarth but that man Morton nipped between them to deftly lob the ball over the goalkeeper for his and Renfrew’s third.

Kilwinning boss Chris Strain said afterwards: "The third and decisive goal was a clear case of miscommunication yet I find it hard to lay the blame on Nicky who is on loan to us from Rangers.

“In situations like today I have always maintained that until the ball is in the goalkeeper’s hands then the defender’s job is to make sure he is between the attacker and his keeper at all times and if not he must boot the ball to safety.

“The lad Morton has shown decent opportunism but should not be getting in there as easily as he did.”

Renfrew’s triumph lifted them up to sixth from bottom spot in the standings – much to the delight of co-boss Martin Ferry.

“We are good value for the performances here at New Western park in front of our own fans where we have shown ourselves a match for anyone," he said. "But away from home has been a different matter and is why we are at the wrong end of the table.

“I thought we were the better team today and fully deserved our win with Scott going to receive all the plaudits for his three goals yet he probably played better last week against Largs Thistle and didn’t get his name on the scoresheet.”

Renfrew’s triumph became even more critical as word came through of drop zone rivals Kilbirnie Ladeside running out 3-0 winners over Troon thanks to goals from David Ramsay (2) and Peter McGill.

And yet another blow to their survival hopes was suffered by second bottom Petershill in going down 3-0 at home to Beith for whom Kenny McLean (pen), Kevin Green and Nikky Docherty were on target.

At the other end of the table, Reece Pearson's treble along with a Callum Gow double and a counter from ex-Renfrew front man Darren Jones saw second top Irvine Meadow win 6-0 at home to a Cambuslang Rangers side that had ex-Medda defender Mark Staunton red carded in the first half.

Auchinleck Talbot are one point further back after needing a late Gordon Pope penalty kick goal to overcome arch rivals Cumnock while Pollok remain in sixth place following a 3-3 stalemate away to Largs Thistle where a 90th minute equaliser from Shaun Fraser secured a share of the spoils for the visitors who had Gary McCann sent off in a melee following the goal.