Making use of a little seasonal verse to sum up Kilwinning Rangers’ WOSFL fortunes up to now seems more than a tad appropriate given the time of year...

Six league games played… five of them at home… four victories posted… third place in the table… two odd-goal defeats… and their sights are set on top of the tree!

They have the right man at the helm in the often unfairly maligned manager Chris Strain who was up for talking turkey (apologies offered) after looking on with a fair degree of satisfaction and no little delight as his squad impressively put Hurlford United to the sword by a 3-1 scoreline last weekend.

This somewhat inauspicious beginning to their WOSFL campaign has not prevented Strain holding great store in the qualities of his burgeoning side which taken in tandem with their new and sumptuous Buffs Park surroundings having the potential to be up there with the very best of them, has him convinced Kilwinning's aspirations to be crowned Premier Division champions are alive and well.

And the seasoned gaffer, now in his fourth season at the famous old Ayrshire outfit’s helm, is hoping his troops can serve up another timely reminder of their credentials when making the short hop to face bitter rivals Irvine Meadow on Saturday.

He insisted “Look, there’s no doubting ours is a superior playing squad this season in terms of overall strength in depth but a lack of consistency has gone hand in hand with having more selection options available to us so it’s an accurate assessment to say results and performances up to now have been hit and miss at best.

“It’s my belief our current dressing room contains a sprinkling of guys able to compete against the very best at WOSFL level but experience has taught me that turning on the style doesn’t necessarily bring its just desserts because in this game, you are judged by what you win rather than how you win.

“And that’s why an ugly and scrambled victory over Hurlford might not be to the liking of purists of the game however you won’t find me complaining if we have to settle for grinding out a similar outcome in the derby against Irvine Meadow.

“What matters most is we keep ourselves in and around the top of the table while this squad continues to bed in and improve.

”After all, the title race is 26 games long and we’ve only played six of them!”

Earmarked to play a key role for the visitors at Meadow Park is former Dundee and  Pollok hitman Carlo Monti whose recent good form, underlined by him scoring one goal and setting up another against Hurlford, had losing manager Darren Henderson admitting afterwards: “There’s no disputing the fact Carlo posed us all manner of problems out there but we’re not alone as he’s done the same to just about every Junior team over the past few years.

“He’s so difficult to play against when in the mood, as we found out to our cost, and I would class him as one of the outstanding talents at this level.”

Tucked in behind Monti on Kilwinning’s right flank was another ex-Newlandsfield playing ace, Tony Coutts, who reckons Strain persuading him to put pen to paper on a move to Ayrshire during the close season has gone well so far.

Said the 21-year-old full-back: “Walking away from a club of Pollok’s stature and signing here might have caused a few raised eyebrows but Kilwinning Rangers are undoubtedly a team on the up and I’m really enjoying myself.

“Chris promised he would give me the chance to play regularly and he’s been a man of his word though everyone, myself included, know there is no such thing as favorites when it comes to him picking a team on Saturdays.

“He demands and expects high standards which can put pressure on players to perform but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Meanwhile, a revealing statistic is that Kilwinning Rangers, on the back of a 1-0 early November victory over Darvel, are the only team to score against Mick Kennedy’s men this season.

However hopes of putting up the shutters for a fourth time in five WOSFL starts are sure to come under pressure against Rutherglen Glencairn this coming Saturday with the Ayrshire outfit’s twin centre-backs Daryll Meggatt and Cammy Eadie among a handful of players ruled out by injury for the visit through to the Hamish B Allan Stadium.

Darvel’s ever worsening injury crisis has not prevented acclaimed midfielder Liam Caddis going out on loan to Craigmark last midweek.

The once Senior protege - he played for St Johnstone in a Europa League tie against Belarus outfit Minsk as recently as 2014 - had established himself as a first pick for Hurlford United over the past few years so it was looked upon as a real feather in Kennedy’s cap to win the race for his signature last summer.

Great things were expected of the attacking midfielder, youngest of the Caddis footballing trilogy, Liam (Cumnock) and Paul (Swindon Town) are his brothers, however very little has been seen of him in Darvel’s colours up to now and it’s hoped this surprise move to middle of the table Conference A side Craigmark will act as a career kickstart.

And finally, hard not to think the consequences of clubs withdrawing from the WOSFL earlier this season are continuing to be felt after only 62 names went into the hat for the recent Soccershop Challenge Cup third round draw resulting in Conference B pair Gartcairn and Port Glasgow receiving automatic byes into the last 32.

Reigning trophy holders East Kilbride F.C should easily negotiate a trip through to Edinburgh to face Tynecastle F.C, while a mixed bag of ties awaited the surviving nine strong representation from the WOSFL’s Premier Division.

Clydebank, Rob Roy, Largs Thistle and Irvine Meadow are fancied to progress but more difficult to call is the meeting of top flight pair Rossvale and Hurlford United while potential banana skin contests are in store for Darvel, Cumbernauld United and Blantyre Vics in heading out on their travels to face strong going Conference B trio Neilston, St Cadocs and Johnstone Burgh respectively.

Soccershop Challenge Cup third round draw (ties to be played Saturday 6th February 2021) 
Wishaw v Wigtown and Bladnoch 
Bo’ness Utd v Hill O’Beath 
Coldstream v Hawick Royal Albert 
Muirkirk v Craigmark 
Ashfield v Stirling University 
Yoker Athletic v Dunipace 
Gala Fairydean v Spartans 
Blackburn Utd v Thorniewood Utd or Craigroyston 
Berwick Rangers v Camelon 
Glasgow Perthshire v Heriot-Watt University 
Whitehill Welfare v Dundonald Bluebell or Rob Roy
Linlithgow Rose v Lochore Welfare 
Gretna 2008 or Penicuik Athletic v Tranent 
Haddington Athletic v Renfrew 
St Rochs v Greenock 
Neilston v Darvel 
Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale v Edinburgh Utd 
Kirkcaldy and Dysart v Preston Athletic 
Luncarty v Vale of Leithen or Heston Rovers 
Johnstone Burgh v Blantyre Vics 
St Cadocs v Cumbernauld Utd 
Vale of Leven v BSC Glasgow 
Irvine Meadow v Peebles Rovers or Oakley Utd 
Leith Athletic v Kelty Hearts 
Lochar Thistle v Musselburgh Athletic 
Largs Thistle v Jeanfield Swifts 
Tynecastle v East Kilbride FC 
Rossvale v Hurlford Utd 
Clydebank v Forth Wanderers 
Newmains Utd or Edinburgh University v Thornton Hibs or Nithsdale Wanderers 
Byes Gartcairn, Port Glasgow.

Fixtures Saturday 19 December (kick offs 1.45pm unless stated
WOSFL Premier Division Clydebank v Rossvale, Bonnyton Thistle v Cumbernauld Utd, Irvine Meadow v  Kilwinning Rangers, Hurlford Utd v Troon, Rob Roy v Blantyre Vics, Rutherglen Glencairn v Darvel, Largs Thistle v Beith.
WOSFL Conference League A Maybole v Muirkirk, Ardeer Thistle v Renfrew, Glasgow University v Ashfield, St Rochs v Kello Rovers, Bellshill Athletic v Annbank Utd, Craigmark v Maryhill.
WOSFL Conference League B Port Glasgow v Vale of Leven, Lugar Boswell v Johnstone Burgh (Friday 7.30pm), Irvine Vics v Vale of Clyde, Gartcairn v Greenock, Neilston v Carluke Rovers, St Cadocs v Wishaw.
WOSFL Conference League C Lanark Utd v Yoker Athletic, Drumchapel Utd v Thorniewood Utd, Kilsyth Rangers v East Kilbride Thistle, Newmains Utd v Glasgow Perthshire.