Auchinleck Talbot are the team to beat and do not intend to relinquish their top of the Premier League perch without a fight.

That was the statement posted out by the Ayrshire cracks on Saturday when they showcased their seemingly knack for bouncing back from a dreadful start to overcome great rivals Cumnock by a 3-2 scoreline.

Yet with just over an hour played in this heated Townhead Park affair, even that most ardent of Talbot supporters, former player and ex-Kilmarnock legend Derek McDicken, was observed with a concerned frown creasing his face given Cumnock were comfortably defending a 2-0 lead earned by a fourth minute headed goal by Greg Ferry followed a quarter of an hour later by a Finlay Frye penalty kick conversion after Bot’s Jamie Glasgow was controversially adjudged to have blocked a shot with his arm.

It should be said the home side’s advantage at this stage was no more than they deserved, with Jamie Wilson and Frye ruling the midfield roost and the searing runs of striker Jamie Conn proving a real thorn in the flesh of the visiting defence however turning negative into positive only required a flick of the switch, or in this case two, as Auchinleck substitutes Bryan Boylan and Mark Shankland were introduced to the fray.

Shankers took on the role of orchestrator-in-chief but the real instigator of Talbot’s turnaround in fortunes and the difference-maker to the end result was Boylan as his  direct running  and  more physical approach  could not be handled by a  Cumnock rearguard whose then reverting to a deeper starting position  from which to defend their penalty box  only brought considerably more  pressure to bear on them.

Cumnock didn’t learn a  lesson from Keir Samson being  afforded the time  and space to  unleash a swerving 25  yard  shot that crashed off the crossbar  and  duly paid the ultimate price in 68   minutes   when  a far flung  cross found the same Talbot front man criminally  unmarked on the six  yard line to direct a  downward header past helpless Nock keeper  Kieran Hughes for 2-1.

The roars of approval from their Black & Gold terracing throng stoked further fires in the visiting bellies to bring a blitzkrieg over the closing stages that few opponent, certainly not Cumnock, could have held out  against.

Just five minutes after Samson’s breakthrough, came another keynote moment when Dwayne  Hyslop was felled by a despairing  challenge  causing whistler  Chris Gentiles to point his finger at the Asda Carpark end spot for the second time in the match.

Shankland fired home the award with no little aplomb to level the scores at 2-2 and leave the only question unanswered of when (not if) Talbot’s new found impetus would derive a matchwinning goal.

Fittingly, it was Boylan who supplied the answer around the 85th minute mark when a rare Cumnock second half attack led to Conn firing a tame shot straight at Andy Leishman sparked a counter-attack down the right flank that culminated in Glasgow firing over a low  a driven ross that Boylan turned into the net from eight yards out . 

The bustling striker admitted later: "I’m only back training after sitting out in recent weeks with a groin strain and never expected  to come straight  back into the  team but I  always  felt there would be a  chance of me  coming off the bench and just wanted to make  the most of it.

“To actually score the winning goal in a game of this importance means everything to me not least because anything less than a victory was never going to be good enough for  this club or its fans.

“I came to Talbot to play in these big game occasions and hopefully there are many more to come.”

Nock assistant  gaffer Mark Cameron reflected on his  side’s Jekyll  and Hyde like performance in saying: "It’s  very disappointing to  lose from 2-0  up but  more often than  not that  scoreline tends to mean  next goal is the winner.

“We certainly didn’t help  ourselves because Auchinleck’s first  goal was  probably the   game’s  turning point  yet it  came  about from  a direct free kick  in our favour  being  blocked,  enabling  them  to  break  upfield with  pace for Samson to score.

“Scoring at that point has given them a lift and you know Talbot are   going to keep coming at you but  not  having  the strength,  mental  toughness and  concentration  to  keep them at bay saw  us get our come-uppance."

Kilwinning Rangers climbed to second place  in the standings after  their 3-1 victory over  arch-foes Irvine Meadow, with Gavin Miller (2) and David Syme (pen) on the mark, coincided with hitherto  runners-up spot occupiers  Clydebank  going down to a first league defeat of the season ,beaten  2-0 at  home to Pollok.

Josh Weir’s first half goal and a 90th minute counter by substitute Adam Forde   saw the  Southside cracks  over the line however Bankies followers reckon the real damage was inflicted by the red carding of their  midfielder Fraser Johnstone  around the hour mark and on the  linesman’s say so ,  after an off  the  ball incident involving  Lok’s Shaun Fraser.

In  other top  flight contests,Glenafton  were more than  a tad relieved to overcome  bottom markers  Bonnnyton Thistle1-0 while Beith, trailing 1-0 to  Kilbirnie Ladeside at  the interval were put on course for a home win by a quickfire double  from  veteran  hitman   Kenny McLean  before newcomer Josh Fowler clinched  all three points .

Two  penalty kick goals from skipper Scott Walker and further strikes from Kerr  McCormick and Sean McMonagle helped Rob Roy best  Cumbernauld United by a4-1 scoreline and Largs Thistle  were every bit  as emphatic  winners at home to Benburb thanks  to Willie Sewwll, Scott Adam (pen) and Owen McGinty scores racking up a 3-0 triumph.

Kit Cummings snatched  the decisive goal in Rutherglen Glencairn’s 3-2 see-saw success over Blantyre Vics and there were further signs of a Rossvale  revival being underway after  Iain Diack’s men ran out 2-0 winners against Troon thanks to Dan  Kindlan and Conor  McDonald scores.

Elsewhere, the  Conference  League  game  of  the   day  went the way of Neilston whose reducing the points lead of C Division frontrunners Drumchapel United  was achieved on the back of a  hard fought 2-1 Brig O’ Lea defeat of    the  Drum with Darren Jones and Darren Kennedy on target.

RESULTS: (Kick Offs 2PM):P.D.M. Buildbase Premier League.Irvine Meadow 1 Kilwinning Rangers 3, Cumbernauld Utd 1 Rob Roy 4, Clydebank 0 Pollok 2, Largs Thistle 3 Benburb 0, Rossvale 2 Troon 0, Rutherglen Glencairn  3 Blantyre Vics 2, Cumnock 2 Auchinleck Talbot 3, Beith 3  Kilbirnie Ladeside1, Glenafton 1 Bonnyton Thistle  0. PDM Buildbase Conference    League A, Irvine Vics 1 Lesmahagow 5, Maybole 4 Muirkirk 3, Forth Wanderers 6 Lugar Boswell 2,  Arthurlie 5 Johnstone Burgh 2,  Glasgow University 3 Craigmark  0,Saltcoats Vics 2 Maryhill 4, Girvan 1 Bellshill Athletic 5, Shotts  Bon Accord v Whitletts Vics. PDM Buildbase Conference League B. St Cadocs  4  Port Glasgow 0,Ashfield 2 Thorniewood Utd 4, Ardeer Thistle 3 Newmains Utd 2, Cambuslang Rangers 10 Royal Albert 1, Greenock 1 Gartcairn 0, Glasgow Utd 0 Kello Rovers  0, Dalry Thistle 1 Carluke Rovers 2.PDM Buildbase Conference League C. Ardrossan  Winton Rovers 1 Larkhall Thistle 1,  Lanark Utd 3 Petershill 4, East  Kilbride Thistle  2 St Anthonys 0, Neilston 2 Drumchapel Utd 1, St Rochs  5 Wishaw 1. PDM Buildbase Division Four.Kilsyth Athletic 5 Glenvale 1, BSC Glasgow 2  Campbelltown Pupils 3, Harmony Row 3 Finnart 4.