Darvel 0 Largs Thistle 2

Largs put in one of their most commanding away performances of the season as their good 2018 form continued with a valuable win in East Ayrshire.

This match represented fifth versus sixth in the McBookie.com First Division, and served up a six goal thriller between the sides at Barrfields when they last met in November.

Recreation Park was under a layer of snow last week, and the pitch on Saturday was certainly cutting up underneath, making good passing play a challenge but both sides rolled their sleeves up and got on with it.

Indeed, it was a fascinating tussle between two sides aiming to push their way into the top four promotion places.

Darvel had an early opening as Mark Armour attempted to break through on the right but came under pressure from defender Liam McVey, as Thistle keeper Sean Graham was quick off his line to block.

Wiley forward Kevin Struthers sent a flying header just wide of the right post for Largs after a fast paced cross from the right from Scott Adam.

The Barrfields men took the lead as midfielder Graham Muir nipped through and hit in a direct shot repelled by keeper David Markey but Martin Orr was impressive on the uptake as he pounded the rebound low into the net from the edge of the area. 1-0 Largs on 17 minutes.

Largs keeper Graham had to make a robust block to deny Jordan Ryan as he ventured through as half-time approached.

Early in the second half, Jamie Campbell drove forward from the centre circle, and he decided to try his luck with an outlandish strike from 30 yards, and the wind assisted effort came crashing off the Darvel crossbar.

Kevin Struthers then forced a good save from Markey as Thistle pushed to get an important second goal.

From the resultant corner, defender Alan Gilbride's powerful header was finger-tipped on to the bar, but captain Creag Little was there to power another header into the empty net on 58 minutes.

Thistle were 2-0 up in November when Darvel turned the match on its head, and last year's district champs nearly did the same again, but Largs had Nicky Jamieson to thank for clearing Armour's effort off the line a minute later.

Graham then had to make a clever save to deny a swirling cross come shot from the left which threatened to cause havoc.

Darvel still attempted to keep the pressure on but Thistle defended resolutely.

Despite the cold, windy and generally uncomfortable conditions, Largs kept a clean sheet and deserve to be commended for a thoroughly professional display played at a ground where top four sides Cambuslang and Renfrew have already been overturned this season.

Largs: Graham, Orr, McVey, Gilbride, Jamieson, Little, Muir, Campbell, Adam, Struthers, Fleming. Subs: McWaters, Burden, McMaster, Fisher, Cousar (GK).

Darvel: Markey, Biggar, Orr, McCreadie, Walsh, Boyd, Davidson, Henderson, Paterson, Armour, Ryan. Subs: Gilmour, Fitzharris, Waite, Vernon, McManus.

Photos: John Keachie