Largs Thistle 4 Gartcairn 2

A double from Darryl Duffy helped propel Largs to ninth position in the West of Scotland Premier League table after a dominant display against Gartcairn on Saturday.

Manager Stuart Davidson had been demanding a top quality home display after previous disappointments against Troon and Pollok - and his players answered that call in some style.

Largs had fought out two close encounters against their Airdrie based opponents already this season, including a 1-1 draw in the opening game, and a memorable 3-2 victory in the Scottish Cup in November, but this was the first time that the sides had met at Barrfields Park.

This was only Thistle's third home game of 2024 and they got off to the perfect start thanks to a close range strike from Will Sewell, who scored goal number 19 of the season after only five minutes following a ball over the top and a good cross.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

The match was temporarily delayed as the corner flag had to be repaired at a gusty Barrfields - but the brief interruption didn't halt the Largs momentum, and the hosts kept driving forward before adding a second through former Rangers and Hibs striker Duffy on 27 minutes.

Having let slip a two goal lead against St Cadoc's the previous week, Davidson kept urging his side forward against a Gartcairn team who went into the match on good form, having beaten league leaders Clydebank and drawn 4-4 away to league champions Beith.

And Blair Devine scored his second goal of the season to give Thistle a comfortable three goal lead at half-time.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Blair Devine was man of the match Blair Devine was man of the match (Image: Newsquest)

Largs came close to adding another five minutes after the restart, but Duffy's effort was dramatically cleared off the line.

And the visitors briefly threatened a comeback when Mitchell netted from close range on 52 minutes to reduce the arrears.

But Thistle were determined not to make the same mistakes that had seen them emerge empty-handed against St Cadoc's, and within five minutes a quality strike from Duffy, his second of the afternoon, re-established the home side's three-goal lead.

The relentless pace of this match refused to let up and Gartcairn reduced the deficit to two goals for a second time on the hour mark thanks to a McShane effort.

Thistle rolled out the substitutions on 73 minutes to provide some fresh legs and help preserve their lead, as Jamie Martin and Liam Lapsley entered the fray for Davidson and Duffy.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Jamie Martin Jamie Martin (Image: Newsquest)

Martin has scored in three league games in a row against Clydebank, St Cadoc's and Irvine Meadow, and came close to making it four as he lashed in another long distance effort which flashed wide of the post on 81 minutes.

Devine, whose display earned him the supporters' man-of-the-match award, went close with two late efforts against a Gartcairn rearguard who struggled to cope with his pace throughout the afternoon.

Overall, this was a very satisfactory performance from Stuart Davidson's side against a team who have proved very awkward to beat lately, and have also given Thistle a fair amount of difficulty already this season - and a result and display which sets them up nicely for the visit of struggling Kirkintilloch Rob Roy to Barrfields on March 23.

And fans were rewarded with a strong home display, the first victory at Barrfields since a cup victory against Johnstone Burgh in November, and with Largs having moved up to ninth in the league, they will be looking for another high finish in the league, and will hope to home in on another win as they face Rob Roy for the first time in 2023-24 on March 30 in their next game.

LARGS: Wilton, McLeod, McMaster, McCreath, Hughes, Faulds, Devine, Davidson, Sewell, Duffy, McGrath. Subs: Adam, Ramsay, Martin, Lapsley, Cumming, Tennent, Johnston (GK).

Gartcairn: Pirie, Stevenson, Bain,Rumsby, Dunlop, McShane, Krol, Barr, Ferguson, Reilly, Mitchell. Subs: Boyle, McLauchlan, McKeown, Smith.