JAMIE McKim refused to be too downbeat as he heaped praise on his Burgh side despite watching them crash out of the West of Scotland Cup after a 5-1 loss against Hurlford.

While the scoreline suggests the Premiership outfit were comfortable throughout, Burgh did run them close for an hour before fading in the final 30 minutes.

The Ayrshire club currently sit eight points clear in the West Region Premiership having won 11 of their 12 matches in the league this season.

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McKim had urged his side to keep it tight early on but it was a nightmare start for the Keanie Park men who fell behind with just two minutes on the clock when Cammy Sinclair was caught cold from Sam Lidington’s 25-yard strike.

Clinical Hurlford doubled their advantage less than 10 minutes later when Richard McKillen nodded it low beyond Sinclair. 

But Burgh battled back from that point on with the Premiership table toppers not having it all their own way.

Sam Esplin continued his excellent run of form to halve the lead 10 minutes from the break after a quick Gary Nugent free-kick released the striker who made no mistake to finish coolly.

The Ford were rattled at this point as the visitors threatened to haul themselves level, going close from a corner but it was cleared off the line right on the stroke of half-time.

However, Hurlford composed themselves after the restart to add their third just five minutes in thanks to Ryan Caddis before his brother Liam added the final two late on to complete the rout and see Hurlford safely through.

The Gazette:

Hurlford United (red and white) are currently one of the leading junior sides in the country 

But while McKim was of course disappointed not to progress to the second round of the cup, he was immensely proud of his side for their battling display against the much-fancied Premiership side.

“They’re top of the Premiership for a reason,” McKim said. “Hurlford are the toughest tie you can get in junior football at the moment but we did well. Of course it was disappointing for us as you don’t want to get beat 5-1 in any match but in those circumstances, I think we did really well to run them close for an hour. 

“We had a really poor start and lost a goal inside the opening two minutes when the boys were still trying to get to grips with our game plan. We didn’t defend well for their second goal 20 minutes in either but Sam Esplin scored about 35 minutes in and we really had them rattled before the break. We had one cleared off the line and had a good go at them. We made them very uncomfortable.

The Gazette:  Jamie McKim was proud of his side's effort 

“We had chances against the top junior side in the country. When you look at their quality, you’ve got to take your chances. 

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“We came in at half-time and my players could barely hear me because of the shouting from the other dressing room. We tried to use that destruction to our advantage and Esplin had another chance after the break, but he just couldn’t take it.

“They went on and got their third and took it from there. We competed for an hour before they went on to add more near the end.”