It was the first outing of 2016 for these two sides at Barrfields, a ground where the league leaders had yet to win. And the record continued as a rampant home side ran in some late goals to get 2016 off to the perfect start.
It was West Kilbride’s first league blemish of the season, and it hots up the title race, with Spartans now very much in the mix for honours in June.
The match turned on a two minute period on the hour mark in the second half, when Spartans third goal all but killed the game. This was a real midfield contest for the large part but the home side looked the deadlier in the attacking third, especially through the movement and pace of David Griffins and Reece Allen’s up front.
It was a cagey opening from both sides, as a midfield scrap ensued for the opening 20 minutes. Both sides were well matched as the ball bounced around looking for a winner to grab hold of the game.
Largs had the first shot at goal from a set piece from just outside the box on 14 minutes. Ben Riley’s shot tested the acrobatics of Robert Jack, the West Kilbride keeper pulling off a fine stop in his first call to action.
The game needed a spark, with theses midfields cancelling one another out, and it duly arrived on 18 minutes with the first goal. Griffins took control of the ball down the right and went on surging run into the box. His squared cross picked out the run of Lee McShane to bundle home under Jack for the opener.
The home side looked the livelier now, boosted by their goal. West Kilbride finally called Largs keeper Cameron McDermid into action on 24 minutes, as Cameron Ferguson’s free kick was punched away to safety.
Griffins then went on another marauding run on 26 minutes, this time down the left, leaving defenders on his wake. His cross fell to Allen but Jack was equal to it, pulling off a fine stop with his legs.
As half time approached the league leaders tried to get the ball down and play, but without really testing McDermid in the home goal. Despite this it was a game very much in the balance at the interval.