In 2009, Winton became the only team to win the North Ayrshire Cup in three successive seasons.

Promotion Bid Is Still Ongoing For Winton
Tom Ferrie at Winton Park
This game (on 28 March 2009) was effectively a promotion eliminator and it was Winton who prevailed and stayed in the hunt in wat is proving to be a fascination chase for the step-up to the SuperLeague.  Winton’s winning goal came from a moment of sheer brilliance from Niall Kennedy with five minutes to go but they had to battle to earn this victory as the Vale proved to be a team on the up.
      Derek Frye’s men took the game to their visitors and for the first part of the game, they proved to be the better side and after five minutes, John Gallagher saw a shot go high over the bar.
  Hamilton almost hit the target after thirteen minutes trying to flick on a corner on the right.  A minute after this, a bit of head tennis saw Muir being set up by Hamilton but his low drive was held by Muir in the Darvel goal.  Winton again tried to force the play and on twenty-seven minutes, a flick on to the back post saw Muir force a save by Stewart.  Despite this opening dominance, Darvel almost got the lead on thirty-three minutes when Kirkland fed Chris Lynn and he got in on goal but Stevie O’Neill saved with his feet and touched his shot on to the bar and Wilson cleared.  Just before the half-time whistle, a low cross from Lynn was just missed by Kirkland as Darvel almost got a half-time lead.
A minute into the second half and there were a couple of pivotal moments when Winton were forced into an early substitution taking off top scorer Stephen McAvoy and then Darvel’s David Kirkland missed a sitter when put through on the right.  Dallas proved to be a danger and on fifty-four minutes, he put in a tremendous low ball from the right but Lynn’s side-foot effort was tame and O’Neill saved.  Kirkland got one on one with O’Neill on sixty-one minutes but the blond striker was denied by the experience of the Winton keeper and with the loose ball, Billy Easton blocked his second effort and David Wilson mopped up the danger.  On seventy-four minutes, a curling ball from Gallagher saw Scott Adam get a header on the end of it but it looped up and Stewart saved.
      Another tremendous chance was passed up by the Rovers on seventy-eight minutes when a cross from the right only needed tapped in but Milliken failed to get the decisive touch on it and Darvel scrambled a corner.
  Dallas got free on the right on eighty-one minutes and got one-on-one with O’Neill but again, the Winton man blocked his effort.  This game was fast approaching the stage of ‘next goal the winner’ and Darvel’s Kirkland, with six minutes to go, hooked the ball over from eight yards out. 
This proved to be a spur for the Rovers who ran up the park and in true Roy of the Rovers style, Kennedy ran at the Darvel defence and beat four defenders before getting one-on-one with Stewart and, showing immense composure, stroked the ball below the Vale keeper to give the Winton a priceless winner.
      The Winton team was O’Neill, Wilson, Millikan, Graham, Easton, Muir, Paton, Gallagher, McAvoy, Adam and Hamilton with substitutes Frye, Kennedy, Bonner and Gilmour.
                 Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 1 April 2009

Winton continued their recent winning run, with an easier victory than the scoreline suggests, to progress to the quarter-finals of the top domestic knockout competition.  The two teams faced up to each for the second week in a row at a heavy and wind-swept Recreation Park.  Visiting captain Billy Easton made the right choice of taking the wind advantage in the first hall as Winton were quickly out of the blocks, taking the game to their hosts.
      After eighteen minutes, a long kick-out by Stevie O’Neill was flicked into the path of Hamilton by Milliken.
  The former took a touch to beat a defender but his shot was gathered by a diving save from Stewart.  Niall Kennedy, on the scoresheet with a wonder goal seven days earlier, earned a starting place and was on target again.  ln the twenty-fifth minute, Gilmour broke out of defence and passed to Hamilton on the left wing and he flighted a perfect hanging cross for Kennedy to sidefoot the ball past Stewart for the visitors to take the lead.
      Winton doubled their advantage a minute later good after pressurising play forced a corner.
  Kennedy played the ball short to Frye and he crossed to the front post where Darvel’s Kelly sliced the ball past his own keeper.  George Bonner was yellow-carded in thirty-two minutes for a high challenge on Kirkland.  Again, O’Neill took advantage of the wind in thirty-nine minutes to send a long kick out deep into the Darvel half.  Milliken controlled then crossed from the left to Hamilton whose shot back across goal looked netbound until Stewart stretched to turn it round the post.
      Four minutes from half-time, Hamilton headed on to John Gallagher who turned a defender and struck a rising shot over the bar from ten yards out.
  Darvel closed the half when Lynn also fired a rising shot over the bar from the edge of the box.  Darvel were reduced to ten men just five minutes into the second half when Gallagher latched on to another Hamilton-headed knock-down.  Gallagher slipped the ball through the legs of last man Johnston but the Darvel full-back blocked the Winton forward as he ran in on goal.  Winton even had a strong claim for a penalty from the resultant free-kick.  Parker jumped with his arm raised to block Frye’s free-kick but the referee was unsighted.
      Parker was booked in fifty-three minutes and Frye yellow-carded six minutes later as tempers began to fray.
  Winton were trying to take advantage of their extra man.  Milliken stretched Darvel on the wide left, played in Hamilton and again Stewart thwarted the Winton centre blocking his shot with his body.  Stewart had an Artur Boruc moment with ten minutes to go when a poor pass-back by substitute Black saw the Darvel keeper swing and miss.  Hamilton, following in, rounded the keeper and looked to the easiest of chances to shoot into empty net but screwed his shot wide of the post.  Winton may have been left to rue their missed chances.
      In the dying minutes, Wilson had to make a goal-line clearance from Kirkland’s close-range shot.
  The ball was not cleared properly and fell to Lynn who, from the edge of the box, placed a perfect left-foot shot high past O’Neill.  As the hosts pushed on for an equaliser, again Winton broke down the park, Hamilton ran through, beat the defender and went through on Stewart.  He rounded the keeper but he pulled him down and surprisingly earned only a yellow card.  Hamilton wanted to take the penalty but regular spot-kicker Gilmour got the nod.  Stewart, however, guessed right and pushed the Winton penalty round the post for the last action of the match.
The teams were
Darvel Juniors – Stewart, Harvey, Johnston, Sloss, Parker, Nolan, Roy, I Bonner, Lynn, Kirkland and Kelly with substitutes McGhee, Martin, O’Connor, Mclntyre and Black.
Winton Rovers - O’Neill; G Bonner, Millikan, Graham, Easton, Gilmour, Kennedy, Frye, Adam, Hamilton and Gallagher with substitutes Wilson, Muir and Paton.   
                 Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 8 April 2009

Tom Ferrie from Burnside Park
Winton picked up another three points (on 18 April 2009) in their chase for promotion courtesy of a hat-trick from John Gallagher and a Graeme Hamilton double.  The visitors were first to attack when in two minutes, Milliken ran down the left and cut a ball back from the bye-line for Hamilton but the Kirk defence cleared.  A better chance in seven minutes fell to Scott Adam from a Colin Frye free-kick and the striker chested the ball down before lashing his shot over the bar.  A poor clearance from goal put Winton’s keeper under a bit of pressure but Kris Stewart’s return was held by Stevie O’Neill.
      The opening goal for the Rovers came in fourteen minutes when a comer on the right was headed on and after a bit of head-tennis.
  Gallagher at the back post set up Hamilton who headed home from six yards.  It was 2-0 four minutes later when Hamilton chased a through ball and although Menzies came out to block him, the loose ball was picked up by Gallagher and he shot into the far comer of the net.  Winton should have made it three when Scott Adam saw a shot saved and Menzies denied Hamilton with a second block in quick succession on thirty-four minutes.  Muirkirk had their best spell of the game as the interval approached and a comer on the right was headed wide by Milliken at the back post.  A few bookings towards the end of the first half eventually saw Craig Lennox get his second yellow card and it left the home side a mountain to climb to get back into this game.
      Milliken was proving to be a thorn in the flesh of Muirkirk down the left and after a couple of minutes of the second half, he cut in only to be blocked and then from a knockdown, he smashed a volley from inside the six-yard box over the bar.
  Another chance tor the Rovers saw a miss-hit shot from distance picked up by Muir but Menzies blocked and from this clearance, Stewart ran in on goal but O’Neill stood firm to block his effort.  On fifty-five minutes, a penalty was awarded to the Winton after Adam’s run was abruptly halted inside the box and John Gallagher struck the ball past Menzies to make it 3-0.  Stewart got free on the right on fifty-nine minutes and this forced O’Neill to dive full length but the shot was just wide of the target.  Menzies was proving to be an inspiration tor the home side as he pulled off a tremendous block from a good low drive from Millikan on the break down the left.
Hamilton made it 4-0 on seventy minutes when a through ball saw Gallagher hold the ball up for Hamilton who shot and saw Menzies again save but Hamilton followed up to tuck the ball past him and into the net.
  Muirkirk had a chance oi a consolation when McMurdo cut the ball back to Stewart but he hooked his shot high over the bar with the Rovers defence struggling.  The final action of the game saw Milliken get another shot on target - this time again denied by Menzies but Gallagher followed up to tap the loose ball home from six yards.
      The teams were
Muirkirk – Menzies, Carman, Donachie,  Thomson, Lyndsay, Lennox, Staines, Nisbet, Stewart,  McMurdo and McCombe with substitutes Mclnnes, McDonald,  Gibson, Ward and Riddell.
Winton Rovers – O’Neill, Wilson, Milliken. Graham, Easton, Gilmour, Muir, Paton, Adam, Hamilton and Gallagher with substitutes Bonner, Kennedy. Paton. McAvoy and Newman.
The referee was M McLean.
                 Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 22 April 2009

Tom Ferrie reporting from Ardeer Stadium
Winton had to dig deep to get the three points which brings the Ardrossan side up to fourth in the league and still with an outside chance of promotion (on 20 April 2009).  It took the visitors three minutes to get the first effort on goal and it came after Scott Henderson flapped at a cross and the loose ball was hit over the bar by Adam. Ardeer’s first chance came on seven minutes when a poor clearance saw Darren Quinn try to curl a shot home but it was too high.
took the lead on nine minutes when John Gallagher was fed a good ball in from the left and he turned his man brilliantly to give him loads of time to place a shot past Henderson and into the corner of the net. Chances were being created by Rovers and on thirteen minutes, a break down the left saw the ball come to Kennedy at the back post and he volleyed the bail down but past the far post.
  Hamilton got free on the left a couple of minutes after this and set up Adam who engineered some space for himself but Henderson tipped his measured shot past the post.  Winton did get the ball in the net for a second time but the referee adjudged that Gallagher  On thirty-five minutes, Paul Monan almost got a goal back when he saw a shot on target cleared off the line by Willie Easton and from this, Gilmour broke down the right and fired in a great cross behind the Thistle defence but Hamilton's volley went wide of target.
      Kean got free off the Winton defence but could only shoot wide of the target.
  Five minutes into the second half, a chance fell to Kennedy who fired in a great shot but it was too straight at Henderson who blocked the effort.  On sixty minutes, a comer-kick on the right saw Hunter rise unchallenged but his header was too straight at Stevie O'Neill.  Ardeer were playing better now in the second half and Winton were looking nervous and tried to play on the break but were frequently found to be offside.  On sixty-four minutes, a Patterson free-kick from twenty-five yards was just about dealt with by O'Neill, giving a few heart-stopping moments for the Rovers fans and Quinn saw a shot from the angle saved by O'Neill with three minutes remaining but Winton held out for three valuable points.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 22 April 2009

Tom Ferrie at Winton Park
If Winton do manage to get promoted, they can look back at how difficult they made it for themselves. This was no exception with the hosts down to ten men for the majority of the game alter Scott Adam was harshly sent off for a forward’s tackle.  It took eight minutes for the first chance with John Gallagher beating the Craigmark offside trap and trying to round the big keeper who got a touch on the ball to knock it wide.
      Winton scored in thirteen minutes when a shot was blocked initially and then a follow-up saw Douglas touch the ball on to the post and Graham Muir had the easiest of tasks to tap
home.  The game was lively enough with some skirmishes on and off the ball to note.  On the half hour, a cracking through-ball saw Adam get through but, alas, he couldn't take the ball with him and Douglas mopped up the danger.  Adam then saw red on thirty-four minutes for serious foul play and it was a decision that perhaps merited a yellow card but with the game simmering then, the referee saw fit to send the striker off.
      Winton rallied as the first half ended and immediately after the restart went 2-0 up thanks to a penalty won by a crude challenge by Harper on Milliken.
  John Gallagher took the responsibility and sent Douglas the wrong way to give the Rovers a cushion.  Craigmark one back on sixty-seven minutes when John Ewing beat the offside trap and slid the ball past Stevie O'Neill.  Craigmark began pressing and a thirty-five yard Stef Holland free-kick was comfortably held by O'Neill.  Then with ten minutes remaining Winton had a couple of chances to extend their lead when Gallagher sent Hamilton free.  His shot was touched past the post by Douglas and from the resultant corner, Easton's effort was flicked on and Gallagher's back-post volley was blocked.  Winton slightly rode their luck late on but gained another valuable three points.
The Winton team was O’Neill, Wilson, Milliken, Graham, Easton, Muir, Kennedy, Gilmour, Adam, Hamilton and Gallagher with substitutes Bonner, Frye, Paton and McAvoy.
Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 29 April 2009

by Tom Ferrie at Portland Park
Alas, it wasn’t to be for Winton in their late quest for promotion as they lost their final Stagecoach Ayrshire League game to end their hopes (on 2 May 2009).  Despite dominating the game, the final touch was not there and although Dalry went down to ten men just before half time.  Winton couldn’t capitalise.
      Winton started a bit nervously after the first minute of the game when a routine cross was fumbled by O’Neill and Friels got a shot in on target that Easton cleared.
  Winton came back with an effort where Gallagher got a header in but didn’t trouble the keeper.  On twenty minutes a chance came for the Winton when a throw-in was held up by Gallagher who fed Hamilton but Dalry’s Jamieson got the block in.
      Winton were on top as the first half progressed but there were some scares as some poor control saw O’Neill under a bit of pressure but his deft footwork saw the Rovers survive.
  The bookings tally began to rise as by half time Collins, Sanderson, Cusack and Rae all saw their names taken by the referee.  Duncan sent the pass of the game to Grant Collins on forty-two minutes when he ran on and tried to chip O’Neill but the ball went over the bar.  The game exploded on forty-four minutes when Cameron McKinnell aimed a boot at Jamie Paton and referee McWilliam had no option but to send the centre-half off.
      Dalry may have been down to ten men for the second half but that never stopped them and on forty-nine minutes, they went ahead when Cusack got free on the left and his low cross was met at the back post by Jamie Friels who knocked the ball home.
  Dalry’s Cusack saw a free-kick curl into the near post on fifty-five minutes but O’Neill was sharp to save.  Winton then began to dominate and on fifty-seven minutes, a deep back-post cross saw Hamilton get the effort in but Rae cleared.  Winton continued to press and a free kick saw Scott Adam get an effort in but it was cleared and then a Billy Gilmour effort seemed to be handled in the box but the referee never gave the shout.  Milliken got free on the left on sixty-one minutes and, after his effort was blocked, Gallagher’s effort went past the post.
      Milliken, on sixty-four minutes, almost chipped the keeper but the way the game was going saw Winton just not getting the final pass into the right feet.
  On sixty-eight minutes, a flashing header by Milliken went just past the post.  The frustration for the Rovers boiled over with five minutes to go when McAvoy clattered in late to Duncan and the referee sent the striker off.  In injury time, Winton still saw a couple of chances cleared off the line but promotion wasn’t to be. 
The teams were
Winton Rovers - O’Neill, Wilson, Milliken, Graham, Easton, Muir, Paton, Gilmour, Adam Hamilton and Gallagher with substitutes McAvoy, Bonner, Kennedy, Murray and Moore.
Dalry Thistle - Ward, Duncan, Strain, Jamieson, McKinnell, Fleeting, Friels, Collins, Sanderson, Cusack and Rae with substitutes Breslin, Bradford, Stewart, Rankine and Brown.
                 Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 6 May 2009

Annbank won 5-4 on penalties.
Spot-Kick Heroes and Villians
by Frank Cassidy at Winton Park
Annbank needed penalties to see off a spirited second half comeback from Winton in an entertaining match (on 4 May 2009) in this Ayrshire Weekly Press Cup quarter-final match.  It was a dream start for the home side as they took an early lead when Bankies failed to clear their lines and Billy Gilmour scored with a powerful shot in the fifth minute.  There was plenty of goalmouth action at both ends, although Annbank's equaliser came after a bad mistake by George Bonner that presented Michael McCann with the easiest of chances. 
      This gave them a lift and they were the better side for the remaining thirty minutes of the first half with a long range shot from Tommy Sloan being deflected for a corner.  Then a superb crossfield pass split the Winton defence and a menacing cross from Paul McKenzie found Ian Convery but his shot was blocked.  Just before the break, McKenzie spotted keeper Stevie O’Neill off his line and tried to chip him but the attempt sailed over the bar.
      While Rovers had started the first half in whirlwind fashion, their opponents performed a similar early assault on goal which paid dividends in fifty-two minutes.
  A fast-flowing move involving several players had the Winton defence stretched in all directions and Graeme Carmichael gave Bankies the lead.  Ironically, in another reversal of the first half script, Winton grabbed the initiative and dominated the last thirty-five minutes.  They created many chances with the best coming from a spectacular Graham Muir volley following a spell of pressure after a free kick.  Scorer Gilmour then found Graeme Hamilton with a corner but his header was straight at the keeper in the sixty-eighth minute.

      Their hard work paid off with less than five minutes remaining though, when Giimour slipped a ball through to attacking full-back Keir Milliken.
  Without breaking stride, the big defender gathered the ball and set up John Gallagher who showed great composure to score.  No further goals meant a penalty shoot-out was needed to separate the teams and a hero and sinner was about to be found.  The unfortunate first victim was Muir who slammed his kick past the post to give Annbank advantage and they could have taken a 4-3 lead with their fourth kick.  Up stepped hero number one when a brilliant diving save from O’Neill kept out Carmichael’s kick and made it all square.  There was one more goal each before it was Milliken’s tum for the first sudden-death kick which Brian McGarrity palmed over the bar.  In the final dramatic action of the night, Robbie McVey gave O’Neill no chance with a rocket shot and we finally had a winner.
      The Winton team was Stevie O’Neill, Ross Farro, Keir Milliken, George Bonnar, Billy Easton, Billy Gilmour, Jamie Paton, John Gallagher, Stephen McAvoy, Graeme Hamilton and Graham Muir.  Martin Graham substituted for George Bonnar in sixty-nine minutes and Niall Kennedy for Graeme Hamilton in seventy-eight minutes.
                 Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 6 May 2009

Winton Win Cup With Goal Rush
by Stewart McConnell at Victoria Park
Record-breaking Winton swept aside jaded Vics to become the first team to win the North Ayrshire Cup three years running (on 14 May 2009).  Gifted young striker Niall Kennedy led the front line in style with a double in a contest which was much more one-sided than the pre-match hype suggested.  You suspected, however, that the home side were simply relieved that a season which had promised so much but delivered nothing had come to an end and they could wipe the slate clean and gear up for an expected assault on promotion next term.
      Winton’s greater aerial ability and experience proved assertion that his side needs major restructuring during the pre-season.
  That, though, is to take nothing away from the wily visitors who bossed the whole game and dominated in every department.  The first real effort came the way of Vics in six minutes as a Jordan White header from inside the box was well saved by visiting keeper Stevie O’Neill.  Back at the other end, two minutes later, a twenty-two-yard shot from Graham Muir went spinning just past a post.  A well-worked move from the hosts saw Gary McGrath send a delightful through ball to Rod Lennox, whose strong effort from twelve yards in ten minutes was saved well by O’Neill.
      Former Winton keeper Robert McGoogan came to the Westenders’ rescue in twenty-two minutes when he confidently caught a fierce John Gallagher effort but three minutes later McGoogan dropped a harmless-looking cross and Kennedy was on hand to nudge the ball over the line from all of four yards.
  Vics were desperately unlucky not to get back into the game in twenty-nine minutes as a well-flighted free-kick from Euan Robertson was headed by Scott ‘Naka’ Hayes but brilliantly tipped on to the post by O’Neill.  On the stroke of half-time, Vics were desperately unlucky not to be level as Willie Bowler set up McGrath, whose fierce shot from twelve yards smashed off the crossbar and went over the top.
      Six minutes after the break, Vics were denied what looked like a fair penalty when Lennox looked to be impeded inside the box.
  Then, as Winton went on the attack again, a six-yard John Gallagher effort glanced wide.  In fifty-five minutes, another penalty claim was turned away as Lennox appeared to be fouled inside the box by McGoogan.  The advantage was doubled four minutes later as highly experienced John Gallagher went on a darting run before picking out Graham Muir to smash the ball home from twelve yards.  Muir then sent a shot over the bar from twenty yards in sixty-five minutes.
      Vics refused to give up and eight minutes later, a Darryl Boyd effort from eighteen yards dipped just over the top.
  In seventy-eight minutes, Rovers further increased their lead as Kennedy sent an unstoppable shot low into the net from sixteen yards after being set up by Gallagher.  Three minutes from time, Jamie Paton turned brilliantly before blasting home from sixteen yards to round off a surprisingly easy victory.
The teams were
Irvine Victoria – McGoogan, Robertson, Dale, Smith, Timoney, Gilmour, Bowler, McGrath.  White, Lennox and Hayes with substitutes McIntosh, Cunningham, Flannery, Boyd and Patterson.
Winton Rovers - O’Neill, Wilson, Milliken, Graham, Easton, Muir, Paton, Gilmour, Kennedy, Hamilton and Gallagher with substitutes Murray, George and Cook.

      Top target-man Niall Kennedy, whose dazzling double ensured Ardrossan Winton Rovers won the North Ayrshire Cup for the third year running says the trophy triumph has helped ease the pain of missing out on promotion.  Rovers defeated Irvine Victoria 4-0 in a repeat of last year’s final and have improved considerably under the guidance of boss Derek Frye, emerging as one of the top sides in the Stagecoach Ayrshire District League.  Former under-21s player Kennedy, aged twenty-two, savoured the first triumph of his junior career and hopes more success will come after they missed out narrowly on promotion to the Super First Division in the season just past.  He said “It’s great to score a couple of goals in the final.  We played well and deserved our win.  I was delighted with the finish for my second goal.  We were so close to promotion but hopefully we can make another challenge again next season."
      Skipper and veteran Billy Easton, who was part of the two previous triumphs and is the longest-serving player at Winton Park with seven years of experience, paid tribute to his side.
  He said "It’s a great achievement to win the cup three years running.  That will be difficult for anyone to top.  We played well and scored some good goals.”  Winton have re-signed the vast majority of their squad from last season although Colin Frye has been released.

                 Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 20 May 2009