Jun 15 2012 By Fraser Wilson
ASHFIELD manager Stevie Rankin saluted his players last night after they topped off a stunning season by defeating Premier League champions Irvine Meadow in the Cup Winners' Cup Final.
Field gained sweet revenge after losing to Meadow in the final of the West of Scotland Cup last month.
Captain Mark Thomson hammered home a 10th minute penalty after Sean Fraser had been fouled in the box and Rankin's men held on for a famous win.
The Saracen Park gaffer beamed: "It's a great result and puts the icing on the cake of a tremendous season.
"We started really well and went ahead early on but they came back into the game and attacked us and probably had the bulk of the pressure.
"But my keeper has only had one real save to make all game and that was in the first half. We kept creating opportunities and had two cleared off the line so I think we were well worth the win.
"It's no more than the players deserve. They have been brilliant this season."
Ashfield claimed their place in the final at Newlandsfield with a shock 1-0 victory away to Ayrshire giants Auchinleck Talbot.
And they wasted no time in getting in about Ayrshire's other top side last night as they had Meadow on the back foot in the early part of the game.
Thomson got his first sight of goal with two free kicks that forced Michael Wardrope to get his gloves dirty.
But the keeper was left grasping thin air when captain Thomson fired the 10th minute penalty high into the top left hand corner to hand Field the lead.
Meadow predictably fought back into the match but struggled to penetrate the stubborn Saracen Park defence.
Rankin, who is set to give his players fiour weeks off to recharge their batteries ahead of the new season, added: "I sit down with our coach Murdie Mackinnon every summer and discuss what we are going to try and achieve and how we are going to approach things.
"For the first time ever this season we decided to concentrate on the cups. Low and behold we get to the quarters of the Scottish Cup, the final of the West, which we were very unlucky to lose, and now we have won this.
"It's been a tremendous year and we have probably achieved a lot more than even I could have expected. Even in the league to finish in the top six was excellent.
"We were turned over once all season - away to Auchinleck - and the next game was crucial. We trained hard through the week and went out and beat Cumnock 4-1.
"That told me all I needed to know about the players and was probably the pivotal moment of our season."