by David Brockett and Jack Crawford

Clydebank boss Kieran McAnespie praised Nicky Little after he scored twice in his side’s 2-0 win against Kilbirnie Ladeside at Lochburn Park on Saturday - but taunted the forward for not securing his hat-trick.

The striker’s first-half brace was enough to sink ex-Bankies manager Budgie McGhie’s Kilbirnie side as McAnespie’s men recorded their fourth win of the season and moved up to second in the Premiership.

The striker had a chance to secure his hat-trick when Clydebank caught their opponents on the break but was denied, and McAnespie wants the fan favourite to push on.

He said: “Nicky knows where the back of the net is, but his work rate, endeavour and all-round game allows him to create those chances. He had a great chance to get his hat-trick - he seems to keep getting doubles so, hopefully, he’ll find a hat-trick soon.”

Bankies boss Kieran McAnespie made two changes to the side that beat Kilwinning, with Michael McIndoe filling in at centre-back in place of Alan Vezza, while Chris Dooley replaced Adam Asghar at right back.

And it was a blistering start to proceedings as Bankies went ahead inside just two minutes.

Neat interplay saw Jordan Shelvey play Little through on goal before he coolly picked his spot from the edge of the area.

Clydebank then doubled their lead after fifteen minutes, when Cammy McClair’s through ball found Little perfectly, who netted again to register his seventh goal of the season.

Kilbirnie began to dominate most of the possession in the middle of the park, but the Blasties only real chance of note came at the start of the second period when David Anderson’s shot flew narrowly wide of the right-hand post.

Just after the hour mark, Jordan Shelvey had the chance to put the game to bed. Ref Stephen Brown played a good advantage when Little was fouled on the half way line, with Shelvey bursting in on goal only to scuff his shot at the last second.

And Little could’ve completed his hat-trick when his header from a corner was blocked, only to stab the rebound wide.

With less than ten minutes to go, Bankies should have sealed the win with a fantastic team move.

Good work down the right flank saw McClair feed Little whose cross found Sean Higgins at the back post. Higgins nodded the ball back across goal for Chris Black, but Ladeside stopper Grant Hay did well to thwart Bankies.

Ladeside should have been right back in it just a minute later with a promising attack. Jon Scullion’s whipped cross was met by the head of ex-Bankie Joel Kasubandi, but the striker somehow headed the ball wide from all of six yards.

As the clock ticked down, Bankies should have added at least a third goal to cap an impressive performance. First Steven Higgins’ floated cross was headed wide by sub Del Hepburn, with Sean Higgins then almost scoring from the half-way line – only for Ladeside’s stopper to claw the ball to safety.

Bankies are back on the road on Saturday with a trip to Glenafton Athletic – kick off at Loch Park is 2pm - before facing current leaders Hurlford United in two weeks’ time.

But despite a potential top of the table clash looming, McAnespie admits he isn’t looking at that game at the moment and all eyes are on this weekend’s fixture against Athletic.

He said: “It’s not a position we expected to be in, especially after our start to the season last year.

“But we’ve not set any targets and we’re just taking it game by game. If you look at it now then it’s a top of the table clash but it could all change by then.

“Despite the fixture list maybe working in their favour so far, Hurlford have won six games out of six. You can’t turn your nose up at that. At the moment our focus is entirely on Glenafton this weekend.”