THE dream died as a Buffs team, roared on by a terrific travelling support at a packed Barrfields, failed to stop Largs from reaching their second semi-final in the last three years.
Whether the occasion got to Kilwinning or whether they were maybe feeling the effects of their recent heavy programme, Buffs never produced the sort of form they are capable of and in the end were edged out by a Largs side who, in all honesty, deserved to go through to the next round.
After a cagey opening it Largs who posed the first threat with a John Robertson shot which went close in ten minutes, but the home side took the lead just four minutes later when a Buffs attack broke down deep in home territory and, with right back Stuart Hannah stranded upfield, Largs broke at speed and Neil Shearer was drawn out of position and outpaced by flying winger Gary Phillips whose low cross found Andy Monaghan in acres of space and he gave keeper Fraser Stewart no chance.
Former Pollok striker Joe Connolly fizzed an effort just past Stewart's right hand post midway through the half but, with 24 minutes gone, Kilwinning came within an ace of grabbing the equaliser when Ben Lewis flicked an Ian McCreadie corner onto Shearer but he seemed to be taken by surprise and could only stab the ball straight at keeper Stephen Connick.
Lewis, who was being watched by Killie boss Kenny Shiels, burst up the right and cut inside a defender before firing in an angled drive which was well saved by Connick as the interval approached then, within minutes of the restart, Robertson was lucky to stay on the park after a terrible two-footed tackle on Buffs captain Gary Russell which referee Don Robertson somehow deemed only worthy of a yellow card.
Stewart pulled off a great save from Connolly with 62 minutes gone then Gary Phillips and Euan Lindsay came close for the home side before Shearer came up to meet a Barry Fleeting free kick only to see Connick deny him yet again.
As the clock ticked down Buffs threw everything at their opponents in an attempt to salvage the tie but they could not find a way through a resolute Largs defence and were caught on the hop again two minutes from time when Thistle broke upfield once more and, when Hart brought substitute Kevin Struthers down in the box, Paul Coyle wrapped it up from the spot.