Competition heating up already in indoor National League 1
16 December 2016
Suddenly the men`s indoor hockey first division competition has taken a twist as the traditional two horse race between champions Inverleith, and nearest rivals Grove Menzieshill, is being challenged by Bromac Kelburne, the outdoor league leaders. The Paisley side lead the first division by one point having seen off Inverleith, drawn with Grove Menzieshill, and defeated Uddingston Riva on the opening day of competition.
There seems to be an air of ambition in the Kelburne camp, top outdoor players appear to be taking to the indoor version of the game. Ten goal Johnny Christie will look to increase his personal tally while foreign imports Nick Finlayson, from New Zealand, and German Jonas Nommensen, have pitched in their experience.
The Morton brothers Lee and Craig, along with former Scotland player Iain Scholefield will run the midfield and the larger than life Josh Cairns remains solid at the back while converting set pieces at the other end. Kelburne will hope to maintain their pole position with six points from their outing against Clydesdale and Western Wildcats.
Stuart Neave, coach of champions Inverleith, is content to take the positives out of last weekend`s events - after all his side still sit in second place only a point adrift of Kelburne. Neave admitted: "Whilst we were disappointed to lose the first game against Kelburne, we did not take our chances, and therefore did not deserve to win it."
The Inverleith coach then praised his praised his squad for the recovery against Grange and then rivals Grove Menzieshill. "We put in a tremendous (defensive) performance against Menzieshill, and so have to be relatively happy with six points from the weekend given the limitations of our squad."
This weekend the Edinburgh side are up against Hillhead and Clydesdale, but as usual Neave is cautious: "Both sides have good players who I`m sure will not make things easy for us."
Neave enduring last weekend with a severely truncated squad due to injuries and players unavailable, he will be hoping that some of his squad return to duty and provide more playing options.
Other pre-championships favourites Grove Menzieshill play the same opposition, but coach Bruce Cuthill will be satisfied with nothing less than the six points on offer having dropped five last weekend.
Grange have done the hard bit by playing both Grove Menzieshill and Inverleith last week, now David Knipe`s charges must set about the task of picking up valuable points against Western Wildcats and Uddingston Riva.
With many of their successful outdoor squad available in the ranks, it is expected that Grange will now make their presence felt as they did in the 7-2 win over Hillhead in their final game last weekend - Irishman Frank Ryan and Callum Milne were top scorers.
Uddingston, who finished a very creditable third in the championship last season, have only a point to their name after drawing with Wildcats and being on the wrong end of a thumping by Kelburne. The Lanarkshire side will hope to pick up something from their opening game against Hillhead, although their second outing against Grange could be a more problematic.
Clydesdale, Western Wildcats and Hillhead all have difficult assignments this weekend but will battle hard for all available points.
It is still very early days in the women`s competition but already Dundee Wanderers look invincible, last weekend they secured three back-to-back victories and slammed in 23 goals in the process.
This weekend they take on Milne Craig Western, last season`s beaten finalists, and Aberdeen Bon-Accord. If they can clock up two further resounding victories it will be a significant drive towards their fifth consecutive crown.
Tayside rivals Grove Menzieshill look the most likely challengers, they are unbeaten and sit in second spot, but to maintain the pressure the likes of Iona Armour, Susan Hamilton and the Stott mother and daughter combination of Pauline and Katie, must keep up their scoring record against strong resistance from Wildcats and Edinburgh University. Last weekend Grove Menzieshill bagged eight goals in two games, with five conceded.
Edinburgh University have the exact same goals stats from the opening weekend. The Edinburgh students have already made their mark, they drew 3-3 with Western followed by a 5-2 victory over CALA. Their opening joust with Wildcats could be the game of the day this weekend, both sides have already tasted success on the first day.
Bon-Accord, Inverleith and CALA have yet to break their duck in the competition, but as they play each other in at least one fixture on the day, someone will make progress up the table. Bon Accord has the strongest goal difference of the bottom three, with Dundee Wanderers inflicting heavy damage on both Inverleith and CALA last weekend. Bon Accord will face Wanderers this weekend and will hope to put the shutters up against the free-scoring defending champs. It’s a three-game weekend for Inverleith as they face Edinburgh University as well as the games against Bon Accord and CALA. CALA’s other game is against Western Wildcats.