FIRST DIVISION TITLES UP FOR GRABS
The destiny of this season`s first division league titles should become a little clearer after thiscoming weekend`s games, Grange are in the driving seat for the men`s while leaders Edinburgh University, Grove Menzieshill and Milne Craig Western are all in with a shout for the women`s crown.
Just two home games and six points to go before Grange can open the champagne corks in celebration of their first division triumph, and on Saturday they face Hillhead in the opening leg of the league denouement.
Grange are that crucial single point ahead of Bromac Kelburne and only a slip-up can prevent the trophy resting at Raeburn Place.
Coach David Knipe is anxious to play down the occasion, claiming that instead he is striving to improve his charges` performance in each game rather than get involved in pointless speculation. That might be an interesting aspiration given that he watched his squad put ten past Watsonians last weekend.
On paper the Hillhead encounter should be a simple affair, they have only taken one point from their last eight outings that is until last weekend when they beat Edinburgh University 3-2 at Peffermill. However, to be fair to Hillhead, injuries have been a contributory factor to the lack of progress.
Kelburne will sit in the wings hoping for a Grange slip-up with coach Gordon Shepherd emphasising the need to take the three points from Saturday`s encounter with Watsonians at Glasgow Green. That should not really be an issue, last time out it was 5-0 with Jack McKenzie scoring a hat-trick.
Western Wildcats could make fourth spot their own with a home win over an Edinburgh University side that are also going through a torrid time at the moment.
The automatic relegation spot at the foot of the table involves a head to head between Clydesdale and Gordonians at Titwood. The Aberdonians have given themselves a lifeline after two straight wins, but the Glasgow side have a single point advantage and also have a catch-up game against Grove Menzieshill on Sunday.
Although it could be argued that Menzieshill have little to play for at Titwood, they are already well established in third spot, Coach Chris Anderson will be anxious to build up a bit of form before the forthcoming play-offs which will also determine the clubs that will represent Scotland in Europe next season.
Last weekend was a mixed bag for the Taysiders, they went down 1-0 to Gordonians on the Saturday after dominating proceedings for most of the game, then beat Uddingston 4-3 the following day, Paul Martin finished top scorer with a double.
The destiny of the women`s first division title presents a fascinating scenario, Edinburgh University lead Grove and Milne Craig Western by one and three points respectively, but both have a game in hand of the students.
On Saturday, University have their second encounter with Grove, a repeat of last weekend`s 4-1 victory on Tayside would suit coach Sam Judge perfectly. Edinburgh were on the back foot in the first half, but took total command after the interval and scored four in the process.
Western will almost certainly make up some ground with a home fixture against bottom side CALA.
On Sunday the focus moves to Titwood where Western take on Grove in a catch-up fixture, the winner here could well take over pole position depending on other results. There is no form to guide the pundits, the sides have yet to meet this season, but traditionally this is always a close affair.
Fourth placed Wildcats have already booked their place in the play-offs and should see off Erskine Stewart`s Melville in Edinburgh to pick up their eleventh victory of the season. The Auchenhowie side were 2-0 winners in the first encounter in November, Emma Johnston and Kareena Cuthbert were on target.
The Watsonians v Dundee Wanderers clash could go some way to decide who finishes fifth in the table, at the moment the latter hold that position by a single point. The Taysiders certainly had the upper hand in the first fixture played last Sunday with a 6-1 victory.