Titles to be decided this Super Saturday in National League
20 April 2017
In the ultimate weekend of the league season the scenario for the destiny of the National League 1 titles is a mirror image, Grange and Edinburgh University only need to win their last remaining game to take the men`s and women`s titles respectively.
Grange are within sight of their first league title since 2002, the assignment is to beat Western Wildcats at Fettes this weekend and the silverware will head for their base at Raeburn Place. With one game left Grange are a point ahead of 12-times champions Bromac Kelburne, so the destiny of the title lies in their own hands.
Coach David Knipe is not one for predictions or speculation, instead he is content to let the steady improvement in his squad`s performance on the field do the talking. This was the case at Auchenhowie in February when Grange won 4-1, the goals coming from Captain Cammie Fraser, Todd Mills, Luke Cranney and Dominic Wild from a penalty corner - a similar result would suit Knipe perfectly.
But the Wildcats` claws might not be that easily clipped, recently they had a run of four straight victories, scoring 19 goals without reply, but fell from grace two weeks ago by losing 2-1 at home to Edinburgh University. In addition, Harry Dunlop`s men have a chance of a top four spot and may need to take something from the Grange match to secure that.
The Wildcats lead Uddingston by two points and a superior goal difference, but while they are striving to frustrate Grange the Lanarkshire side are in the North East looking for the crucial three points from already relegated Gordonians. Should the Wildcats lose and Uddingston win, then it is the latter that will enter the top four play-offs.
Meanwhile, Kelburne may still be hoping for a Grange slip-up but must make sure of the three points from their away fixture at Edinburgh University to keep up the pressure. The Paisley side won the first encounter 5-1 but a similar outcome may still be too little too late.
At the other end of the table there is a scramble to avoid the relegation play-offs with three teams all on 17 points and Edinburgh University only a point ahead in sixth place. Watsonians are away to third placed Grove Menzieshill who won the first game comfortably 4-0 in Edinburgh. The Taysiders have made third place their own for some time now.
Also on the 17 point level are Hillhead and Clydesdale and they clash head-to-head this weekend. The home side have had a rather miserable time in the second half of the season, seven reversals and a draw, the latter a 2-2 score against this weekend`s opponents Clydesdale. A series of injuries have greatly hampered the Hillhead cause but the sequence was broken three weeks ago with a 3-2 victory away at Edinburgh University.
In contrast, Clydesdale seemed dead and buried a few weeks ago, and almost slipping into the automatic relegation spot, but back-to-back victories over Gordonians and Grove Menzieshill two weeks ago have rescued the situation.
The carrot for the winner of this all-Glasgow confrontation could be sixth place and absolution from the relegation play-offs should Edinburgh University fail to see off Kelburne at Peffermill.
The destiny of the women`s National League 1 title is also a simple scenario, Edinburgh University lead Grove Menzieshill by a single point and only need a home win over Watsonians to retain their title.
They might be feeling confident going into the game as the students won the first encounter 5-0 and Watsonians are firmly placed in the safety of mid-table. With Dundee Wanderers at their heels, however, Watsonians will be out to secure a top five position as well as disrupting any prospect of a title party at Peffermill on Saturday.
Grove Menzieshill and Milne Craig Clydesdale Western meet for the second time in a fortnight, the last outing saw the former emerge comfortable 4-1 winners and will hope for a similar result to retain second spot. However, whatever the result the two sides will meet each other again in the first leg of the European play-offs in two weeks’ time.
Also secure in the play-offs are Western Wildcats in fourth place, they will hope to augment their 34 points tally against ninth placed Hillhead. Hillhead are currently on six points and are guaranteed to finish in ninth position, but will hope to finish the league campaign on a high.
In theory Kelburne, five points behind Dundee Wanderers and with a game in hand, could still escape the relegation play-offs, but they would certainly have to beat Wanderers this weekend on Tayside to have any chance. The omens are not great, the Paisley side lost 3-0 in the first game at home with Emily Dark, Vikki Bunce and Charlotte Watson on target. Wanderers also have Watsonians in their sights as they gun for a top five finish should results go their way.
With CALA already relegated this weekend`s opponents Erskine Stewart`s Melville might fancy adding to their ten points, but they will still face the play-offs to stave off the drop. Erskine Stewart’s Melville are a guaranteed finisher in eighth spot.
Grange will be the fourth side in the play-offs, they finished runners-up in the second division, while GHK are automatically promoted having finished in pole position.