League action and women’s semi-finals in a big weekend of hockey
09 March 2017
There is some fantastic league action to look forward to this weekend, not to mention women’s semi-finals in a big weekend of hockey.
Defending men’s National league champions Bromac Kelburne and second placed Grange have opened up a sizeable points gap over the chasing pack, but this weekend they will have to maintain that advantage without their international players - they are on Scotland duty in Belfast.
Kelburne will have to dispose of Hillhead without the services of the influential Lee Morton, but Gordon Shepherd`s charges will feel that is not beyond their capability. Kelburne have dropped only three points all season, while the Glasgow side have slipped back to sixth place after three defeats in a row since the end of the winter shutdown.
The two sides met on the opening day of the campaign where the champions emerged 4-2 winners with Ben Peterson grabbing a brace.
Grange are still five points behind Kelburne, albeit with a game in hand, and they travel to the North East to take on bottom side Gordonians. The Aberdonians will be on a high after last weekend`s 2-1 win over Edinburgh University while Grange will have to maintain the pressure on Kelburne without captain Cammie Fraser and Duncan Riddell in the midfield. Last time out Grange gave the Aberdonians a 7-2 defeat, striker Luke Cranney claimed a hat-trick, and he has been a regular on the score sheet all season.
Back-to-back defeats against Grange and Kelburne last weekend have severely dented Grove Menzieshill`s challenge for honours, although they have still managed to hold on to third spot. The Taysiders have the chance to consolidate that position with a home win over Western Wildcats but they need to retain their composure after the game against Grange.
Watsonians have the chance to move up the table with a home win over an Uddingston side that seems to produce a different level of performance from one week to the next, but have moved up to fifth place in the table after beating Hillhead last weekend.
On Sunday Clydesdale entertain Hillhead in a catch-up fixture at Titwood; while Clydesdale still remain in second bottom spot in the table, they picked up a couple of draws against Watsonians and Edinburgh University in their last two outings and are now in a position to move up the league with a win at home. Their cause will be helped by the absence of Hillhead`s Callum Duke who is also with the Scotland squad.
In the women`s first division Edinburgh University are unlikely to surrender pole position, they take on a CALA side that have yet to win a point this season.
The Edinburgh students have a far more difficult assignment on Sunday, they are up against Grove Menzieshill in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup at Meggetland.
The Dundonians are the only unbeaten side in the top flight this season, but they have yet to cross swords with either Edinburgh or indeed Milne Craig Western, so their real staying power is as yet untested.
Grove Menzieshill will hope to maintain their perfect record in the league with an away win against Kelburne on Saturday; that would keep them only a point behind Edinburgh University with two games in hand.
The other cup tie brings together Western and Dundee Wanderers for the second time in as many days. Some will say the odds are on the Glasgow club to win both the league and cup encounter, but that back-to-back scenario is never easy. Western did win the earlier league tussle, but only by 3-2 in the end after being down 2-0 at one stage, Millie Brown, Jen Eadie and Ali Howie were on target for Derek Forsyth`s charges.
This has not been a vintage season for Wanderers, they lie in fifth spot with only 13 points from ten games and nine points adrift of Wildcats immediately above them. Three points against Western is almost a must if they retain any hopes of making a top four slot.
After losing to both Edinburgh University and Western last weekend, fourth placed Wildcats will hope to return to winning ways at home to a Watsonians side that have picked up four points in their last two outings. Last weekend Watsonians beat Hillhead 4-1 to move up to sixth place in the table.
The final league encounter brings together Hillhead and Erskine Stewart`s Melville, both within the relegation play-off zone with the latter a point to the good. The Edinburgh side will fancy their chances of moving up the table, they were 4-1 winners in the earlier league fixture.