Big weekend in the men’s Premiership and a huge match at Auchenhowie
This weekend`s activities are confined to the men`s Premiership, there are no women`s games due to international commitments.
And the “game of the day” is at Auchenhowie where Western Wildcats and Grange clash for the first time this season.
But how important is this game in the bigger scheme of things – after all it is the same three points at stake as in any other Premiership game, and it is still early in the season?
However, it should be remembered that last season Grange took the Premiership league title by a single point from Western. It came down to the wire in the same Auchenhowie venue late in the season where it was winner take all, but the game ended 1-1 and Grange retained their crucial one point advantage to the end. The Wildcats did get their revenge by beating Grange in the Scottish Cup and then again in the final of the European play-offs.
Steven Percy, Western`s new coach, is clear about his view on the match`s importance. “The Grange game could be critical to the season`s success. If we look at last year, then it shows how close the margins are, it came down to those two matches.”
And Steven is optimistic after comfortable wins over Inverleith and ESM. “It`s been great to get the results in our two games so far as well as scoring a few goals, but the coaching team and the players themselves know we`ve got more to come. The character we`ve shown in some tricky situations has been particularly pleasing.”
And Steven has the added bonus of the return of striker Rob Harwood after a summer playing in the very competitive Australian league, so he should certainly be well tuned for the confrontation on Saturday.
Grange also recognise the importance of the fixture. Manager Martin Shepherdson remarked: “The Western game is clearly important as both sides have proved they are consistently among the top sides over the last few years. However, all the other sides are trying to close the gap and we treat all games the same”
Grange have won their three games so far against Dundee Wanderers, Uddingston and Watsonians. Consequently Martin added: “We have had a good start with three wins, but we are still bedding down our squad and style of play as we have had a big turnover of players. With injuries we still have not had a full squad available and we know we will continue to improve as the season progresses.
“We are looking forward to the game on Saturday as we always enjoy the challenge of playing Western.”
At the moment Grange hold a three point lead over Western, but also Edinburgh University and FSEG Clydesdale, but with a game more played. However, if Edinburgh win Thursday night`s catch-up game against Hillhead, they could join Grange at the top and even grab pole position on goal difference. For an update see the Midweek Action at the foot of the preview.
The Edinburgh students have certainly hit the ground running with back to back 4-0 wins over Grove Menzieshill and Dundee Wanderers, and coach Hamish Imrie will be looking for another at home to an Inverleith side that have had a win, draw and defeat so far.
However, the students will have to avoid conceding too many penalty corners as Inverleith`s expert Charlie Jack seems to be on fire with eight goals in three outings – that`s good shooting.
Clydesdale have also made a solid start to the campaign with narrow wins over Uddingston and Watsonians and coach Kieran Crawford might fancy his chances of extend the win ethic against a young developing Kelburne side that have still to record a win.
Other sides in the division have generally had a mixed start to the season and are playing each other at the weekend.
Watsonians will be one of the sides that might be disappointed with their start, a win against ESM was followed by defeats at the hands of Clydesdale and Grange. Although on the latter match, Watsonians` Tom Swarbrick said: “The Grange match was much better performance despite the 3-2 loss, we were unlucky not to get something out of the game.” With that optimistic note Watsonians will be hoping to resume winning ways against a Hillhead side that have yet to get off the mark.
ESM travel to Dundee to take on Grove Menzieshill, this could be close as both sides have recorded a win apiece. Last Sunday ESM recorded a 2-1 win over Kelburne while the Taysiders were a whisker away from beating Inverleith but succumbed to a belated equaliser from Kyle Taylor.
The final game on the card brings together Uddingston and Dundee Wanderers in Lanarkshire, both sides rest on three points after as many games, and both those victories were over Hillhead – so not easy to determine a favourite for this one. Uddy TV is streaming the match live HERE.
Keir Robb`s five goals were undoubtedly the catalyst in Edinburgh University`s 8-0 win at Hillhead on Thursday evening, a result that propels the students to the top of men`s Premier table on goal difference from Grange. Three wins, 16 goals and none conceded is not a bad start for Hamish Imrie`s charges. New recruit Johnny Bradley got a double and Sam Hunt the other.
In the women Premiership Edinburgh University threw off the disappointment of last weekend`s narrow defeat to Watsonians, to see off the Glasgow students 4-0 at Peffermill. Jike Nyirenda was again on the scoresheet with a double while Ava Smith and Sophie Anderson were also on target. However, to be fair to Glasgow it was goalless at the interval, it was only in the second half that Edinburgh began to edge ahead.
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