CSL Preview - Week 8

20 Jul

Western Premier


With the Rowan Cup already secured, a Scottish Cup quarter-final at Carlton tomorrow (Sun), Drumpellier will today bid to maintain their title push at the expense of an Ayr side who need the points to pull away from the foot of the table. The Coatbridge side may already have exceeded expectations in some quarters but no-one at Langloan is resting on their laurels. “This is the most important weekend of the season for us,” said skipper Graeme McLaren. “We have a taste for success but we know Ayr are a good side and will be looking to spring a surprise but we are highly motivated to win.” Ayr counterpart Andi McElnea is looking for his side to hit the ground running following the mid-season cup break. “It’s a fresh start for us,” he said. “Hopefully we can put some wins together and the youngsters continue to get valuable experience.” Drumps are without the injured Ally Rawlinson while Robbie Henderson and Stuart Jefferson, a second eleven centurion last week, are the latest Ayr youngsters to earn promotion.

Prediction: Home win



Champions Dumfries and pre-season title favourites Clydesdale find themselves playing catch-up after an indifferent first half to the campaign. However, there is optimism in both camps and Dale manager Colin Mitchell believes this match is pivotal. He said: “We have developed some momentum with some good performances in the cup and we have to take that into the second half of the season. If we beat the sides above us we will put ourselves in contention.” The same applies to a Dumfries side who returned to form with a cup win over Heriot’s last week. It is a mark of the Nunholm side’s strength that three of their squad played for the Reivers in midweek while several are involved at Scotland youth level. Anjan Luthra is unavailable for Dale but Safy Sharif continues his return to full fitness.

Prediction: Home win



Renfrew, aiming to secure top flight status in their first season with the big boys, enjoy a slight advantage over Ayr and Stirling but must add to their solitary win if they are to achieve that goal. Skipper Sai Majid hopes home advantage will work in their favour against a West side who are handily placed and need to keep winning to capitalise on any slips by the top two. Renfrew will again look to the prolific Ahmed Said to spearhead their challenge, the Pakistani professional having scored 96no against Grange a week ago but West have selection problems. Skipper Ross Brown is out with a broken finger while in-form batsman Andrew Umeed, who scored an unbeaten century for Scotland U19s in midweek, has, in the words of coach John Blain, “declined the option to play.” Dougie Lockhart returns.

Prediction: Away win



Bottom hosts top but Stirling skipper Graeme Taylor leaders Uddingston carry the greater burden going into this match. “There is pressure on both sides,” he said. “But there is no expectation on us so we are able to play with freedom. The weight of expectation may well play into our hands.” That remains to be seen but there is little doubt that Uddingston know they must keep winning if they are to realise their title ambitions. Director of Cricket Ricky Bawa declared: “Hopefully both Drumps and us can come through unscathed today to set up an all-to-play-for Lanarkshire derby next week.” Stirling welcome back Scott Bell, Nick Farrar and Richie Carswell while Uddingston will look to Amir Gul to continue a prolific season. The top order batsman scored a superb century against Aberdeenshire last week in an innings Bawa described as “the best I have seen by an Uddingston player.”

Prediction: Away win


Eastern Premier


This is a must-win clash for both sides as they bid to stay in touch towards the top of the table. The pair meet again tomorrow in a Scottish Cup quarter-final in Edinburgh but the priority for both is league points and avoiding a potentially fatal third defeat of the campaign. Dons skipper Tyler Buchan said: “Grange’s batsmen have been piling on the runs of late so we know exactly how tough it will be to come out of the weekend with two wins but we have beaten them once already and if we can do the treble over them it could set us up for a special season.” Opening batsman Chris Venske is unavailable for the hosts but player-coach Neil MacRae returns. Fit-again Josh Edwards returns to the Grange line-up while Zander Muir is preferred to Henry Edwards.

Prediction: Home win



Top-of-the-table Arbroath have hardly looked back since beating the reigning champions on the opening day of the season but they will not under-estimate a Myreside team who have shown improvement following a disappointing start to the campaign. Skipper Marc Petrie said: “We are aware that Watsonians have put together a few wins and some of their main threats are performing well. The next few weeks will define our season and we are looking to start the second half of the season the way we played throughout the first half.” The title may be out of Sonians’ reach but skipper Ewan Chalmers is looking for his men to continue their ascent of the table. Benny McGill returns for the hosts while the visitors hand a debut to new recruit Brendan O’Connell, a left-arm spinner/batsman who hails from Surrey.

Prediction: Home win



Cedric English, the SMRH player-coach, will attempt to upset Carlton’s title bid. English spent more than a decade at Grange Loan but his priority now is to help SMRH survive in their first season in the top flight. The veteran batsman has played his part and, with 382 runs, is the highest scorer in the division. However, SMRH have managed a solitary win and currently prop up the table while Carlton, in addition to sitting second in the table, also have cup aspirations and host Drumpellier tomorrow. Skipper Preston Mommsen said: “It’s coming to the business end of the season and we’re fully aware of what we need to do to achieve silverware.” SMRH are on the usual lines while the visitors welcome back Fraser Watts, Rob Thornton and Chayank Gosain.

Prediction: Away win



Stoneywood-Dyce could be forgiven for having one eye on tomorrow’s Scottish Cup quarter-final clash with Arbroath but the Aberdonians will be fully focused on league business as they attempt to pull away from the foot of the table. Stuart Coetzer’s men are just a couple of points above SMRH and victory today could drag their opponents into the relegation area. Stoneywood’s only win of the season was on the opening day against today’s visitors and the Peoples Park side are quietly confident of completing the double. Steve Knox, the Heriot’s player-coach, has several key players unavailable.

Prediction: Home win

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