Domestic Preview - Week 16
Cricket Media preview the sixteenth week of action in the Eastern and Western Premier divisions.
Arbroath have long since exited the race for the Eastern Premiership crown, but they can still be the king makers - and breakers.
Today, they square up to pacesetters Carlton and next weekend they go into the fray with chief-chasers and sole challengers Watsonians, with skipper Marc Petrie relishing the double challenge as they step up preparations for the Scottish Cup Final showdown against Clydesdale in Glasgow.
Ahead of the crucial trip to Grange Loan, Petrie said: “Just because we can’t win the league does not mean we will be changing the intensity of our approach or attitude.
“We are determined to retain the Cup and the aim is to make sure we go to Hamilton Crescent with momentum behind us.
“Looking further into the future, we want to make a big statement for next season by showing we can take the big scalps.”
Petrie added: “Carlton are a very strong all-round team and if they do go on to lift the title, they will deserve it, but we won’t be taking it easy, or making it easy for them this weekend.
“The other factor for us is that places are up for grabs in the cup final line-up, so no-one will be holding back.”
Arbroath are without Fraser Burnett and Brendon Ford.
Sonians, meanwhile, cross the capital to collide with fallen champions Grange.
Fresh from securing their top-flight status, Glenrothes welcome Heriot’s to Gilvenbank, while Forfarshire - bidding to secure a third-place finish - are unlikely to slip up at home to doomed Stoneywood-Dyce.
Shaun Coetzer has stood down from the SD captaincy in order to give Jack Mitchell gain experience in the role.
And two sides who have not had their troubles to seek during the campaign - Falkland and Aberdeenshire - scrap it out at Scroggie Park, where the toss is likely to be all-important.
CLYDESDALE could today claim the first of a potential four trophies as the season reaches a tantalising climax for the Titwood club.
It seems to be a matter of when – not if – Dale clinch the Western Premier title and victory at Senhousemuir this afternoon would confirm a successful defence.
Twenty-four hours later Majid Haq’s side face Ferguslie – the team that pushed them most of the way in the league – in the final of the Western Union40 Cup at Glenpark.
A Scottish Cup final follows against Arbroath next Sunday with the CS Grand Final early next month concluding what could be a record-breaking season for Dale.
However, Haq will not allow minds to wander beyond this afternoon’s potentially tricky test. Stenhousemuir may already be relegated but they are clearly going down fighting as they showed with last week’s excellent win at Dumfries.
Clydesdale were boosted last night when Scotland duo Richie Berrington and Con de Lange were made available following the abandonment of the I-Cup clash with UAE.
Haq said: “It’s another exciting weekend for the boys with the chance to win some silverware.
“But we know Stenhousemuir are a dangerous team with an excellent professional.
“Ferguslie at Greenock on Sunday will be an excellent occasion at a beautiful venue.”
Haq also knows that Ferguslie and East Kilbride, who meet in the day’s top match at Meikleriggs, are waiting to pounce on any slips from his side.
Second place is a more realistic target for the pair while, of course, Ferguslie also have the chance to claim silverware tomorrow and would love to deny Dale at least one of the trophies they are targeting.
Gregor Preston-Jones, whose century last weekend helped the Paisley men end a losing run, said: “We want to finish as high as we can in the league which looks like second place!
“EK have had the better of us in many of the recent meetings so will be looking to put that right with a strong performance.
“The WU40 is a great chance of silverware and at the end of the day that's why we play cricket.”
EK skipper Hari Singh said: “Ferguslie are always a tough team to play and they will want to finish strongly as well.
“We have to just keep winning and hope Clydesdale slip-up. Second would be a decent place to finish considering the start we had.
“We now have to rely on others to help us out which gives Clydesdale a massive advantage going into the last few weeks.”
Hari revealed the extent of the Torrance House club’s ambitions when he added: “I wouldn't really consider finishing second an achievement because we were quietly confident that we could go all the way this year.
“We just have to wait and see what happens. It has been a funny league because when teams start losing they lose a few games in a row.”
Ferguslie welcome back professional Mishkal Ramsaroop from injury while Hamza and Haroon Tahir also return.
East Kilbride are at full strength.
Elsewhere, Drumpellier could throw themselves a lifeline with victory over Dumfries at Langloan, an outcome which would drag the visitors into the relegation battle.
Uddingston and Prestwick are battling for a top four finish at Bothwell Castle while Ayr entertain Kelburne.