Domestic Preview - Week 17
Arbroath skipper Marc Petrie has insisted his club’s quest to retain the Scottish Cup won’t be a distraction when they square up to East Premier title hopefuls Watsonians today.
The sides go head-to-head at Lochlands on the eve of the Lichties’ showdown with Clydesdale in Glasgow.
But Petrie stressed that this afternoon’s fixture will be given the respect and attention it deserves, as it will have a bearing on the race for the championship.
Watson need to win to maintain their challenge to pacesetters Carlton, who will be fancied to take full points against Aberdeenshire at Mannofield.
And Petrie said: “The priority is to concentrate on the league match.
“That might be difficult, but it is something we are duty-bound to do.
“Also, in terms of confidence, the last thing we want to do is fail to produce a strong performance immediately before heading down the road to take on a powerful Clydesdale outfit.”
Petrie himself is sidelined today due to work commitments, but he will be back to lead his team into battle at Hamilton Crescent.
The captain added: “The Cup Final will be another massive occasion for us - and the 200-plus fans who are making the journey to cheer us on.
“We want to win it for them, as well as ourselves.”
Elsewhere, the scramble for third place in the table hots up with Forfarshire visiting Heriot’s and Grange playing host to Glenrothes.
Stoneywood-Dyce - already resigned to relegation - hope to make ground advantage count when fellow strugglers Falkland come calling.
A momentous weekend looms for Clydesdale who can today secure a second consecutive Western Premier title and tomorrow lift the Scottish Cup for the first time in twenty-eight years.
Victory over Prestwick at Titwood this afternoon will complete a successful league campaign and end East Kilbride’s brave bid for glory.
Tomorrow holders Arbroath stand in the way of Dale’s possible double celebrations as the Citylets Scottish Cup final returns to its traditional Hamilton Crescent home to mark the 50th anniversary of the country’s premier knockout competition.
Today, though, skipper Majid Haq will tell his men to focus on the task in hand as they attempt to get over the finishing line at the second time of asking.
Hopes of clinching the title last week were dashed by rain and, should the weather play ball today, Dale face a tricky test against a Prestwick side who have made a positive impression during their first stint in the top flight and could yet secure a top four finish.
Haq said: “This is our last home game of the season and it would be brilliant to win the league in front of our own supporters.
“The players have a great opportunity to make a name for themselves by retaining the title which is always more difficult.
“It’s a privilege for me as captain to be in this position and I hope we can all make the most of the chance we have.”
Haq will take nothing for granted against a Prestwick side who, in Fazal Jawad, boast the second highest run scorer in the division as well as wicket-taking bowlers in Mitchell Rao and Gavin Pitt.
He added: “They are well-captained by Shahzad Rafiq and have a lot of high quality players so we will need to be at our best.”
Meanwhile East Kilbride must win at Ayr and hope that Prestwick can do them a favour.
Hari Singh’s men have played some sparkling cricket especially when former Saltires star Ross Lyons has been on form.
With thirty-one wickets and 504 runs Lyons has been the top all-rounder in the country and will again be a key figure in what is a tricky fixture against the 2014 champions.
Ayr have struggled for consistency but not their classy opening batsman Michael Papps who needs 109 runs in his last two games to complete 1,000 for the season.
The former New Zealand Test star already boasts four centuries and will no doubt have his sights on another one today.
Elsewhere Uddingston aim to continue their improvement against Kelburne whose form has gone in the opposite direction.
Ferguslie, fresh from their Western Union 40 Cup triumph, entertain Dumfries while relegated pair Stenhousemuir and Drumpellier clash at the Tryst.
Their places in the top flight are likely to be taken by Poloc and Greenock who can both clinch promotion today.