Domestic Preview - Week 4
Glenrothes batsman Chris Greaves is hoping their remarkable Scottish Cup triumph over Dumfries can be the spur to break their duck in the Eastern Premiership.
The newly-promoted Fifers have found life tough in the top flight, and today they square up to an Arbroath side, who are themselves desperate for a win to ignite their title challenge.
Ahead of the Gilvenbank tussle, Greaves declared: “There were signs of improvement last Saturday when we made Carlton work hard for their success in Edinburgh.
“Then 24 hours later, we really bounced in the right direction to pull off a fantastic result down at Nunholm.
“First, the bowlers did their bit by getting rid of the home team for 49 - then we passed the target in only THREE overs.
“We are starting to play as a team and we are showing the necessary guts and heart.”
Arbroath - still smarting from their loss to Heriot’s - will be boosted by the return of Calvin Burnett, however they have injury worries.
Skipper Marc Petrie explained: “We are aware of the position Glenrothes have been in, but we won’t be underestimating them.
“Brendon Ford is still sidelined with a groin strain and Blair Carnegie is out long-term after having surgery on a damaged finger.
“I also dislocated a finger last weekend and though I can’t keep wicket, I will be OK to bat.
“This means that Harris Carnegie will take the gloves.”
Petrie added: “Like Glens, we will be looking to carry on where we left off in the Cup, when we performed much better to beat SMRH.”
It is Forfarshire’s turn to have a go at halting the momentum of Carlton, who - along with neighbours Watsonians - are making the early running.
Shire spokesman Graeme Beghin stated: “We have a settled line-up and we are looking forward to taking them on at home.
“Sure, Carlton are going well, but we are totally focussed on our own performance - knowing that if we play to our abilities, then we will be very hard to beat.”
Falkland will go in as clear-cut underdogs against Sonians at Myreside, while Grange are likely to be too strong for Aberdeenshire in the capital.
Home advantage should work in favour of Heriot’s at the expense of Stoneywood-Dyce
Joint leaders Ferguslie host champions Clydesdale in the Western Premier’s top match this afternoon and both captains are confident of success.
The Meikleriggs men have looked impressive in opening their campaign with victories over Stenhousemuir, Ayr and Uddingston while Dale, having slipped up against Dumfries, were back to their imposing best against Drumpellier a week ago.
Home skipper Gregor Preston-Jones knows a Ferguslie victory would send a clear message that the Paisley men are genuine title contenders but refuses to look beyond today’s test.
He said: “Playing Clydesdale is always a game we look forward to as everyone wants to get one over them!
“We have started pretty well. Michael English and Mishkal Ramsaroop have been in excellent form with the bat and our bowling has been exceptional, especially Jamey Carruthers and Hamza Tahir.
“It's important that the rest of the team step up and support those players who have been doing well and if we play our best I have no doubts we'll provide strong competition to Clydesdale and anyone in the country.
“Of course we expect a tough test – Clydesdale aren't the champions for no reason. They have some excellent players but we have to focus on what we do best and if we play to our strength then I believe we can continue our 100% record.”
James Cook replaces Dean Kennedy in Ferguslie’s only change.
Dale skipper Majid Haq, meanwhile, believes his team can overcome the absence of injured Scotland all-rounder Richie Berrington to inflict a first defeat on his old team-mates.
Paisley-born Haq graced the Meikleriggs ground on many occasions before his switch to Titwood as did the current Dale player-coach Con de Lange.
However, neither will have any room for sentiment this afternoon and Haq said: “I always enjoy going back to Ferguslie where I have many happy memories but most importantly we are going there with the aim of winning an important match.
“At the start of the season I was pretty sure they would be one of our main challengers for the title and that’s the way it seems to be working out.
“It’s a big game for both teams but I’m sure if we play to our maximum potential we can come away with the result we want.”
Haq, with the added incentive of facing up to his cousins Haroon and Hamza Tahir, added: “They are both talented players and I like to see them doing well but I’ll be going all out to get the better of them on Saturday!”
The visitors draft in Paddy Barbour and Andrew Scobie to bolster their batting.
Elsewhere, Ferguslie’s neighbours Kelburne defend the only other unbeaten record when they visit a Dumfries side who are aiming to bounce back from defeat at Prestwick.
The Ayrshiremen, meanwhile, have settled well into life in the top flight and could make it three wins on the trot when they visit a Drumpellier outfit who have yet to break their duck.
Either Stenhousemuir or East Kilbride will register a first success when they meet at The Tryst while Ayr, having hit a record 346-2 a week ago, hope for more of the same against Uddingston at Cambusdoon.