FORFARSHIRE skipper Umair Mohammed believes today’s Tayside derby will be the most important match of the season – but not for his team.
League pacesetters Arbroath welcome Mohammed at Co to Lochlands.
And the visiting captain insisted all the pressure will be on the hosts on their own turf.
He said: “It is definitely the the biggest game of the season so far – but only for Arbroath.
“We are under no pressure whatsoever, however they need the win to continue their journey at the head of the title race.
“We, of course, will do what we always do and set out for a victory.
“There derbies are always a fiery affair and this weekend will be no different.
“There are many such tussles take place every season in Scotland, but it would be hard to find one that has as much spice to it as ours.
“They are the fixtures you really want to be a part of.”
Forfs are boosted by the return of former home-team hero Matty Parker and Brock Ditchmen.
He was backed up by Arbroath skipper Marc Petrie, who stated: “This is a a match I always look out for in the fixture list.
“We know we’ll have to be at the top of our game because Forfs are a very good side who have a similar policy to ourselves in bringing through homegrown players.
“We weren’t too happy with our performances against Aberdeenshire and Heriot’s but we have worked hard this week to make the necessary improvements.
“We are 100 per cent focussed and motivated.”
Falkland captain Stuart Campbell has faith in his side’s ability to triumph in the basement battle with SMRH and take a step towards top flight survival.
The strugglers clash at Inverleith, with Campbell stating: “It will be very tough – just as the whole campaign has been for us.
“But player availability is better with holidays and other commitments out of the way.
“The guys have trained well and I’m sure if we do our disciplines accurately, we not be far away.”
Elsewhere, Glenrothes entertain Heriot’s and Grange take on Watsonians at Myreside, with Aberdeenshire hosting Carlton.
PRESTWICK can today move closer to clinching a first-ever Western Premier crown if they can complete the double over Poloc at the Henry Thow Oval.
The Ayrshire side prevailed in a rain-affected encounter at Shawholm in May and the weather has subsequently had an increasingly influential role in what was shaping up to be the most exciting title race in years.
It may yet be but only one fixture has been completed in the last fortnight and every blank Saturday represents a missed opportunity for those sides – as many as five – who still have hopes of overhauling Prestwick.
Both teams are simply hoping for the chance to play this afternoon and Andy Tennant, Prestwick’s coaching consultant, has called on his players to retain their focus going into the closing weeks of the season.
He said: “Rain is a factor most seasons and, while it’s frustrating, I think we are all used to it. The players have to be ready to continue the good work they’ve done up until now.
“They have found a way of winning and have remained positive but there is still a long way to go and we have to focus on each game.”
Poloc official Keith Young detailed his side’s weather woes by revealing: “In the league, only three of the last seven games – stretching back to the 10th of June – have been completed.
“We’d just love to see a game played to its conclusion.”
A Poloc win would open the door to a handful of title aspirants but the visitors must again do without skipper Craig Young who will miss the remainder of the season with a torn cartilage.
Owais Shah and Ihtisham Malik – on Scotland U19 duty – are also absent for the Glasgow side along with Muhamad Azeem and Akram Shakoor though Lewis James returns.
Young added: “Our recent form is reasonable but Prestwick have maintained a consistency of performance that has eluded others. They are a hard side to beat as the league table reflects.”
Elsewhere it looks like a must-win clash for Clydesdale and Uddingston who meet at Titwood in a game which brings together several of last weekend’s triumphant Western Warriors side.
The Warriors opened their T20 Blitz campaign with emphatic wins over the Eastern Knights and Caley Highlanders, games in which Dale’s Mo Awais and Richie Berrington and Uddingston’s Adil Raza and Ross Lyons were significant performers.
They will be rivals today and the battle between Berrington and Lyons – two of the outstanding all-rounders in the country – could be pivotal.
Jamey Carruthers, the captain of second top Ferguslie, will tell his players to concentrate on securing victory at East Kilbride but events at Prestwick will surely be of more than passing interest.
The Paisley men are without their leading wicket-taker Haroon Tahir who is with Scotland’s U19s.
Ayr, poised in third place, can maintain the pressure on their Ayrshire neighbours if they can beat Greenock at Cambusdoon in a match featuring the league’s most prolific opening batsmen – Ayr’s Michael Papps and Neil Smith – and the division’s most potent new ball pair – Greenock’s Aussie duo Kyle Scrimegour and Julien Hulbert.
Kelburne, having broken their duck last week, hope to step up their survival bid when they entertain Dumfries at Whitehaugh.