Domestic Preview – Week 8

Lizzie Sleet @CricketScotland
June 17, 2017 6 years

Despite their rocky start to the campaign, Forfarshire are convinced that they can climb the table quickly and figure in the race for honours.

They take on basement boys Falkland at Forthill today in the hope of notching their third triumph on the trot.

On paper, they ought to achieve their aim – though skipper Umair Mohammed will not count his chickens.

He said: “The reality of this competition is that anyone can beat anyone else on their day.

“We must not take Falkland lightly because they will be desperate to get their own season up and running.

“My young boys are now starting to believe that they belong at this level and it has been exciting to watch them grow in terms of confidence and their ability to be winners.”

Scott Cameron and Matty Walker are back in the line-up in place of Kyle Legget and Andy Wallace.

The sad and sudden passing of former player and long-time Lochlands stalwart Howie McLoughlin will provide extra inspiration to pacesetters Arbroath when they square up to Glenrothes at Gilvenbank.

Club captain Marc Petrie stated: “Howie was a fierce competitor off the pitch and a well-loved guy off it. The guys will be thinking about him and his family.

“Glens are a group of talented lads and even without Safyaan Sharif, they will be a threat.

“We will also be understrength and among those absent will be Fraser Burnett, Greig Peal, Ross McLean and Craig Ramsay.

“However I have great belief in our strength in depth and it will be an opportunity for the likes of Darryl Sinclair, Blair and Bryce Carnegie, Ryan Cameron and Jack Waller.

Fifers chairman Eddie Gibbs said: “We went close to beating Arbroath in a T20 fixture, so we have an insight to their abilities.

“Until last week at Watsonians we’d competed well in every match and any of them could have gone either way.

“When you have a young side like ourselves, the wheels will occasionally come off – the approach to training this week had been really positive.

“Vasu Reddy continues as captain in the absence of Safyaan and we’re delighted to welcome back Fraser Gosse after his rugby exploits.”

Grange make the trip north to take on Aberdeenshire at Mannofield, the hosts going for a third win on the spin.

Jittery champions Carlton are out to get back on tracks as they entertain neighbours Watsons, and Heriot’s should be too strong for SMRH at Goldenacre in the north capital derby.

AS the halfway stage in the season approaches there are as many as six teams who must believe they have a chance of winning the league.

Already half the teams in the division have experienced what it feels like to lead what is surely the closest title race since the inception of the Western Premier five years ago.

Dumfries have not yet enjoyed that status but today they have the chance to confirm themselves as contenders when they entertain second top Uddingston at Nunholm.

The home side are on a three-game winning run which has seen them topple champions Clydesdale as well as chasing 250 against Greenock in their last fixture.

That was two weeks ago, their clash at top-of-the-table Ferguslie having been rained off last week while Uddingston were strengthening their position with a hard-fought win over Kelburne..

Dumfries spokesman Andy Reed said: “The aim at the start of the season was to return to being a competitive team in the Premier Division, and the current winning streak is evidence that we are achieving that goal. 

“This has been an interesting season so far with no team running away with the league and on their day any team in the division can get a win. 

“We are a confident team at home where we have an amazing playing surface which always produces plenty of runs and excitement.  We will back ourselves to knock off any target set, which was demonstrated against Greenock.

“Our strong batting line-up will have to contend with the spin options that Uddingston have at their disposal.

“This match will be a challenge but hopefully we can come out on top.”

Uddingston skipper Bryan Clarke said: “Dumfries is always a tough place to go and they have a team who always compete.

“It’s another week where just about every match is pretty well balanced and if every game goes ahead the league could open up even more.

“We’ve had some really good games against Dumfries over the years and I imagine this will be no different.”

Dumfries are at full strength while Uddingston’s veteran all-rounder Paul Hoffmann misses out through injury but Allan Laycock and Nick Martin return.

Elsewhere leaders Ferguslie will be wary of a Greenock side who have settled well into life in the top flight and who traditionally relish their trips to Paisley. The Glenpark men travel without Chris Hempsey and Phil McIntosh.

Clydesdale badly need a victory when they entertain Prestwick if the champions are to rekindle hopes of a successful title defence.

However, the Titwood side are again without Scotland duo Richie Berrington and Con de Lange and will have a youthful look while Prestwick have the chance to consolidate a top four berth if they can bounce back from their derby defeat to Ayr last time out.

Ayr themselves face a tricky trip to face an East Kilbride team who have been badly affected by the weather, completing just three of their scheduled seven fixtures.

Kelburne prop up the table but have the chance of a first win of the season when Poloc, with defeats in their last three games, visit Whitehaugh.

The visitors have rung the changes in a bid to recapture winning form, teenagers Lewis James and Ahmed-Raza Hanif coming in.

A Poloc spokesman said: “The last few weeks of poor weather have seen Poloc play in rain-affected matches, as well as suffer a number of cancellations. 

“It is hoped that this weekend will see fair weather and an opportunity to play an uninterrupted match. 

“The side are looking for the consistency that has eluded them all season.”

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