Division one places at stake

03 May 2012

SUBWAY NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION ONE PLAY-OFFS  -  SUNDAY 06 MAY 2012 AT PEFFERMILL.

The final place in the men`s Subway national league division one will be an all-Edinburgh affair between CALA and Watsonians on Sunday at Peffermill.   It is the classic scenario, CALA an out-of-form team at the foot of the top flight against a Watsonians side that have embraced the win ethic in the second division.

However, CALA can take some comfort from the fact that traditionally it is the team from division one that generally comes out on top in these one-off encounters.   In the autumn newly promoted CALA started their return to the top division with acceptable form, seven points from the opening five games was considered reasonable by coach Neil Allan at the time.   But injuries and loss of form took their toll and CALA slipped steadily down the table to second bottom spot, ahead of automatically relegated VWS Dundee Wanderers.

In fact, CALA have failed to win a fixture since the winter break, but most importantly they lost 3-2 to AMN Hillhead and could only manage a 3-3 draw with Edinburgh University - both rivals for the relegation play-off spot.  In the final denouement, CALA needed to beat Clydesdale to have an outside chance of avoiding the play-offs, but instead went down heavily 7-2 to a revitalised Titwood outfit.

CALA have the firepower in David Guy, Karl Clarke and David Patterson to cause the Watsonian`s defence some bother, but the loss of the influential Scott Sutherland, now playing in Australia, could be crucial.

In contrast, Watsonians have been on a winning streak since 19 November, nine convincing victories and only a 3-3 draw with Stepps to interrupt the sequence.  Their last reversal was a 6-5 loss against Uddingston, but the memory of that was expunged with a 7-1 defeat of the Lanarkshire club in their final league encounter of the season.

Watsonians have the benefit of the vast experience of player/coach Callum Wood, a former Scottish internationalist, to guide them back to the top flight.   They missed out on the automatic promotion spot to AAM Gordonians, ironically Wood`s former club, but must fancy their chances of seeing off CALA, especially if their top striker Magnus Ferrier can find some form.

The Watsonians club are also contesting the women`s play-off against Western Wildcats who finished second bottom of the first division.   The Edinburgh side were narrowly pipped by Inverleith for the division two title, and might have done better but for three consecutive draws against Granite City Wanderers, Inverleith and Erskine Stewarts Melville in their final league encounters.

The Wildcats, for so long in eighth place in the first division, looked to have avoided the play-off clash altogether, but in the final game of the season Grange EL unexpectedly beat CALA Edinburgh 2-1 and overtook the Wildcats by a single point.   But their poor form in the second half of the season contributed to their fate, the Wildcats collected only a single in a 4-4 draw with relegated GHK, and their final 2-1 home defeat by Edinburgh University was the clincher.

Murray Laing, Wildcats` coach, emphasised the importance of a win on Sunday.   "Staying in division 1 is not only seen as import, it`s essential.   There is a degree of cautious confidence, but Watsonians will provide a stern test - in play-offs the supposed underdog generally play with more determination and less fear, and have the habit of winning games.   In contrast we have usually struggled for results, and that`s why we`re in this position."

The Wildcats will almost have a full pack on duty, long term injury victim Stephanie Curran is still out, but under 16 national player Katie Devlin is included.

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