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Challengers out to close in on men’s and women’s league leaders

16 March 2017

Wildcats v Grange m 2016

This is Grange`s chance to put the pressure back on men's first division leaders Bromac Kelburne who have no game this weekend; a win against second bottom side Clydesdale would put the Edinburgh side within two points of the champions, with five games left.

The Edinburgh side won the first fixture 7-2 with Callum Milne, Frank Ryan and Todd Mills all scoring twice. Grange then proceeded to beat the Glasgow side 11-0 in the quarter-final of the Scottish Cup.

Certainly Grange will be without the services of Captain Cammie Fraser and Duncan Riddell, both still on Scotland duty at the World League in Belfast, but even then they would hope to have too much firepower for Clydesdale.

Clydesdale may have only won two games in the league this season, but are unbeaten since the restart after the winter shutdown with a win followed by three draws on the trot.

There is a struggle emerging for the final place in the top four between Edinburgh University and Uddingston, and the sides clash at Peffermill. If the fifth placed students are to make up the present three point gap, they must stifle the challenge of an Uddingston side that have rather spectacularly moved up the table in recent weeks, formerly relegation candidates now in fourth spot.

There is bound to be some movement in the lower half of the league, Hillhead have only taken a single point from their five games since the restart and they travel to Watsonians who are only three points behind them in seventh place.

It is to be hoped that there could be a repeat of the earlier encounter between the clubs, which produced no fewer than 13 goals, it was the Glasgow side who just shaded the goal avalanche that day.

Western Wildcats will look to emerge out of the 11 point log-jam with a home win over bottom side Gordonians, a result that would take Harry Dunlop`s pack out of the relegation play-off zone.

The Wildcats took the three points up in Aberdeen earlier in the season with a 4-2 victory, set piece expert Adam McKenzie scoring a hat-trick of penalty corners - a repeat of that result would suit Dunlop down to the ground.

In the women`s competition Edinburgh University are still on course for the league and cup double, and Sam Judge`s students have set out to dispose of seventh placed Erskine Stewart`s Melville, a side they defeated 5-1 earlier in the season.

The big challenge to Edinburgh`s hegemony appears to be coming from Grove Menzieshill, they are a point behind with two games in hand. The Taysiders could overtake the champions if they can see off Hillhead and then Wildcats in a double-header weekend.

Grove v Kelb wGrove Menzieshill struggled to overcome Wildcats last time out and only managed the three points with a narrow 4-3 victory, Katie Robertson getting a double that day.

While the Dundonians might appear in a good position, they have yet to face either Edinburgh University or Milne Craig Western in the league and lost their season`s unbeaten record after losing 3-1 to Judge`s charges in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup last weekend.

Second placed Western should keep up the pressure at the top with a win at Watsonians.

It is an interesting mix at the top of the first division, inevitably the outcome will almost certainly be determined by the results between the leading contenders.

It is tight in the lower reaches of the league with only five points separating four clubs. Kelburne look to be the only member of that group to have a realistic chance of progressing up the table with an away fixture against a CALA side that have yet to record their first point of the campaign. The Paisley side will take confidence from the fact they won the earlier fixture 5-0 at Glasgow Green.

Dundee Wanderers are a long way behind fourth place - 12 points in fact - but they will hope to hold on to fifth place with a home win over second bottom Hillhead.

Photos by Duncan Gray and Mark Pugh

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