Big points up for grabs in this weekend’s National League 1
Grange`s progress towards retaining the men`s National League 1 title will face a big challenge this weekend when they meet Western Wildcats at Auchenhowie on Saturday.
Grange are the only unbeaten side in the division – the champions have only dropped four points all season – and if Western Wildcats can`t get their claws into them, then the title looks to be moving even closer to its return to Raeburn Place. The Edinburgh side now have a six point cushion at the top of the division, courtesy to some extent to last weekend`s dropped points by both Western and Grove Menzieshill.
However, David Knipe`s charges can expect nothing short of a hot reception at Auchenhowie – a point referred to by Wildcats` coach Harry Dunlop. “I`m expecting a tough game, but the squad is confident of a successful outcome.”
The first encounter between the sides might not be a source of inspiration to Dunlop, he watched his charges go down 3-2 at Fettes, and that after taking a two goal lead through Rob Harwood and Joe McConnell. But Western Wildcats took their claws off the prey and Jacob Tweedie, Frank Ryan and finally Duncan Riddell with five minutes left stole the points.
Whatever the outcome at Auchenhowie, Grove Menzieshill will only take advantage of the situation if they can take the three points from Uddingston at Bothwell Castle Policies. A win for the Hill and defeat for Western Wildcats would propel the Taysiders into second spot in the table.
It was certainly no contest in the first encounter, Grove Menzieshill emerged comfortable 4-0 winners, two for Cameron Golden along with John Stephen and Paul Martin did the damage that day.
Hillhead may be seven points adrift of Grove Menzieshill, but they have made fourth spot their own for the time being after seeing off Kelburne last weekend – their first victory over the Paisley side in the league.
Coach Mark Ralph was delighted at the occasion. “I was very pleased with how we played. The guys really took responsibility and stepped up. Big development with a young squad.”
Ralph will now be looking for the good work to continue in this weekend`s away fixture at bottom side Gordonians, a side they beat 11-0 earlier in the campaign.
Elsewhere, Clydesdale will hope to continue their good progress at home to Kelburne while Watsonians` clash with neighbours Edinburgh University could be an interesting confrontation.
Despite being in Vienna on indoor duty last weekend, Clydesdale Western`s hold on pole position in the women`s National League 1 remained unaffected as rivals Edinburgh University fell at home to Kaz Cuthbert`s Western Wildcats.
Western and Edinburgh University are still neck-and-neck on 28 points, the former have a goal difference advantage of only one – so goal difference after this weekend`s fixtures may alter the order slightly.
Western are at home to GHK, a side they beat 3-1 earlier in the season.
Meanwhile the champions take on fifth placed Watsonians in what could be a taxing occasion on paper. Students` coach Sam Judge will not want to drop any more points in the race to retain their crown, so a repeat of a three goal victory earlier in the campaign could be repeated.
At Auchenhowie third placed Western Wildcats entertain a Grange side battling at the foot of the table, every point on offer is vital here.
With Vikki Bunce in such fine goal scoring form – the former Scotland player notched a hat-trick against Watsonians last weekend – Dundee Wanderers will be targeting another three points at home to Hillhead. However, it should be noticed that the Glasgow side moved up to seventh in the table after seeing off GHK 3-2 last weekend.
In the final game on the card Glasgow University take on a Grove Menzieshill side that have yet to make their impact so far this season. Could this weekend see the Taysiders hit their stride?
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