Competitive National League 1 season nears business end

It could hardly be more competitive, only three points separate the top four sides in women`s National League 1 – and there are only four scheduled games left.

Edinburgh University lead, two points ahead of Western Wildcats who in turn are a point ahead of Clydesdale Western and Dundee Wanderers and they are separated by a single goal. However, Western do have one advantage, they have still an outstanding game against Grove Menzieshill to play.

In contrast, Grange seem in control of the men`s league with a six point cushion over Western Wildcats with Grove Menzieshill a point further adrift.

But something will have to give at the top of the women`s table as Wanderers are at home to Western Wildcats in Saturday`s top encounter.

Both sides are on a bit of a roll with three wins each since the restart after the winter break. Western Wildcats have been particularly impressive with a 3-2 victory over champions Edinburgh University at Peffermill. Last weekend Western Wildcats beat Hillhead 2-0 in the league, but the day after dropped out of the Scottish Cup in a penalty shoot-out against Watsonians.

In the initial encounter back in October it was the Western Wildcats who clawed their way to a 3-1 victory over the Taysiders with McKenzie Bell, Erin Stevens and Becky Ward, ironically a former Wanderers` stalwart, getting the goals.

Edinburgh University and Clydesdale Western will hope not to lose ground, the former are away to bottom side Grange while the latter entertain Glasgow University at Titwood.

Watsonians are back into a winning formula after two reversals and have slipped into fourth place. The Edinburgh side should retain that status with a further three points away to GHK. Grove Menzieshill are lurking two points behind but will only keep up the pressure with a win over seventh-placed Hillhead.

Grange have the destiny of the men`s championship very much in their own hands, with a six point lead and three of their remaining games at Fettes. Their final fixture is away to third-placed Grove Menzieshill, a tricky venture but by that time the silverware may already be residing at their base in Stockbridge.

On Saturday Edinburgh University are the guests at Fettes, perhaps not the easiest of encounters as the students are unbeaten in both league and cup since the winter shutdown. Then again so also are Grange, in fact the champions have an unbeaten record for the entire season so far.

The last occasion the sides met was in October and Grange emerged 4-0 winners, Dylan Bean scored twice from penalty corners while Frank Ryan and Todd Mills got the others – a similar outcome would suit coach David Knipe.

Any pressure put on Grange is dependent on the chasing duo of Western Wildcats and Grove Menzieshill maintaining their own winning sequence. Western Wildcats will look to do just that on Saturday, they are away to pointless Gordonians, but Grove Menzieshill have a much tougher assignment against fourth-placed Hillhead at Anniesland.

The Taysiders` league form since the break has not been inspiring, two draws and a less than impressive win over Kelburne. In addition, Hillhead may need the three points to hold on to their top four place, Clydesdale and Edinburgh University are only two points adrift with Uddingston a point further behind.

And Clydesdale and Uddingston clash head to head at Titwood on Saturday, the winner here could well move up to fourth.

The final game on the card sees Watsonians at home to Kelburne, in years past a foregone conclusion to the Paisley side, but now the Edinburgh outfit might think of themselves as favourites for the three points. Last time out Watsonians got the better of a nine goal thriller.

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