Conference game week two brings more competitive action to Midland and North

The second weekend of competitive hockey is upon us and again the focus is on Midland and North as the conference competitions enter game week two.

Grove Menzieshill`s women are in a stage of transition as they start their conference campaign against Tayside rivals Dundee Wanderers on Saturday. The developmental aspect of the conference is a source of good opportunity for all clubs, and it’s one that Grove Menzieshill will be looking to use to bring through young talent from their system.

Manager Niall Joss explained, “We have only eight of last year`s squad continuing with the club.

“The squad will be young, using the best of the talent that our youth development structure is building, so the opportunity to give game experience at the higher level in the conference is welcome.

“So hopefully, it’s exciting times to come.”

So the more relaxed conference set-up is ideal for a Grove Menzieshill side in transition. Katie and Ellie Stott, daughters of Great Britain Olympic captain Pauline Stott MBE, have joined Watsonians; Lucy Smith and Rhiannon Carr have moved to Glasgow University; while others including Lauren Kingston; Jude McMullan and Holly Duval have also moved away.

There is a welcomed return however for Corrie Hay who has been out of action for a long time after a knee reconstruction.

The conference is a good challenge for new coach Graham “Geeg” Stuart with Joss doubling as his assistant as well as manager – a completely new management team.

Dundee Wanderers will look forward to another local encounter. They did win last season`s sole clash 3-2 with goals from Vikki Bunce, Emily Dark and Michaela McCarthy. Any side with the evergreen Bunce in the ranks has goals almost guaranteed in every outing.

However, Dark is away making waves with the GB women`s squad and McCarthy has departed for Durham University. Also gone are Jess Ross to Edinburgh University; Orla Thompson to Dundee University; and Ailsa Millar to Glasgow University.

Wanderers had a bizarre experience last season prior to the lockdown. They romped to the top of the Premiership with five straight victories, and Bunce scoring in every outing. Then, were on the wrong end of back-to-back 6-0 defeats at the hands of Edinburgh University and Western Wildcats, and although the wheels came back on the Dundonians finally ended the truncated campaign in fourth spot.

Elsewhere, although Ellon lost 6-2 to Gordonians last weekend, captain Louise Gordon left the occasion on a high note, “It was a really good game, closer than the score line suggests, so Ellon heads are still up and we`re raring to go again next week.”

So the challenge is there again on Saturday as second division Granite City Wanderers come calling at high noon.

Last weekend`s winners FMGM Monarchs and Grove Menzieshill clash this Saturday at Dalnacraig. Both sides ended their season in March in the runners-up position, but with Monarchs a couple of divisions lower than Grove Menzieshill in the top flight Premiership. The game offers a great developmental opportunity for players on both sides.

The Glashan family monopolised the goals in Monarchs’ hard-fought 3-2 win over Perthshire, but confronting Dundee`s top performing outfit will be a much sterner task.

Grove Menzieshill seem to have made a shrewd acquisition in former Clydesdale`s Chris McFadden, his penalty corner expertise was put into good effect in their 4-1 victory over Dundee Wanderers with a double from the set piece.

Wanderers did take the lead over their rivals Grove Menzieshill last weekend through Elliott Sandison but were unable to build on their early advantage and succumbed 4-1 in the end.

The North Conference gets underway with the confrontation between Ellon and division three`s Granite City Wanderers, making a double-header between the two alongside the women’s contest.

Ellon enjoyed a 100% league record last season, and will hope to carry that form into the conference. The league season ended for Granite City Wanderers in March with them sitting in third spot, but just a point shy of second place and four points from the top with a game in hand. This should be an interesting contest and a good chance for both teams try some new developmental ideas in the competitive sphere.

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