Crucial weekend of indoor hockey ahead
There’s a crucial weekend of indoor hockey in prospect; the men`s programme sees the end of the league section of Indoor National League 1, while the women`s has moved on to the group stages.
Inverleith are in the driving seat with a perfect record after five games and sit top of the pile in men`s National League 1, but coach Stuart Neave is aware that only top performances against Grove Menzieshill and then Western Wildcats on Saturday will maintain that status.
Neave said: “So we will need to remain focused if we wish to take the points from this weekend`s fixtures.”
At the moment the champions are three points ahead of the Wildcats and have a six point advantage over Grove Menzieshill, although the latter have a game in hand.
The Taysiders are first up for Neave`s charges, and although they have already dropped three points in the campaign, the Inverleith coach will nonetheless give his traditional rivals full respect.
“Grove Menzieshill are always a difficult side to play against and will certainly be a challenge as we restart the league games.”
The Dundonians are well capable of rattling in the goals if given the opportunity, Cameron Golden leads the way ably supported by Albert Rowling, Ben Cromar, Jamie Golden and Paul Martin.
After a few years in the doldrums the Wildcats have responded positively to the indoor challenge and sit in second spot. The Auchenhowie side have a taxing weekend, they open against a Grange side that are on a four game unbeaten run after losing their opening encounter against Inverleith.
Then the big clash with the champions. “Western have had a good start, playing well and scoring plenty of goals, so I expect another challenging game,” said Neave.
Wildcats have scored 33 goals in their five matches so far – the main strikers being Andrew and Joe McConnell, Fraser Moran, Hamish Galt and Rob Harwood. Their run of impressive victories included a 7-5 win over Grove Menzieshill, while their only reversal was a 4-3 loss to Dundee Wanderers.
So a high-scoring encounter is in prospect for pole position.
Grange are the other side in the top four mix, their credentials will be tested in their encounters with Grove Menzieshill and Western – they might need to take something from these games to maintain their status.
Dundee Wanderers have been consigned to the lower echelons of the table with only three points from four games. But the Taysiders have a chance to slip into the top four if they can take full points from their encounters with Clydesdale, bottom side Kelburne, but they’re due to finish with the all-Dundee derby against Grove Menzieshill.
Newcomers Dunfermline Carnegie also have a chance to making it to the top reaches of the table, but to have any chance they must take the six points from their games against Kelburne and Clydesdale.
The women`s competition has moved on to the pool stage – Pool A consists of Dundee Wanderers, Hillhead, Watsonians and Grange with Clydesdale Western, Grove Menzieshill, Edinburgh CALA and Edinburgh University in the other. The top two sides in each group then move on to the semi-finals.
With the results between the competing sides carried forward, Western are top of their group with nine points from their three games already played, three ahead of Grove Menzieshill who they meet in their opening match.
A repeat of the 4-3 victory last Sunday would see the Titwood side advance to the semi-final stage, Kayleigh Justice was the catalyst that day with a hat-trick in a match that was evenly contested.
The champions then go on to take on Edinburgh University in their second encounter, a side they have already beaten 8-0.
Grove Menzieshill then tackle CALA, a repeat of the earlier 7-1 triumph would almost certainly confirm their place in the semis.
Pool A would seem to be a much closer affair; Dundee Wanderers lead with seven points, only one ahead of Watsonians with Hillhead a further two adrift.
A Sunday double victory over Hillhead and bottom side Grange would see the former champions progress with ease.
However, Hillhead might again prove a stumbling block, on the opening day the contest finished in a 2-2 draw with Wendy Andrews getting the equaliser for the Glasgow side in the final three minutes.
However, the draw has not been particularly kind to Hillhead, they finished in fourth place in the league but are only third in the pool after losing 2-1 to Watsonians.
Yet it was a close affair, and it took second half strikes by Nikki Stobie and Emily Newlands to end Hillhead`s unbeaten run.
So as a result of victories over Hillhead and Grange, it is Watsonians who occupy second spot in the pool, two ahead of Hillhead. The Edinburgh side could extend that lead with an opening win over Grange, last time out than ended a convincing 9-1.
So second spot in this pool could be settled in the return Watsonians versus Hillhead confrontation with the latter probably needing a win to have any chance of a semi-final place.
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