Local derbies take top billing

It could be a testing weekend for clubs who have already made their mark in this season`s Premiership, newly promoted Inverleith men are away to Grange in an all-Edinburgh affair while in the women`s competition the Glasgow derby between Hillhead and GHK takes top stage. 

It has been several seasons since Inverleith graced the Premiership with their presence and they stated they were not back “to just make up the numbers” – easy to say, but the Edinburgh side have done just that so far. 

After seeing off Clydesdale by the odd goal in seven, Chris Duncan`s charges have leapt to second in the table, on the same points as Wildcats but with a poorer goal difference and a game more played. 

 On Inverleith`s success, Duncan said: “We have been delighted with the start we`ve made to life back in the Premiership. It`s been a three-user process to rebuild our style of play and be more attack minded. It`s taken a long time but the guys have really bought into the process of how we want to play. 

“Ten points out of a possible 15 has been amazing, but our goal is to keep improving week after week. 

“We are a really well-coordinated unit and I think that has helped us in the games so far. We aren`t a team of individuals, but a group who all play together and have a great understanding of each other and our style of play.” 

After losing their first game against Dunfermline Carnegie, Inverleith have not looked back with a run of three wins and a draw. 

Unfortunately, Duncan will not be there when his charges have their biggest test of the season so far – away to Grange. Duncan doubles as the coach of the Scotland women`s squad in Pisa trying to qualify for the World Cup Finals. 

Grange have made a steady start with three straight wins and lie in third spot in the table, held back by a few postponed matches. The champions will be without the influential Duncan Riddell who is in the Scotland squad on World Cup duty in Cardiff. 

Clydesdale are back on the rails after a three-goal victory at Menzieshill and have advanced to fourth, so coach Ciaran Crawford has renewed confidence to see off Kelburne at Titwood. If Clydesdale are to retain their new status there needs to be greater consistency of performance and results, and back-to-back wins over Menzieshill and then Kelburne on Saturday would be a step in the right direction. 

Kelburne, on the other hand, slipped back to sixth after their 2-0 reversal against Hillhead – still not a bad position considering the youthful nature of their squad. 

Dunfermline Carnegie are presently eighth but could shoot up the table with six points from a double header weekend against Hillhead and Dundee Wanderers. The latter have yet to get off the mark, but a revitalised Hillhead might be a more testing assignment. 

It could be argued that the game of the day in the women`s Premiership is the all-Glasgow affair between Hillhead and GHK. In past seasons this would have been a contest for points in the lower echelons of the division, but currently GHK are top and Hillhead fourth – so changed days here. 

GHK have held on to pole position for several weeks now, having taken 15 points from their six outings, which is impressive. The only blip was a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Watsonians. 

Hillhead`s record is a little less impressive, losing to Edinburgh University and Uddingston, but they did start the campaign with a fighting 0-0 draw with Wildcats. 

So where will the goals come from? Zara Kennedy and Skye Stuart have got most of GHK`s goals while Hillhead have relied on the lethal finishing of Emma Blackstock whose tally is currently five for the six games so far. 

However, it is not easy to predict this one – especially as it has the added spice of a local derby. 

Glasgow University has slipped back to sixth place having lost 3-1 to GHK two weeks ago and coach Wendy Justice will hope to return to winning ways at Gordonians. That may not be so easy as the Aberdonians have ground out a couple of victories recently and are a much-improved side from 18 months ago. 

Wildcats will be disappointed to be in ninth place so early in the season, but they have already played Edinburgh University and Clydesdale Western and only went down by the odd goal each time. A home game against Grove should give the Wildcats something to chew on and start their journey up the table to the top six. 

Two wins and three losses is not an unreasonable start for Uddingston in their first season in the Premiership, but a win at Dundee Wanderers on Saturday would confirm their mid-table status. Director of Hockey Harry Dunlop will be hoping his charges can add to Wanderers` existing 33 goal deficit after five games. 

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