Midland and North conferences get underway as Tayside derby starts the season
Five exciting games in the Midland and North Conferences open the new season – these local development-focussed competitions replace the normal league structure for the moment, and West and East teams are still under COVID lockdown restrictions.
Yet what a start – the Tayside derby between Grove Menzieshill and Dundee Wanderers takes pride of place in Men’s Midland Conference.
Grove Menzieshill have had the upper hand on Tayside in recent years, and were in second spot when last season came to an abrupt close in March – two points ahead of Western Wildcats but with a game more played. In contrast, Wanderers shared bottom spot with Watsonians with a win and three draws in the 11 games played.
However, the Tayside rivals approach this competition with somewhat different close seasons. There have been several changes in the ranks at the `Hill – up front Jamie Golden has been signed up by top English side Surbiton while Keir Robb is now at Edinburgh University. In addition Ben Cosgrove and Alex Lihou have moved west to Clydesdale.
Yet, it is not all one-way, in compensation Grove Menzieshill have picked up the services of Clydesdale`s Chris McFadden who netted goals at Titwood last season.
In contrast, Wanderers have no changes to their squad from last season, so again will look to Bobby Ralph and Elliott Sandison for their goals. That said, with development opportunities in the conference available there may be some young talent looking to stake a claim in both sides.
Grove Menzieshill were emphatic winners in last season`s sole meeting with a 3-0 win, Luke Cranney, Albert Rowling at a penalty corner and Cosgrove were on target that day.
In the other Midland contest Perthshire are at home to FMGM Monarchs who finished the curtailed league below in second spot with seven wins from ten.
Perthshire have been showing good progress over the last couple of seasons with a blend of young and older talent looking to push the club forward. The conference offer more opportunity for this progress to flourish.
In the North Conference former Premiership side Gordonians will take on Granite City Wanderers, offering a great developmental opportunity for both teams. Likewise Aberdeen GS take on Ellon, who had a great last season, at home in what will be an intriguing tie.
The women`s programme this weekend is reduced to one game. In the Women’s North Conference Ellon are at home to Gordonians. Gordonians were pointless at the bottom of the top tier when the season came to an abrupt end, but they have a young team who will relish the development opportunity of the conference.
Siobhan Cowie in goal caught the eye with some impressive performances, and Gordonians’ versatile Young Player of the Year Jess Freeland will be looking to make an impact as well.
Ellon will look to emulate their exceptional performances of last season, which saw them unbeaten in the league, and also the performances that led them to back-to-back plate and cup finals, including being crowned District Plate Champions in 2018.
Louise Gordon will lead her side into the contest with further goal threat coming from the likes of Jenni Urquhart, and recent returnee Nikki Kidd.
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