Ar­broath fired up for ‘win­ner takes all’ fi­nale with lead­ers He­riot’s

The Scotsman - - Sfl In Focus - SaNdy StraNg

It COULDN’t have been stage-man­aged bet­ter. the fi­nal league game of the sea­son. First ver­sus sec­ond. Ar­broath Unit­ed­ver­susHe­riot’s. Win­ner takes all. “the en­tire town is buzzing,” en­thused Lichties skip­per Fraser Bur­nett. “We’re ex­pect­ing a big crowd at Lochlands, and we’re up for the fight.”

Bur­nett him­self, Greg Peel and John Sal­mond all re­turn, hav­ing de­liv­ered for the sec­onds in last week’s cru­cial Strath­more Union rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle against Rossie Pri­ory, but a fit­ness doubt re­mains over Ewan Small, missing for the past three weeks with a back mus­cle in­jury. Young seamer Matthew Hurst stands by.

Lead­ers He­riot’s, who an­nounce the same team which last week trounced Penicuik, are also rightly up­beat about their prospects: “We travel in ex­cel­lent heart,” in­sists skip­per Steve Knox, “un­like this time last year when we went to Lochlands in the Premier League rel­e­ga­tion play-off, and lost nar­rowly to For­farshire. But we’re now rid­ing high, and keen to ex­or­cise last year’s mem­o­ries. We lost our first match at home to Ar­broath in a low-scor­ing thriller, but this will be a very dif­fer­ent sce­nario. the wicket will be good, it’s a big ground, and it will come down to who best man­ages the pres­sure. In­trigu­ingly both sides would prob­a­bly pre­fer to bat first.”

third-placed Stoney­wood-dyce, whose 11-game un­beaten run was ended last week by Drumpel­lier, aim to end the sea­son on a high when they visit

“We had the chance to win two ma­jor pieces of sil­ver­ware,” re­flects Peo­ple’s Park cap­tain Ge­orge Ni­nan rue­fully, “and therein lies the dif­fer­ence be­tween a tal­ented side and a great one. But we’ve had a mar­vel­lous run, we can take a lot of pos­i­tives from it, and the greater be­lief the play­ers now have can be car­ried over into next year’s Premier­ship.”

Ayr and Stirling County con­test what is ef­fec­tively a dead rub­ber at New Cam­bus­doon but both teams en­ter the game on a mis­sion. “Iron­i­cally our two top run-scor­ers from last week, James Miller and Iain McGhee are both missing,” says County skip­per Phil Rees, “but this will give our other bat­ters a chance for some valu­able pitch time prior to the Scot­tish Cup Fi­nal.” Stirling bring in two young bowlers, Harry Cordiner and Ge­orge Buchanan-Smith, who im­pressed last week with the sec­onds.

Fourth-placed Drumpel­lier re­call Ste­vie Al­li­son, Za­heed Mo­hammed, Ally Rawl­in­son and John Hut­ton for the trip across Glas­gow to face a Poloc side boosted by last week’s de­feat of Ayr and the avail­abil­ity of Keith Sheri­dan. Else­where the bot­tom two, Sten

and Penicuik clash at the tryst to de­ter­mine who will fin­ish last.

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