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