Saturday sees a full card in the women`s Premiership along with one outstanding men`s fixture. Sunday brings the next round of the Scottish Cup with several all-Premiership ties to savour.
Watsonians women seem unstoppable with eight wins out of eight – you can`t get much better than that. – so it`s now GHK`s turn to try to put the breaks on the bandwagon.
Fiona Semple`s charges have been in good form recently, making their way up the table into the top six with some impressive scoring, with Lucy Williamson in particular showing some sharpness in the circle. But last Sunday was a disappointment when they went down 3-2 to Clydesdale Western – their first reversal in several weeks.
Despite this renaissance, it is a significant challenge taking something from their clash at Watsonians. The champions’ goal scoring record is awesome, 60 goals in eight matches with Scotland striker Sarah Jamieson top with 21 of her own.
Conclusion – GHK must cause a sudden slump in the Watsonians goal scoring department to allow the Glasgow side to create one of the results of the season.
Second placed Western Wildcats are six points adrift, although they do have a game in hand after last Saturday`s abandonment at Auchenhowie, and they travel to Lanarkshire to meet seventh placed Uddingston. Perhaps not the easiest of outings, but Uddingston have not won since 14 October and have slipped out of the top six as a consequence.
And Wildcats have been pretty consistent this season with only one reversal in seven games. Perhaps they’re not as free scoring as Watsonians but they are impressive at the back, only giving away five goals all season.
Edinburgh University will certainly aim to keep up the pressure at the top with a home game against Gordonians.
Clydesdale Western`s recent revival may be tested on Saturday at St Andrews University. The Titwood-based side are on a four game winning sequence after a close 3-2 win over GHK last Sunday and have moved up to fourth. The unbeaten run may have been interrupted on Saturday but for a frozen pitch – they were two down to the Edinburgh students, but they live to fight again.
The St Andrews students are getting a feel of Premiership status with a mid-table position, and already have three wins to their credit. But taking another three from Clydesdale might be a challenge.
Despite losing to Watsonians last weekend Grange have still had a much improved season and look well established in the top six. On Saturday they might fancy their chances of another three points at home to a Hillhead side that have had a tough time this season. Having said that, they did get their first win with a single goal victory over Inverleith on Sunday, so perhaps the tides have turned at Old Anniesland.
Finally, Glasgow University have not picked up any Premiership points since 23 September but the students have a great chance of doubling their tally with a home game against an Inverleith side that are joint bottom of the table.
There is one catch-up fixture in the men`s Premiership between FSEG Clydesdale and Grove Menzieshill. The task for Kieran Crawford`s men is simple – only a win will keep alive their aspiration of a top six place, and then another three points at Dundee Wanderers in February – but even that might not be sufficient depending on other results.
But Clydesdale`s record in the last five outings does not make happy reading for the coach – one win against ESM and four defeats. However, the Taysiders` record is no better – one draw and four defeats. So, take your pick here.
There is already one side through to the quarter-finals of the men`s Scottish Cup – on Monday evening Western Wildcats roared past Edinburgh University with a convincing 6-1 scoreline. A rather conclusive reversal of the students 6-4 win in the league two weeks ago.
Goals from Andrew McConnell, Jonny Christie, Iain McFadden at a penalty corner and Rob Harwood gave the Wildcats a solid foundation by the interval. Fraser Moran added two more in the second half, one from open play the other at a penalty corner. Andrew Lobb scored the student`s only strike.
Wildcats` coach Steven Percy said: “This performance was much improved from our defeat by Edinburgh in the league two weeks ago.”
What about the other all-Premiership ties?
Grange will hope to see off ESM considering the league encounter ended in a seven goal victory. There might be other closer ties, after all in the league Watsonians drew with Dundee Wanderers and Clydesdale only beat Uddingston by a single goal – could be tight here.
What about giant-killing – frequently a feature of the Cup. Gordonians, from the National League, entertain Inverleith while FMGM Monarchs, relegated from last season`s top flight, are at home to Hillhead. Possibilities.
Elsewhere, confidence might be high in Premiership sides, as Grove Menzieshill take on St Andrews University and Kelburne face the Strathclyde students.
The top tie in the women`s Cup is GHK`s home game against Clydesdale Western – a repeat of last Sunday`s league encounter which the latter won narrowly 3-2. Uddingston v Inverleith is the other all-Premiership clash, there’s no league encounter to go on here, but the home side might fancy their chances as Inverleith have yet to record a win. The cup, however, can often be different to the league.
Watsonians, Wildcats and Grange will play with confidence as they take on teams from lower divisions. The same could be said of Glasgow University and Hillhead who are at home to second tier ESM and Grove Menzieshill respectively.
And finally, there are some reserve sides left in the draw – Edinburgh Hockey Club entertain Clydesdale Western`s third string and in the battle of the 2s Glasgow University play GHK.