The road to the Gala Finals and Europe
It was Grove Menzieshill who took advantage of the first round of matches with a win over Watsonians while Inverleith and Western Wildcats drew. The Taysiders consolidated second place, now two points ahead of Inverleith and only one adrift of Wildcats at the top.
It certainly seemed that Grove Menzieshill had the game won at half-time with a three goal lead through Luke Cranney, Andrew Bonnar and Chris McFadden at a penalty corner. A fourth was added by Cranney midway through the second half, and although Danny Cain pulled one back for the Edinburgh side, Michael Ross added another for the Dundonians near the end. The result effectively ruled Watsonians out of a top two place.
Wildcats and Inverleith shared eight goals in a pulsating second match, leaving the former still in pole position and Inverleith in third.
Score-wise Inverleith had the better of the first half, a double from Keir Robb put them two up before Andrew McConnell replied for Wildcats from the spot. Then Wildcats got their teeth into the occasion and raced into a 4-2 lead with goals from Jamie Golden, Rob Harwood and Fraser Moran at a penalty corner…and the game seemed to be won.
But no – up stepped Keir Robb again to make it 4-3 at a set piece, and then with less than two minutes left he levelled for Inverleith – that was his fourth of the game.
Western Wildcats secured their place in next Sunday`s gala final with a 7-4 win over second placed Grove Menzieshill in a tousy affair which almost had as many cards as it had goals.
Wildcats seemed to have the match under control with a 3-1 lead at the interval, Jamie Golden, Joe McConnell and Fraser Moran were their scorers while Chris McFadden replied for the Taysiders. Although Luke Cranney pulled one back for the Dundonians the champions added to their tally through Moran again and Rob Harwood to advance the score to 5-2.
In the final five minutes the game had cards and goals galore. Four goals were scored with Cranney and Andrew Bonnar finding the net for Grove Menzieshill and Harwood and Golden again getting Wildcats` replies – but the margin between the teams did not alter. However, the sin bin visits went in favour of Grove Menzieshill by 4 to 2 which perhaps did not held their cause.
However, Grove Menzieshill`s disappointment was partially dissipated by Inverleith`s 6-3 loss to Watsonians in the next game, a result that left the Taysiders two points ahead in second spot.
The fate of the game rested in hat-tricks. Inverleith were 3-2 ahead in the first half with captain Kyle Taylor scoring all three with Tom Stengold and Dan Coultas replying for Watsonians. Then the roles were reversed, in the second half Coultas went on to score three more with Andrew Campbell adding another, and Inverleith failed to reply.
So now the other final spot rests with the head to head between Grove Menzieshill and Inverleith with the latter needing to win.
And Inverleith did just that with a 2-1 win over Grove Menzieshill to take second spot by a single point.
And the Taysiders only needed a draw to retain their place in the final…and that is how it looked with seconds remaining. The game was somewhat devoid of goals, Kyle Taylor put Inverleith in front in only four minutes only for Luke Cranney from the spot to equalise soon after. And that is how the contest stood until the 40th minute when the Edinburgh side were awarded a penalty and Alex Wilson duly scored from the spot to leapfrog his side into second spot – and there was no way back for the Dundonians.
With the pressure off and a final placed assured Western Wildcats strolled to a 6-2 win over Watsonians in the final game of the day. It was 3-1 at the interval, Fraser Moran and a double from Rob Harwood struck for the Wildcats while Luke Campbell replied for Watsonians. The Auchenhowie side added further goals from Moran, Jamie Golden and Joe McConnell but not certain who got Watsonians` consolation.
The road to avoid relegation
Clydesdale and Dunfermline Carnegie are closer to the drop after going down to Grange and Dundee Wanderers respectively in their opening matches – albeit by a single goal. The order of the bottom two places will be decided by the last head to head, Clydesdale need to avoid losing to send the Fifers into next season`s second tier.
Grange took the initiative in the first half, Arthur Owens opened followed by Aidan McQuade for a two goal lead at the interval. That is how the score stood until the final two minutes when David Clark pulled one back, but only a consolation as it turned out.
Wanderers`s catalyst against Dunfermline was undoubtedly Callum Ross whose hat-trick turned the tide in a narrow 5-4 win. It was 1-1 at the interval, Fifers` Gary Clark`s effort was cancelled out by Ross. Wanderers then moved into a 4-2 lead through Bobby Ralph, Sean Dowie and Ross again at a penalty corner, Josh Love replied for the Fifers.
Dunfermline got their second wind with two further strikes by Andrew Doyle and Love again to tie the score at four each…and a draw seemed the likely outcome. But a penalty corner conversion by Ross with less than two minutes left gave Wanderers the three points.
As a consequence Grange are officially safe from the drop and Wanderers are just about there with one round of games left.
Clydesdale were to lose their division 1 status when they went down 5-2 to Dunfermline Carnegie who will now play-off against the second tier`s runners-up for the last place in the top flight. Sam Goldie`s penalty corner strike put the Fifers in front at the interval.
They consolidated their advantage early in the second half with two goals added by Andrew Doyle for a three goal lead. Liam King and Cameron Moran pulled the score back to 3-2 but in the final couple of minutes Doyle again for his hat-trick and Stuart Eadie confirmed Dunfermline`s victory and possible survival.
In a game only for pride between Grange and Dundee Wanderers ended in a 5-5 draw. It was the traditional game of two halves, in the first a hat-trick from Gordon Amour and another by Aidan McQuade gave Grange a four goal lead at the break. Back came Wanderers with three by Bobby Ralph along with Callum Ross and Kennedy Gibb but a single strike by Grange`s Jack Nairn levelled at five all.