GRANGE and Arbroath – the league’s top two – clash in the match of the day and the onus is on Arbroath to recover immediately from last week’s defeat to Carlton, their first setback of the season.
It is a task Lochlands skipper Marc Petrie believes his side are equal to as they head to Portgower Place. He said: “We are looking to bounce back with a strong performance after our first defeat. Our target is to still be sitting top of the table going into the cup break which will set us up perfectly for the second half of the season. We want to be in a position where we are genuine title contenders.”
That is a position Grange have been familiar with over the years and they are again poised to make a challenge, having shrugged off their opening day defeat to Aberdeenshire by reeling off four straight wins. Neil McCallum, their captain, said: “Things have been going pretty well but we know Arbroath are up where they are on merit.”
Ian Worth comes into the Grange side to replace Andrew Brock who has a shoulder injury.
Arbroath are without Fraser Burnett, Matthew Hurst and Darren Spink but Euan Small and Alvin Pollard return and 17-year-old Blair Carnegie is promoted from the second XI.
Tyler Buchan, the Aberdeenshire skipper, is looking for his men to make a positive response to last week’s disappointing defeat by Heriot’s. The Dons have now lost two of their last three and need victory to rekindle their title hopes.
They will not take SMRH lightly, especially with the league’s leading runscorer, Cedric English, in the travelling ranks. Aberdeenshire are without player-coach Neil MacRae, who is on coaching duty with Austria but Tony McKenna returns. Chris Bissett and Richard Hannam are unavailable for the visitors, who bring in Ranjith Augustine for a top-team debut and Ali Khan for his first appearance of the season.
Meanwhile, Stoneywood-Dyce’s win at Heriot’s on the first day of the season seems like a distant memory as the Peoples Park outfit have subsequently suffered four straight defeats to slump to joint bottom.
The Aberdonians welcome Carlton who, in contrast, have four victories and just one defeat to their name and last week’s success at leaders Arbroath proved the Grange Loan side are genuine title contenders.
Carlton skipper Preston Mommsen is delighted with his side’s progress and will return from Saltires duty in time to lead the side.
Champions Watsonians, who host city rivals Heriot’s, have the chance to pull further away from the drop zone. However, it will be no easy task against a Heriot’s side who got the better of Aberdeenshire seven days ago.