Glenrothes may not be featuring directly in the race for the title, but head-to-head contenders Arbroath and Grange are all too aware that the Fifers will have a big say in who will be crowned champions.
Grange burst the competition wide open by comprehensively beating the pacesetting Lochlands brigade at Raeburn Place. And by a quirk of fixture-list fate, both sides will square up to Glens during the climax to the campaign.
Grange player-coach John Blain said: “We are delighted about where we are at this stage, but while we will obviously be keeping our eyes on Arbroath, we will also be sure to watch the blindside in terms of Glenrothes. They are a well-balanced team who have performed well over the past couple of years.”
On the victory over Arbroath, Blain added: “It was a dominant performance which I would also describe as a class above. We haven’t produced displays like that often enough this season and that is why we are not at the top of the table.
“There is still a lot of cricket to be played before the destiny of the title is decided. That is a healthy situation for a league in which every team are capable of beating any of the others on the day.”
Arbroath had taken a gamble by opting to bat first in tricky conditions and the punt ultimately failed to pay off. At 57 for one, they looked set to post a challenging target, only for wickets to fall in a flurry – leading to an all-out total of just 113.
Fraser Burnett was the only batsman to pass the 30 mark, while Tom Foulds grabbed four cheap wickets.
The chase proved easy for the hosts, who completed the triumph with only two casualties, skipper Preston Mommsen ending on 38 not out.
Arbroath captain Marc Petrie said: “There is no sense of panic in our camp – we know if we win our last two matches we will be champions.
“We knew the run-in would not be easy, given the quality of our opponents, and it will go down to the wire. We are aware that we have to raise our level in every department. Grange were by far the better team on the day and thoroughly deserved their win. But I have enormous confidence in my guys and their ability to lift things when it matters.”
Glenrothes skipper Safyaan Sharif believes Arbroath are still favourites – but only just.
After leading his side to success against Watsonians to virtually make sure of a top-four finish, he said: “They have their noses in front – but anything could happen.”
On Glens’ win, he added: “It was an excellent result, but we are still frustrated about losing several matches we should have won earlier in the season. If that hadn’t happened, we’d have been right up there fighting for the championship.
Sharif’s five-wicket haul was the highlight of the 14-run victory at Gilvenbank.
Falkland saw their last hope of dodging the drop vanish as they crashed at the hands of Heriot’s at Goldenacre, where home seamer Adrian Neill took five for 24. The shaky sequences of Forfarshire and Aberdeenshire continued when they were outgunned at Carlton and SMRH respectively.