NERVES may be jangling when relegation-threatened Ayr host wobbling title aspirants Uddingston at Cambusdoon this afternoon.
However, neither captain displayed any hint of tension as they looked forward to what looks like a must-win clash for both.
Andi McElnea, Ayr’s upbeat leader, is confident about the long-term health of his club regardless of what the immediate future holds.
He said: “We are in a really sound position at the moment with finances in good order and improvements being made to the ground. We also have a team packed with home-grown youth.”
One of them, Shuja Khan, returns to the side after captaining the Scotland U15 team last week, while two others, Neil Smith and McElnea’s younger brother Scott, are in good spirits after successful appearances for the Reivers in midweek.
Uddingston, meanwhile, having suffered several setbacks and seen their lead eroded by Clydesdale, felt aggrieved when last week’s match against Renfrew failed to beat the elements
However, skipper Bryan Clarke said: “That is in the past. It’s more important to concentrate on what will be a really tough game against an Ayr side whose position doesn’t reflect their ability. We’ve played some good cricket this season but this is where it counts.”
Uddingston welcome back Saltires star Calum MacLeod.
If Uddingston are showing the strain, the same cannot be said of Clydesdale, who appear to have timed their title push to perfection and today the Titwood side visit a Drumpellier team who ran out of steam at a crucial stage in the season. Clydesdale, though, are unlikely to treat today’s opponents lightly, especially with such potential match-winners as Graeme McLaren and Imran Adrees in the home ranks.
Dale have their own big occasions players, none more so than skipper Majid Haq, who has a burning ambition to lead his team to the title during his first season at the helm.
Dumfries face West of Scotland with both sides assured of a top-half finish, but there is much more at stake at New Williamfield, where bottom side Stirling host Renfrew in a match which could see the visitors retain top-flight status.
However, it is so tight that any one of the three bottom teams could be propping up the table by 7pm tonight and Stirling could jump two places if results go their way.