Grange look to seal second spot and passport to Europe

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GRANGE will be finally confirmed runners-up in the Subway national league and secure a place in Europe next season if they see off third bottom AMN Hillhead at Peffermill today. The omens are more than promising, the Edinburgh side dumped Hillhead out of the Scottish Cup last weekend with a convincing 5-1 victory, but captain Rob Barr is taking nothing for granted.

“Last week’s score gives us optimism that we can win again on Saturday, but we know we still have to go out and work hard for the three points. We will be clearly focused for the game and if we can get some more consistency and control in our play, we can hopefully secure second place in the league,” said Barr.

Western Wildcats will bid to keep the pressure on Grange for that runners-up spot by seeing off already relegated VWS Dundee Wanderers at Auchenhowie, but coach Vishal Marwaha has already conceded that the European spot is becoming an increasingly forlorn hope.

Inverleith, with only a single point in their last three games, have fallen back to fourth place and can expect little sympathy from a Glynhill Kelburne outfit that have just won their eighth consecutive league title, and without dropping a single point in the process.

If Stevie McCurry, Inverleith’s coach, believes the Paisley side will now take their foot off the pedal, the words of manager Harry Coles will quickly stifle that fleeting thought.

“We will be looking to maintain our winning momentum against Inverleith this weekend in the run-in towards the European Club Trophy in Lille two weeks from now. Games against Inverleith are always keenly contested affairs, we are aware we have to be on our toes defensively as they pose a number of goalscoring threats throughout their squad,” Coles said.

At the other end of the table, CALA Edinburgh’s survival hangs in the balance and today’s local derby against Edinburgh University is therefore crucial. With two games left, CALA are three points adrift of Hillhead and a further point behind the students, consequently three points is essential to avoid the relegation play-off. But University are not home and dry either, they need at least a share of the points to guarantee safety, so it will be a competitive occasion at Peffermill.

In the women’s league, Grove Menzieshill may still be only a single point ahead of Milne Craig Western at the top of the Subway national league, but the feeling is that the race is effectively over and the Taysiders will pick up their sixth consecutive title. But Ailsa Wyllie, Grove’s captain, remarked: “The championship is not won until the league is concluded. Until then, every game has to be approached with the right mindset.”

This weekend Wildcats are the visitors to Tayside, and it would be a major upset if the champions-elect did not win comfortably, especially as they won the earlier fixture 4-0, Louise Campbell (2), Leigh Fawcett and Linda Clement getting the goals.

Western need to keep on winning to maintain the pressure on Grove and should take care of Kelburne at Titwood. Elsewhere, Grange could ease their relegation worries considerably with three points against bottom side GHK.