AFTER a close-fought battle for the RBS Premiership, Ayr could return to the top of the Scottish club game today if results go their way at Millbrae and Bridgehaugh.
Ayr’s bonus-point win over Edinburgh Accies last weekend, combined with chasers Gala’s failure to do the same in their narrow victory at home to Dundee, has afforded Kenny Murray’s side the opportunity to seal only their second championship trophy, four years after their first.
For that to happen Ayr have to overcome Currie at home and Gala fail to beat Stirling County away from home, although there is the possibility that Ayr could even draw and still take the title if the Maroons leave Bridgehaugh with nothing.
Murray does not believe that the race will end this afternoon, but he is acutely aware of the excitement building within the Ayr camp. “Last week’s game against Accies was a good win for us and we were pleased with many aspects of our performance,” he said. “Every game we play at the moment has a cup final feel to it and the players are having to rise to each occasion.
“The game against Currie is simply a must-win match for us. We fully anticipate that we will have to win our last two games if we are to win the league.”
However, beating Currie is no foregone conclusion either, and with his side just three points ahead of the Borderers the tables could turn if his team lose today and Gala win.
“Currie are the only team we have lost to this year,” pointed out Murray, “so we have prepared well and will be completely focused on winning this game.
“With pro players John Houston and Gregor Hunter in their squad they have one of the best back lines in the league, and our defence will have to be at its best to stop their key players.
“We are also aware that Currie will be desperate for the points this week as a loss could send them into the relegation race. So this will make for probably one of the most intense Ayr v Currie games over the past few years.”
And there have been a few of them, with Ayr sending a big crowd to Malleny Park three seasons ago before Currie duly grasped the trophy from the Millbrae men. Melrose went on to win the championship in the past two years and they could yet have a say in where it goes, facing Gala at Netherdale in the final league match on 23 March.
However, there is no certainty that Gala will keep up the pressure either, having struggled to win their recent games and not holding a great record in the hometown of their coach George Graham.
Graham added: “Every game at Bridgehaugh has been a tough affair and we haven’t won at Stirling in the last few years so there is a heightened importance on this game. Winning would keep us in the hunt for the league and stop the run of losses up there.
“Stirling had a good win last week and will be desperate to continue that form to lift them away from the relegation area. However, if we can raise our game from what it has been in the last few weeks then we have the game to beat Stirling.”
Elsewhere, Edinburgh Accies welcome Aberdeen Grammar to Raeburn Place, Dundee HSFP travel to the Greenyards to take on Melrose and Heriot’s host Boroughmuir at Goldenacre, with all matches kicking off at 3pm.