Bowls: East’s tilt at sixth cup success boosted by Marshall’s return

EAST LOTHIAN step up their defence of the gents’ indoor bowls Scottish Cup on familiar territory tomorrow when they make the short trip to Dalkeith to take on Falkirk in the second round at Midlothian IBC.

The holders face a tough match against the recent Premier League play-off finalists but receive a major boost to their team strength and morale with the knowledge that ace player Alex Marshall MBE will be in his usual place of skip.

Marshall is back up the road from Swansea, perhaps on a bit of a downer after his quarter- final exit to close pal Paul Foster in the Welsh Grand Prix, but cup therapy will no doubt revive the spirits of the five times world singles champion.

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Marshall is joined in the skip position by Willie Wood MBE, Derek Oliver and team captain Graham Robertson. That represents an awesome array of international giants going into battle against the less glamorous Falkirk side.

Colin Cook, no stranger to the Dalkieth carpet as an ex-Midlothian man, Stevie A Thomson and former Edinburgh star Andrew Jeffrey form the front-three for Marshall.

Oliver is supported by Ewan Fallen, Dougie Berwick and Jamie Higgins, while Lessel Middler, Derek Lowe and Alan Young complete the Robertson rink.

Wood continues to have a tremendous appetite for such occasions and the 73-year-old legend of the sport keeps excellent company in the shape of Mark Johnston, John Stevenson and Scott Kennedy.

Falkirk may have found West Lothian too strong for them in the Premier League final but to get that far, the Section B qualifiers have seen off the challenge of last season’s champions Midlothian, as well as runners-up Lanarkshire.

East Lothian players have great respect for one of their former stars Steven Glen, who continues to produce tip-top performances. Other Falkirk players with strong reputations include Simon Thomson, Stuart Hogg, Ricky Forrest and Gary Smith.

“We have etched our name on this particular silverware on five occasions and having just experienced a disappointing campaign in the premier league, we are massively keen to keep our prospects of a sixth success alive and kicking,” said a spokesman for EL.

The Edinburgh and Lothian challenge for the Cup is severely depleted with the early departure of Bainfield, Portobello, Midlothian and Balbardie, but five times winners West Lothian remain to the fore and look to be on easy street against Division 2 opposition Inverclyde.

West Lothian travel to Coatbridge for the second round tie and name the same team that is on a cloud nine high following them winning the Premier League title.

Neil Speirs, Calum Logan, Mark Allison and team captain Thomas Mann are the four skips for WL.