Carlton looking to tighten their grip at top by crushing Grange

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Leaders Carlton make the short ­journey across Edinburgh to take on Barclays Grange this afternoon in what is shaping up to be a cracking CSL ­Eastern Premier Division clash.

Preston Mommsen’s men went top of the pile seven days ago with a tight one-wicket win over SMRH at Inverleith while Grange slumped to 96 all out at Aberdeenshire to lose by eight wickets and leave them fourth.

The following day both sides put in good showings against ­Drumpellier and Aberdeenshire respectively to progress to the Scottish Cup semi-finals with there still being a chance they could meet in the final itself at the end of August.

With that thought in the back of the clubs’ supporters’ minds and the fact that the league fixture earlier in the campaign was washed out at Grange Loan, both sets of players are itching to get out onto the field at Portgower Place today to renew old rivalries.

The home side are unchanged from last week’s league loss, skipper Neil McCallum keeping faith with his players.

He said: “Last Saturday was not a good one for us, but the way the boys bounced back on Sunday was really pleasing and we always look forward to fixtures against Carlton. There have been some great matches over the years and for the older players and the younger players it is an exciting time of the season.”

McCallum has played enough cricket with and against the likes of Mommsen, Fraser Watts and Jamie Kerr to know the threat they pose while he knows that getting the wicket of Hamish ­Gardiner early will be key.

For his own side the opening batting pair of George Munsey and Ryan Flannigan have been in good form while youngster Zander Muir has earned plaudits in recent weeks and seamer Raj Routray has been called up for the Highlanders squad that takes on the Reivers in the Pro Series starting ­tomorrow.

Carlton have Ireland cap Rory ­McCann available after his teaching commitments at Merchiston Castle and he comes in for Rob Thornton.

Last weekend, teenage spinner Fraser Allardice took eight wickets in two matches for the first XI and skipper Mommsen said: “Fraser did well against SMRH and Drumpellier and has stepped up well like many of our youngsters do. We will be expecting our youngsters to do well again in this one against a good Grange team.”

Having been deposed at the top last week following defeat by Watsonians, Arbroath look to make amends when they take on Heriot’s at Goldenacre. Darren Spink replaces Matthew Hurst for the visitors with Alex Anderson and Richard Cummine in the home line-up.

Third placed Aberdeenshire have seamer Tony McKenna out with a thigh injury, but Chris Venske returns as they prepare to take on Stoneywood-Dyce who this week will be skippered by Michael Leask. Paddy Sadler is ­captaining Watsonians against SMRH at Myreside in place of Ewan Chalmers. Coming in for ’Sonians are young trio Pete Legget, Chris Cash and Ally Sadler.