Western Premier: Big week at Langloan

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WITH the Rowan Cup already secured, and a Scottish Cup quarter-final at Carlton tomorrow, second placed Drumpellier will today bid to maintain their title push at the expense of an Ayr side who need the points to pull away from the foot of the table.

The Coatbridge side may already have exceeded expectations in some quarters but no-one at Langloan is resting on his laurels. “This is the most important weekend of the ­season for us,” said skipper ­Graeme McLaren.

“We have a taste for success but we know Ayr are a good side and will be looking to spring a surprise but we are highly ­motivated to win.”

Ayr counterpart Andi McElnea wants his side to hit the ground running after the mid-season cup break. “It’s a fresh start for us,” he said. “Hopefully we can put some wins together and the youngsters continue to get valuable experience.”

Drumps are without the injured Ally Rawlinson while Robbie Henderson and Stuart Jefferson are the latest Ayr youngsters to earn promotion.

Drumpellier may be hoping for a favour from bottom-of-the-table Stirling, who host leaders Uddingston at New Williamfield. Stirling skipper Graeme Taylor believes the visitors carry the burden going into this match. “There is pressure on both sides,” he said. “But there is no expectation on us so we are able to play with freedom.”

Uddingston director of Cricket Ricky Bawa declared: “Hopefully both Drumps and us can come through unscathed to set up an all-to-play-for Lanarkshire derby next week.”

Stirling welcome back Scott Bell, Nick Farrar and Richie Carswell while Uddingston will look to Amir Gul to continue a prolific season.

Meanwhile, Champions Dumfries and pre-season title favourites Clydesdale find themselves playing catch-up after an indifferent first half to the campaign. However, there is optimism in both camps. Dale manager Colin Mitchell believes this match is pivotal and the same applies to a Dumfries side which returned to form with a cup win over Heriot’s last week.

Anjan Luthra is unavailable for Dale but Safy Sharif continues his return to full fitness.

Renfrew, aiming to secure top-flight status in their first season with the big boys, enjoy a slight advantage over Ayr and Stirling but are looking to add to their solitary win when they host West of Scotland.

Renfrew will again look to the prolific Ahmed Said to spearhead their challenge, the Pakistani professional having scored 96no against Grange a week ago.

West have selection problems with skipper Ross Brown and Andrew Umeed both out. Dougie Lockhart returns.