Hockey: Grange eye two wins on pivotal weekend

GRANGE’S aspirations could turn on the results of this weekend. Today they visit newly crowned champions Glynhill Kelburne on league business and a win would ensure European competition next season. Tomorrow the Edinburgh side have a local derby against Inverleith in the semi-final of the Arthur McKay Scottish Cup.

Three points against Kelburne at Bellahouston is a tall order, especially as the Paisley side have yet to drop a single point in the league so far, and in the encounter earlier in the season the capital side lost 5-0. In theory, Kelburne have nothing to play for in the league encounter except the preservation of their 100 per cent record, whereas they also have a cup semi-final against Western Wildcats the following day and four hard European matches next weekend.

Until last weekend Grange, second in the league and with an unbeaten run of nine games, would start favourites for the tie against Inverleith. However, last weekend the Edinburgh side fell from grace, found themselves 3-2 down to Hillhead, and were only saved by an incursion of fog.

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That fact was not lost on Rob Barr, Grange’s captain: “As we found out last week, no game is ever easy, particularly against your local rival in a semi-final of the Scottish Cup.”

Honours are even between the sides in terms of results in the league this season, but Stevie McCurry, Inverleith’s coach, must be concerned about only four points in the last five league outings. In particular, McCurry’s charges seem to have taken their eye off the ball in the defence department, the loss of 18 goals in these five games is hardly silverware-winning form.

Vishal Marwaha, Western Wildcats’ coach, may be happy to have the underdog tag for the semi against Kelburne – that was the scenario a year ago in the final, and the Auchenhowie pack emerged 5-4 winners that day.

Marwaha reflected: “We know it is going to be tough. Kelburne are the best team in the country and have dominated the league. However, we go in with confidence and will reflect on our performance in the final last season.”

In the women’s cup, CALA Edinburgh take on VWS Dundee Wanderers for a place in the final.

Emma Watson, the CALA captain, feels that her squad deserve more credit for their performance this season. “Outside the top two teams in the league, we are unbeaten this half of the season and that has been achieved through hard work and a great team ethic. We have a really strong group of players, and this is the chance to showcase their talents this weekend.”

CALA are up to sixth in the First Division table, and there is only a point separating the Edinburgh side from Wanderers.

The other tie is a mouth-watering affair between holders Grove Menzieshill and Milne Craig Western, top and second respectively in the league table. Honours are even between the sides, the Taysiders dominated the first part of the season, but the Titwood youngsters have put together a 14-game-winning run, including a 2-1 win over Grove in the process.