Hockey: Kelburne open up gap over Grange

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Some daylight has finally appeared at the top of the Aberdeen Asset Management first division following Grange’s draw with third-placed Grove Menzieshill at Forthbank and Glynhill Kelburne’s 6-3 victory over Inverleith at Bellahouston.

The Paisley side have now opened up a two-point gap over Grange at the top, a lead that could be more significant as the champions have a game in hand.

The improving Menzieshill under the aegis of full-time coach Chris Anderson was always going to be a stern test for the Edinburgh side, and so it proved.

After a goalless first half, Stuart Bracegirdle gave the Taysiders the lead, and that is how the score stood until ten minutes from the end. It was the set piece expertise of Rob Barr that led Grange’s revival against Kelburne last weekend, and so it proved again as his penalty corner strike was sufficient to give his side a share of the points at the end.

Kelburne also looked like they might falter for the second week in a row when the scores were level at 3-3 with Inverleith in the second half. However, a quick fire hat-trick by former Scotland player Mark Ralph in the space of seven minutes put paid to any ideas of an upset and secured a final 6-3 victory for the champions.

Kelburne were not at their best from the off, struggling to a 2-1 interval lead against a stout Inverleith defence. Scott Sutherland and Willie Marshall found the net for Kelbune while Neil Christie replied for Inverleith.

When Ed Greaves put the Paisley side 3-1 up after the interval the writing seemed to be on the wall, but Inverleith, desperate for a point to retain their spot in the top five, replied with Adam McKenzie scoring from the spot and then producing the equaliser with a low drag flick at a penalty corner.

McKenzie’s sharpness at one end was more than matched at the other and Ralph’s belated hat-trick of penalty corners finally sunk Inverleith’s resistance and the points went to Paisley.

After several attempts frustrated by the weather, Western Wildcats finally confirmed their place in the top five split with a 3-1 win away to bottom side Watsonians, thanks to goals from Scott McCartney (2) and Ian Moodie.

In the women’s league, the only fixture of the day saw Inverleith slump to the foot of the table after losing 2-1 at home to previously bottom club, Wildcats.

Meanwhile, in Rio de Janeiro Scotland’s women lost 1-0 to tournament favourites USA in their final warm-up match for the second round of the World League which starts today.