West Lothian IBC is celebrating a great end of season high with their strongly formed gents team capturing the indoor bowls Scottish Cup for a record equalling sixth time, claiming East Lothian as their 83-60 victims in the final played at Paisley.
East Lothian came into the final as slight favourites to extend their cup record to a magnificent seven title celebrations but despite an encouraging start to lead by 10 shots after six ends the efforts of the ‘garden county’ withered under later pressure. It was wins on the rinks skipped by Neil Speirs, Calum Logan, and team captain Thomas Mann that tipped the scales in favour of a West Lothian team that coped with the narrow defeat suffered by Mark Allison.
West Lothian deserve to be applauded for the mental strength the team has displayed in fighting back from a disappointing section campaign that saw them surrender their Premier League title having lost both home and away to Midlothian and Blantyre. Reflecting on the outcome of the cup final team captain Mark Johnston of East Lothian said, “The result is a bitter disappointment for us as especially after making a strong start however over the piece we were outplayed and West Lothian are to be complimented on their win”. Whilst celebrating a cup triumph is a europhic experience for the whole team this one was particularly sweet for the justification of former Bainfield stars Paul O’Donnell and Craig Moss switching camps in a quest for glory at the start of the season. There were only two clean sweeps over the 21-ends of the final the first coming in the shape of a 7-0 on end three that pushed East Lothian into a 13-8 lead however the 9-0 for West Lothian on end 12 was a more significant game-changer. Mann and Logan both carded magic 3’s that were supported by a double for Allison and a single for Speirs resulting in West Lothian exploding into a 10 shot lead (51-41) that threw down the gauntlet to the opposition.
“The momentum was building in favour of West Lothian at that stage and we were unable to stem that flow and it is to their credit that they were always able to suffocate any signs of a come back by us”, said Johnston. An analysis of the three seven-end phases of the match highlights the developing supremacy that West Lothian was able to establish having been forced onto the back foot by the 29-20 loss of the first. WL grinded their way back to hit the front at 42-41 on end 11 then the 37-18 capture of the second phase saw them emphasise a turnaround that put them in the 57-47 driving seat after 14-ends. The third and final phase saw a now super-confident West Lothian team snuff out any late threat from EL with a 26-13 dominance that triggered the victory salute.
Neil Speirs skipped Bryan Cooper, Dougie Mitchell, and Paul O’Donnell to an immense result with the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medal hero picking up from 2-4 after five ends to lead 11-4 after nine. Speirs and Co came under a touch of rising at 12-9 but produced a whirlwind finish of 2, 1, 4, 2, 1, (1), 1, 2 to storm to a 25-10 win over Lessel Middler, Brian Galloway, Willie Wood MBE, and Scott Kennedy. Logan and his rink of Cameron Greer, Blair Mackie, and Craig Moss were being asked serious questions at 9-3 down after eight ends to Andy Jeffrey, Andy Burt, Dougie Berwick, and Billy Mellors. The response came in the shape of a spectacular run of 4, 1, 2, 3, 1 to cross 14-9 then they pushed onto register a commanding 22-13 win.
Mann and his front-three of Paul Lynas, Ian Drysdale, and James Speirs might well have entertained nightmare thoughts when trailing 11-4 to Mark Johnston, Calum Darling, Stuart Thomson, and Jamie Higgins after seven ends. But Mann became captain courageous with a fight back run of 1, 1, 3, 5, 3, 2 to cross 19-11 then finished up with a 22-18 victory. Allison and his rink of James Greenock, George Sneddon, and Stuart Johnston slipped from 7-3 up to 14-7 down then continued on the back foot in a 19-14 defeat from Ewan Fallen, John Robertson, Graham Robertson, and Derek Oliver.