Midlothian are only second favourites to win the race for top place in the A Division of the gents indoor bowls Premier League but have entered the final three match straight in fine form with a strong performance to beat Paisley by a handsome 26 shots (94-68) at Dalkeith.
Two top guns in the shape of Colin Walker and Ronnie Duncan missed the action due to their challenge for The World Pairs title down at Potters Leisure Resort, and Paisley arrived as the reigning national champions, but playing with their tails up Midlothian delivered a great show to lead from start to finish.
“We were tested under pressure when the master-scoreboard showed us just three shots ahead at 58-55 after 15 ends then just five at 67-62 after 17 but reached the comfort zone of 20 shots up (84-64) with a thrilling 8-1 and 9-1 acceleration, reflected team manger Frank Gray. The phase analysis highlights a hard fought battle for most of the match with the home team coming out on top on all three with figures of 30-21, 28-27, and 36-20.
Midlothian entered the closing stages of the 10 match programme sharing top spot with Blantyre; but handicapped by a massive shot difference that with just two games now remaining casts them adrift by a mind boggling 160. “We finish against Lanarkshire at Dalkeith and foot of the table Arbroath away both of which are must win games for us however we also need either Paisley at home or West Lothian away to take a point off Blantyre” said Gray.
Gray had to cope with two more hits to his line up against Paisley with late call-offs from Ryan Yuill and Colin Cook to which his response was to bring in Dougie Russell from the reserve bench, and get former cap Ian Brown, currently out of the mainstream, to answer his SOS call. Paisley arrived with five wins out of seven and only two points adrift of the joint leaders so the defending champions had much to play for but in the unfolding drama failed to cope with winning performances from Midlothian skips Billy Peacock, David Peacock, and Sandy Knight.
The standout figure for Midlothian and the chief architect of their victory was eldest Peacock brother Billy who set the Dalkeith stadium alight as he blazed the trail of an inspirational 24 shot victory, ably assisted by his front-three of Dougie Russell, Neil Linton, and Danny McDougall. Peacock (Billy) and his rink carried a slow to hit their stride home team on their shoulders over the opening nine ends having stormed into a 17-0 lead with a whirlwind run of 3, 2, 3, 2, 2, 4, 1, then answering the loss of a four with a six, three reply to lead 26-4.
A drop in pace saw Peacock and Co closed to 32-18 after 17 ends but finding a second wind fired up a grandstand finish of 3, 4, 3 to beat Davy Moffat, 42-18. Peacock (David) found himself one shot adrift (13-14) after 18-ends but the icon gold medal figure skipped Jamie Macnab, Scott Matthews, and Craig Hodge to a big 4, (1), 5 finish to beat David Fisher, 22-15. Knight helped ease the growing pressure on Midlothian with a mighty count of five on end 16 to skip Ian Forbes, Ian Fleming, and Lindsay Plenderleith into a 12-10 lead then they battled on to beat Colin Taggart, 17-13. Paisley did spill some home blood with Derek Stobbo inflicting a 22-13 wound on the rink of Jack Macnab, Ian Brown, Andy Caldwell, and Colin Macfarlane.