Balbardie gents team was beset with selection problems arising from several of their leading names being unavailable for last weekends match against Dundee in the second round of The Scottish Cup at neutral venue Abbeyview but left the Dunfermline venue celebrating a narrow five shot victory.
“We were against the collar for most of the match but were playing with a strong spirit and managed to get our nose in front on the eighteenth end and battled to a 74-69 win that takes us into the quarterfinal stage”, reflected spokesman Hugh Marshall.
Balbardie’s recent elevation to premier league status for the 2016-17 season made them favourites to beat a Dundee team that had finished fifth of seven in Division 2 North of the national leagues but the gulf in class didn’t turn out to be obvious The rink honours were shared 2-2 with Balbardie carried over the winning line by wins for Walter McDougall and Jim Speirs that more than covered the setbacks suffered by Mark Bonar and Ewan Shearer.
“Given that we lined up for this match without the services of regular skips Sandy McDougall and Brian Craig and high profile figures like Gary Orr, Stevie Fleming, Graeme Byrne, and Ian Drysdale our strength in depth as a club was severely tested”, said Marshall. The host of changes forced upon the selection process at the Bathgate based club included SOS calls being answered by Alistair Wilson and Jimmy Mallon while Bonar and Speirs stepped up to the plate as promoted skips. The restructured line up saw Walter McDougall emerge the highest up hero figure, skipping Tam Whirfield, Craig Sinclair, and John Ellis to an eight shot victory that was supported by a four shot win for Speirs and his front-three of Andy Jenkins, Jimmy Mallon, and Andy Forrest.
Dundee inflicted a four shot defeat on Shearer and his rink of Graham Keery, Stuart Ford, and Davie Ross while John Black, Ally Wilson, Lindsay Forrest and Bonar lost by three shots. Balbardie return to the Abbeyview venue – an unusual circumstance – this weekend to tackle premier league giants East Lothian in a quarterfinal clash that sentences them to underdog status against a club that has captured the cup silverware five times in the last ten years. “We hope to have Brian Craig and Sandy McDougall back as skips and if so that increases our prospects of pulling off a shock victory that would be of David versus Goliath proportions”, said Marshall.
Meanwhile recently relegated premier league, and cup, giants West Lothian IBC remain in contention to repeat last seasons title winning cup triumph but were hard pressed to survive an 83-75 battle against Division 2 club Fraserburgh at Arbroath. The under-performing team of five current international and several other high profile stars remain blessed by a kind draw that presents Division 2 North club Elgin as the quarterfinal opposition in a match being played at Aberdeen.