Balbardie gents chose to do it via a difficult route but retuned to a heroes welcome at their Bathgate stadium having achieved promotion to next season’s premier league in a winner takes all victory over joint top Division 1 North rivals Alloa.
Alloa appeared to be the favourites with home environment advantage and a record of four wins out of four on their own carpet while Balbardie had piled on lots of self pressure with a shock 25 shot defeat at home to relegation zoned Stirling. “In terms of the odds it did look as if we had blown it but we travelled to Alloa in good spirits and determined to give it our all which we did and emerged from a mighty battle with a nail-biting 79-75 win”, said a spokesman. Had Balbardie lost and finished in the runners up spot it would have set up a juicy playoff battle with their mighty, but troubled, West Lothian IBC neighbours.
West Lothian gents failed to cope with the power and class of already confirmed Premier League Division A winners Blantyre and despite fielding a star studded team crashed to a heavy 36 shot away defeat that sentenced them to a the playoff spot in the relegation zone. The final match in the 10 game league campaign came down to a battle between West Lothian and Lanarkshire and the die was cast for the Livingston based team when their relegation zone rivals rose to their challenge with a magnificent 34 shot (90-56) victory at home to last season’s national champions, Paisley. With Arbroath already sentenced to automatic relegation in bottom place West Lothian have the ‘last chance saloon’ escape route of a playoff against Division 1North runners up, Alloa.
The clubs clash at Cumbernauld on Sunday February 14 and although Alloa are no pushovers the pre-match odds favour West Lothian preserving their much coveted premier league status.
Edinburgh club Bainfield also look capable of getting themselves off the relegation hook with the Premier League Division B strugglers set to play Division 1South runners up East Kilbride whose four defeats in 10 makes them appear vulnerable. The playoff final for the Premier League title features Blantyre versus Falkirk at Falkirk on Saturday February 27.
West Lothian IBC and their Balbardie IBC neighbours both sidestep this weekend’s start of the gents Scottish Cup campaign with byes into the first round proper leaving the limelight to the ladies of WLIBC who face Headwell at Stirling in the women’s version of the cup.