West Lothian came out of their alarming nosedive in the Cities and Counties Championship in spectacular fashion and caused an amazing formbook upset with their 20 shot away victory (130-110) over East section leaders Edinburgh & Leith at Northern BC.
It’s a result that gives West Lothian the sniff of a chance, going into the final section match, of finishing in the top two; but they will have to beat joint leaders East Lothian at Haddington to have any chance of squeezing through on shot margin. E&L still share joint top and have a reasonable degree of protection from the healthiest shot margin bank but they finish against Midlothian at Newbattle and would be vulnerable to a hefty defeat in the 34 shot range. The E&L support knew the team could clinch their place in the quarterfinals by making it five wins out of six at the expense of West Lothian and probably expected to do so although last seasons national finalists can never be written off. It did become a shock to the system at the sight of the strong going elite brigade of E&L bowlers failing to gain supremacy on as many as five of the six rinks – giving best to WL skips, Raymond Logan, Sandy McDougall, Thomas Mann, Neil Speirs, and Grant Logan.
Especially as the one home rink that did win , skipped by Paul Veitch, did so in inspirational fashion dishing out a hefty double-figure defeat to Steven Fleming. The final score does mask the tightrope nature of a battle that raged for 17-ends at which stage the master scoreboard showed the slender margin of 2 shots in it, reading 99-97 in favour of West Lothian. Peels had been called at 28-28 after five ends, and 56-56 after 10.
Home teams – especially good ones – normally finish strongest but on this occasion E&L failed miserably allowing West Lothian to steal the show, and with it the vital points, with run in counts across the green of, 8-3, 9-4, 8-4, and 6-2. E&L also failed to strike a blow in the phase sectors of the match, losing the first seven-ends, 40-38, then the second, 45-37, and the third, 45-35.
Paul Veitch and his rink of Stephen Pringle, David Fisher ©, and John McDermott showed their colleagues how it should be done as they included one mighty count of 5 and two 4’s as they stormed into a 19-3 lead over Brian Craig, Alec Allan, Mark Allison, and Fleming.
That was after 10-ends and they traded within that comfort zone to emerge commanding 29-14 winners.
Mal Higgenbotham and his front-three of Daniel Gormley, Gordon Bold, and Willie Mc Donald battled well enough to lead 15-13 after 16-ends; but slipped to a 17-16 defeat from Ewan Shearer, Blair Mackie, Andy Dunnett, and Speirs.
James Hogg also went close but having skipped Josh Spalding, Robert Donaldson, and Darren Hush into a 13-9 lead after 15-ends slipped to a 16-15 defeat from Drew Paterson, David Lamb, Stuart Johnston, and Grant Logan.
The most damaging defeat was totally unexpected as it was suffered by icon figure Robert Marshall and his strongly formed front-three of Euan Craig, Gavin Smith, and Colin Hutchison at the hands of Ray Logan.
Logan conducted Steven Forrest, Walter McDougall, and Gary Smith to a master-class performance that included three mighty 5’s and one super 6 in a 35-14 demolition of the opposition.
Jamie Gracie skipped Alan Trotter, Stuart Campbell, and Andy Caldwell into a 21-19 lead after 17-ends but lost 29-22 to Sandy McDougall while Keven Tennant, Steven Pilley, Neil Watson, and Paul O’Donnell trailed 14-1 and lost 19-14 to Thomas Mann.
Tanfield’s first experience as a Division 2 club in the Alpha Trophies sponsored Edinburgh Bowling League could be short lived as the six times Division 1 champions are on course to make a quick return to the top flight. The top of the table situation approaching the halfway stage of the 14 match programme is tight between the top two with Tanfield holding a 4 point advantage over Postal but there is a sizeable gap of 9 points between second and third placed Mayfield. Mayfield get the chance to make up good ground as they entertain Tanfield tonight but their task is made more difficult by the return of icon figure Mal Higgenbotham to the visitors line up. Higgenbotham has missed the last three fixtures but comes in at skip with Stuart Campbell switched to third while the absent player is Scott Wood. The other skips are, Robert White, Ian Duffus, and Andy McNab. Postal visit fifth placed Wardie while Goldenacre (4th) entertain Pilrig (7th); and West End (6th) visit Willowbrae (8th).
Meanwhile Alex Hurry makes a welcome return to first team duty for Parkside and it is a timely strengthener for the Division 1 leaders who face a stiff challenge at home to third placed Queensberry. Hurry will play third to Neil Watson in place of Kevin Boyd while Queensberry have Tam Ebbs available so he returns at third to Brian Pollard with Paul Manson back in harness with the Second Sixteen.
Early leaders Maitland have suffered two 9-0 defeats in a row and tonight’s visit to defending champions Craigentinny doesn’t look promising. There is a middle of the table clash with Hillside at home to Northern while Leith at home to Summerside is a deep relegation zone clash.