Edinburgh & Leith failed to hit the heights against Fife County at Thornton with wins on just two of their six rinks but still managed to escape with a battling five shot victory (114-109) to remain undefeated after two fixtures in the East section of The Cities and Counties Bowling Championship.
Weather conditions were less than favourable but the same for both teams and the home side made life uncomfortable for the 2013 national champions with wins over the E&L rinks skipped by Mal Higgenbotham, Willie McDonald, Paul O’Donnell., and Paul Veitch. The saving grace for E&L came in the shape of strong winning performances delivered by James Hogg and Robert Marshall whose combined efforts actually kept the visitors ahead on the major scoreboard for 20 of the 21 ends. “We peaked at 14 shots up after 16-ends but were fighting for our lives defending a single shot lead going into the last end across the green so it was a huge relief that we managed to scramble a win”, reflected team manager Willie Watson. End 2 brought hope that E&L were on their toes with a 9-1 count thrusting them into a 13 shot lead however the signal was a false one as a spectacular 12-1 retaliation from Fife County on end 3 spelt out a warning to the visitors. End 16 will be viewed by E&L as their game-changer with an 8-1 count across the green accelerating their match lead from 7 to 14, a margin that helped boost the spirits of a team struggling to achieve a match winning supremacy.
End 18 produced a moment of major drama and exceptional skill as O’Donnell – with Fife County pressing the game hard – conjured up a magic double-bowl take-out that earned him a single shot reward that was gilt edged in value at that time. The phase analysis shows E&L digging in over the first seven- ends to contain its loss to 35-33 (-2), then inspired by a 5 for O’Donnell on end 8 dominate the second, 45-31 (+14), before living dangerously with a 43-36 (-7) fright on the third.
James Hogg emerged the E&L saviour in chief as he skipped Josh Spalding, Robert Donaldson, and Darren Hush to a 16 shot win over Mike Comrie, highlighted by a six end finishing run of 1, 2, 1, 1, 2, 2 from 16-9 to 25-9. Marshall has started the campaign in great form and the E&L icon figure impressed with a run of 2, 1, 4, 2 from 5-7 to 14-7 then enjoyed a later extended run of 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1 as he skipped Euan Craig, Gavin Smith, and Jamie Gracie to a 22-13 win over Chris Stein.
Veitch and his rink of Daniel Gormley, David Fisher, and John McDermott led going into the last end but conceded a 3 to be piped, 21-19 by Gary Mackie. O’Donnell and his front-three of Steven Pilley, George Kirk, and Neil Watson got back to lead 15-14 from 10-2 down but slipped to a 21-18 defeat from James Forbes. McDonald slipped from 10-9 up to a 21-14 defeat from David Comrie while Higgenbotham collapsed from 14-11 up after 15 ends to a 24-16 defeat from Alan Pearson.
Bellsburn’s first time appearance in The Co-operative Funeralcare sponsored Inter County Top Ten saw the West Lothian champions mark their debut with a commendable 6-2 away win over Stranrear West End of Wigtownshire. The home team drew first blood with Scotland cap Alan Hainey producing a 2, 1 finish that clinched a 21-17 win over Scott Middlemiss in the Singles. But a ‘man of the match’ performance from Alan Murphy saw him skip Stuart Mackay and Jack Murphy to an 11-8 win for Bellsburn in the Triples- having led all the way. Craig Yeaman tipped the scales in favour of Bellsburn as he skipped Sam Gray to an 18-15 win in the Pairs having made space with a run of 2, 2, 2, 4 to cross 12-6. Simon Lamb led from start to finish in the Fours as he skipped Gordon Snedden, Davy McQueen, and Eddie Caulfield to a 15-7 victory.
Parkside visit Craigentinny in tonight’s top clash in Division 1 of the Alpha Trophies sponsored Edinburgh Bowling League but the visitors travel without Hibs supporter Steven Rennie and with Dave Sheriffs also missing the players brought in are Kevin Boyd and Danny McCourt. Hillside also have ace skip Gary Muir opting out to support the Hibees and with John Carse also absent introduce John Reynolds and John Simpson for their home match against Leith. The other fixtures are, Northern v Summerside, and Maitland v Queensberry.