Edinburgh & Leith may sit top of the East section table of The Cities and Counties Championship but last weekends surprise defeat at East Lothian means they are on a recovery mission against Borders at Bainfield today.
Defeat on three rinks against a depleted albeit very high spirited East Lothian team was a great disappointment for E&L team manager Willie Watson but he has refused to panic and makes only one change. Scott Rogers of Craigentinny comes in for a seasonal debut and replaces George Kirk of Blackhall at second in the rink skipped by Jamie Gracie. Borders will be treated with the utmost respect having already defeated last seasons top two qualifiers, namely East Lothian and West Lothian but their manager Les Clarkson will be frustrated that a shock defeat from Stirling County East at Hawick last weekend has ruined that perfect start.
West Lothian have found Fife County difficult to beat at todays away venue Duffus Park down the years but are favoured by the formbook on last weekends away win over Midlothian at Polton. Neil Speirs was a heavy loser though and team manager Jimmy Mallon gives the 2014 gold medal star a new front-end with junior caps Andrew Semple and Jamie Aitken taking over from Paul Lynas and Walter McDougall. McDougall is switched to play second to Raymond Logan in place of Ian Drysdale who like Lynas is sidelined.
East Lothian punched above their weight to beat Edinburgh & Leith and a repeat of that form should give them the edge over Stirling County East at Larbert but the home side did burst the Borders bubble. Two enforced changes sees team manager Ian Bell give debuts to Mark McCormack of Winton and Ross Marwick of Prestongrane as replacements for Chris Johnston and Glenn Blair. McCormack will lead to Scott Kennedy and Marwick play third to Derek Oliver.
Midlothian have lost two of their opening three games so are under pressure to deliver in today’s home match at Danderhall against West Fife but team manager Drew Pearson has to cope with six enforced changes. Andy Scott (Loanhead P) and Mark Yuill (Deantown) make seasonal debuts while Scott Ritchie, Andrew Wilton, Andrew Buerle, and Tom Moffat are recalls. The enforced call-offs are Craig Hodge, Kevin McDougall, Jamie Macnab, Andy Kelly, Stuart Roseburgh, and Danny McDougall.
The absence of two stars figures in the shape of Ronnie Duncan and Lindsay Plenderleith puts the progress of Bonnyrigg at risk when the Midlothian champions step up their bid for The Co-operative Funeralcare sponsored Inter County Top Ten title at Kirkconnel (Dumfriesshire) tomorrow. (Sun). Duncan’s spearhead role in the Singles is handed to Jamie Hanlan who is switched from the Triples while County player John Stevenson comes in for Plenderleith and skips Calum Redpath in the Pairs. The national title-holders also bring in experienced campaigner Scott Matthews to play third to Daryl Dalglish Scott Lees and Tom Russell in the Fours with Drew Pearson switched into the middle of Neil Linton and Kevin McDougall in the Triples.
West Barns also face a tough test away to Lanarkshire champions Burnbank and the cause of the East Lothian champions is made tougher still with ace duo Billy Mellors and Scott Kennnedy counted out (as Duncan above is) by their international trial match at Craigentinny. Alister Kennedy switches to the Singles in place of Mellors while Gary Landells – for Scott Kennedy – skips Kevin Thomson in the Pairs. Paul Mair and Robert Wilson come in as the front end for Scott Thorburn and Calum Gordon in the Fours. Ian Knox, Dougie Kennedy, and Billy Cormack form a reshaped triple. Bellsburn also have their hands full with the West Lothian champions making the long trek to Campbeltown against their Argyll & Bute rivals.