East Lothian gents have landed themselves in a dog fight to escape what is to them the unfamiliar relegation zone following a shock defeat at home to far travelled Aberdeen in game eight of the 10 match programme in Division B of the indoor bowls Premier League.
The 76-72 setback at The Alex Marshall Arena was all the more frustrating that early developments in the match put East Lothian in the driving seat and by a margin comfortable enough to suggested victory would be the end result. “I am still trying to come to terms with how we managed to blow a win that would have kept us in with a chance of capturing the division honours but such are the tight margins involved we now find ourselves flirting with a relegation threat”, reflected team captain Scott Kennedy. “It is to the credit of Aberdeen that they didn’t fold under our early pressure and showed admirable courage and spirit to battle their way back into contention then edge victory in a photo finish when the odds favoured the home team”, he added.
An automatic drop into Division1 is not a threat with Dunfermline based Abbeyview or the capital city’s Bainfield most likely to occupy that foot of the table position with two games to play; but Kennedy’s new focus is to avoid the second from bottom playoff place. “We are four points and 21 shots adrift of leaders Falkirk so there is a mathematical chance that we could still snatch the top spot however it is a more realistic target that we widen the two point gap between us and Bainfield”, informed Kennedy. East Lothian have their destiny firmly in their own hands as this weekend’s penultimate fixture is away to Abbeyview and a home match against Bainfield follows it. The league table after eight games played reads, Falkirk 12 (+45), Ayr 10 (+45), Aberdeen 8 (+26), East Lothian 8 (+24), Bainfield 6 (-71), Abbeyview 4 (-69).
The best EL highlight to come out of an otherwise anticlimax performance across the carpet against Aberdeen was the excellence produced by Derek Oliver in skipping Mal Higgenbotham, Jamie Gordon, and Jamie Higgins to a 14 shot victory. The home team challenge was severely blunted by the unexpected setbacks suffered on the home carpet by the rinks skipped by Billy Mellors, Willie Wood MBE, and Kennedy. Mellors and his front-three of Joe Mower, Dougie Berwick, and Stuart W Thomson came closest in a four shot defeat while Ewan Fallen, Andy Burt, Graham Robertson, and Wood lost by six. The eight shot pain the visitors inflicted on him and his rink of Les Middler, Glenn Blair, and Gary Darling heightened Kennedy’s sense of massive disappointment.
Meanwhile, New Year Cheer did come to the Alex Marshall Arena, generated by the ladies of ‘the garden county’ who returned from Livingston with the 81-67 scalp of West Lothian. A result that clinched the top qualifying honours in Division 1C of the national leagues. Double figure wins for the rinks skipped by Vyonne Veitch (+11), and Lauren Baillie (+10), were supported by a peel for Emma Logan and with the only setback being a seven shot defeat for Janet Fairnie. “The news that our closest rivals Balbardie had crashed to defeat at Bainfield means that we have an uncatchable four point lead going into our final game”, said delighted team manager Sheena Currie.