Midlothian gents made heart-thumping progress into the final of the indoor bowls Scottish Cup with the stars from the Dalkeith Stadium surviving a dramatic tension filled climax to beat Blantyre, 6-4 on points, in their semi final clash at Falkirk.Read More
An epic encounter from start to finish saw the premier league rivals trade punch and counterpunch in dynamic fashion as a battle that went right down to the wire ended with the victory salute only being triggered after the final bowl had been delivered. Wins on the rinks skipped by Colin Walker and Ronnie Duncan for Midlothian were matched by Blantyre triumphs notched up by Brian Irvine and Scott Bishop leaving the final outcome to be decided by the superior match aggregate. The final spotlight focused on Duncan versus former World Singles champion Stewart Anderson and a temperature soaring scenario reflected the sizzling melting pot situation of a match aggregate of 78-78.
Midlothian hopes were the first to rise with the build up play putting them into the driving seat with the hold of a single shot however a shattering nosedive experience sent jitters through their camp with Anderson converting the advantage to Blantyre as the result of brilliant take-out. Walker took to the mat for his final delivery with all the pressures of the world on his shoulders so there was a massive outburst of tumultuous acclaim from the travelling Midlothian support when their own star of the international arenas conjured up a magic draw that finished up cosily smothering the jack. The noisy stadium hushed to a stillness of quiet breath-holding silence as Anderson concentrated on a final bowl of the match delivery whose outcome would make or break hearts in the respective camps. It was Midlothian cheers of victory and relief that broke the silence in response to Andersons aggressive do or die effort whizzing past the head having caused no disruption. This semi final is one of the greatest spectacles I have witnessed in bowls and a credit to the skills and spirit of both teams, reflected team manager Frank Gray. Gray had faced a pre-match challenge with talisman figure Sandy (AJ) Knight forced by an injury to call off and a slight adjustment in positions saw Colin Cook come off the bench to play lead.
Walker was first to finish and an inspirational contribution saw him skip David Salkeld, John Stevenson, and Lindsay Plenderleith into a 19-9 lead over Iain McLean then hold on to deliver a valuable 20-15 win over the world stage star. Team captain David Peacock led 7-0 but later dropped a 5 to come under pressure at 17-11 down and in company with Ian Forbes, Ian Fleming, and Scott Briggs suffered a 23-20 defeat from Brian Irvine. Blantyre went 4-2 up on points when Scott Bishop cashed in on a 15-6 led to punish Scott Runciman, Craig Hodge, Andy Caldwell, and Graeme Archer with a 23-20 defeat, The hero role played by Duncan was double-edged as in company with his front-three of Colin Cook, Jim Cullen, and Billy Peacock they trailed 17-16 in their must win game; but pulled both game and match victory out of the hat by conjuring up a magic 2, 1 finish to win 19-17. Falkirk beat East Kilbride, 8-2, in a formbook outcome to the other semi final played at Stirling.