West Lothian have crashed out of the Cities and Counties Championship with last years finalists failing to match the fighting spirit and competitive skills of underdogs Wigtownshire in their semi final clash at Glasgow venue Cardonald.
The 128-109 demise of a star studded WL team that included four current and five other players of full cap reputation represents a huge disappointment given that they had made a strong start to lead by 10 shots after three ends and 17 after seven. But instead of accelerating into comfort zone territory there was instead a stall of major proportions developing from a stutter of 2-7, 4-10, and 4-11 that saw Wigtownshire wipe out their deficit to cross 61-60 after 10-ends.
“Despite the vast experience in our ranks I think we failed as a team to manage the master scoreboard situation and it looked like we were self destructing with panic reactions when heads started to build up against us”, reflected team manager Jimmy Mallon. Mallon was reacting to the disbelief that his team collapsed to such an extent that after 15-ends the master scoreboard showed Wigtownshire dictating the match with a 21 shot lead (98-77), and playing with their tails up. The WL heads were down and forced into that position by the incredible statistic of being well and truly filleted by a 38 shot margin over the space of eight ends and they were unable to find any way back. Ends 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 were the nightmare scenarios for the hot favourites with WL outgunned, 10-2, 5-3, 7-3, 6-3, and 9-6 by a team scenting the kill and now seriously hunting a place in the final.
Wigtownshire, in terms of experience at this level, had never reached the last four stage of the much-coveted Hamilton Trophy in their puff, and were certainly minnows in relation to the 10 title triumphs and five other final appearances achieved by West Lothian. The rink results were shared 3-3 with wins for West Lothian coming from Thomas Mann, Raymond Logan, and Neil Speirs, and their losses sustained by Sandy McDougall, Grant Logan, and Stuart Johnston.
The phase scoring reflects WL making an encouraging start to capture the first seven-ends, 50-33; but collapse to a game-changing 56-21 loss on the second, then making no great impression on the third to be edged out, 39-38. The middle-phase cave in was triggered on the rink of David Rodgers, Alec Allan, Andy Dunnett, and Stuart Johnston whose 16-2 collapse from 8-9 to 10-25 included a losing run of 2, 6, 3. They went on to lose 30-15 to Michael Kelly.
Grant Logan and his rink of Drew Paterson, Connor McKendrick, and Calum Logan were in a good position at 12-8 up after 11-ends but were chinned 1, 2, 2, 5 over the next four ends to be crossed 18-12. They lost 25-15 to Alan McMillan. Sandy McDougall and his front-three of John Black, Jamie Aitken, and Gary Orr dropped a 5 on end 11 to trail 16-7 and suffered a 21-13 defeat from Kevin Kairnie.
West Lothian’s highest up contribution was delivered by Thomas Mann who added 1, 4, 3, to skip Andrew Semple, James Speirs, and John Aitken into a 23-11 lead after 18-ends but had to settle for a 23-15 win over Dean McColm. Raymond Logan recovered from 13-10 down after 13-ends to skip Steven Forrest, Walter McDougall, and Gary Smith in to a 17-13 lead then from 17-17 added a 4, 1 finish to beat Alex Higgins, 22-17. Neil Speirs and his rink of Ewan Shearer, Blair Mackie, and mark Allison, led 14-9 but were crossed 20-15 before a 4, 2 finish earned them a 21-20 win over Alan Hainey. Lanrakshire South stepped up their defence of the title with a 119-100 win over Renfrewshire West at Abbeyview (Dunfermline).