Alarm Bells are sounding loud and clear in West Lothian bowling circles with the County team seemingly in freefall with last years Cities and Counties national championship finalists nose diving to their third section defeat in five games.
Big clashes with chief rivals Edinburgh & Leith and East Lothian lie immediately ahead in the toughest of climaxes to the East section and already last years section winners have suffered defeat at the hands Fife County, Borders, and Stirling County East. All three defeats were at the hands of County’s that rarely challenge for the top honours and the latest one, a 23 shot setback (128-105) against foot of the table Stirling was on home soil at Linlithgow. It seems incredible that a 6 shot win for Raymond Logan was the only win registered by the home team but that was the case with the rinks skipped by Neil Speirs, Grant Logan, Sandy McDougall, Steven Fleming, and Thomas Mann all suffering defeat. The absence of the international experienced Calum Logan and Steven Forrest plus other regulars in the shape of Stuart Johnston and reigning national Seniors singles champion John Black perhaps found the strength in depth lacking sufficient class.
West Lothian made a steady start to hold a single figure lead over the first five ends but Stirling stung the home side with blistering counts of 10-1 and 14-1 that gave the visitors an astonishing 47-32 capture of the first seven-end phase. WL did react positively to the unexpected sting carding an excellent 12-3 to reduce their deficit to 6 but they then conceded an 8-1 before again showing signs of a fighting spirit in the shape of a 12-2 on end ten to be just 3 shots adrift (57-60) on the master scoreboard.
The match remained on a tightrope until end 16 when Stirling hit the home team with a 12-0 clean sweep that put West Lothian in trouble at 14 down and further losses of 7-1 and 10-6 increased the deficit to 24 shots (113-89). Stirling East would be enjoying this as they rarely win this away fixture and they rubbed salt in the WL wounds with a 10-3 count on end 20 hit a peak of 29 shots up. WL had seemed set to rally with a 45-33 fight back on the second phase however team manager Jimmy Mallon will be agonising over his teams 48-28 collapse on the third. Raymond Logan actually only counted on 10 of the 21 ends but included two mighty counts of 5 and one four as he skipped David Rodgers, Walter McDougall, and Gary Smith to a 22-16 win over C Ross.
Neil Speirs came close to skipping Ewan Shearer, Jamie Aitken, and Andy Dunnett to a victory but his two counts of 4 and one 5 was countered by his loss of two 5’s and a 4 in a 26-25 defeat from Stuart Hogg. Grant Logan also came close to a win having skipped Drew Paterson, David Lamb, and John Aitken into a 15-11 lead but they slipped to a 21-19 defeat from J Kilpatrick. Sandy McDougall and his rink of Andrew Semple, Connor McKendrick, and Gary Orr were holding the upper hand at 12-9 but shipped 12 shots to 21 without reply and lost 21-16 to R Crawford. Steven Fleming – with Brian Craig, Alec Allan, and Mark Allison – went 11-1 down on his home green and that margin remained the difference in a 21-11 defeat from Simon Thomson. Thomas Mann and his rink of Nathan McKendrick, Blair Mackie, and James Speirs were seldom at the races in a 23-12 defeat from A Sinclair.
Gold Medal heroes David Peacock and Neil Speirs are set to make a return to the International scene later this month at Eddlewood (Hamilton) having missed last years Home Championship series due to their Commonwealth Games commitments. The Scotland team includes new caps in the shape of Ryan Burnett (Carnoustie West End), Chris McGready (Perth) and John Simpson (Dalzell) also reserves Alex Kelly (Eddlewood), Jason Banks (Inverurie) and Neil Burnett of Rothienorman. The players failing to be retained include local stars Calum Logan and Steven Forrest (both Kirkliston), plus Alister Kennedy (West Barns) with Jim Gilruth (Lochgelly) and David McGill of Monifeith also missing.
The 24 strong team includes 11 from Edinburgh and The Lothian’s and they are; James Hogg (Carrick Knowe), Ronnie Duncan (Bonnyrigg), Colin Walker (Pathhead), David Peacock (Danderhall), Scott Kennedy West Barns), Billy Mellors (West Barns), Derek Oliver (Cockenzie & Port Seton), Ewan Shearer (Bo’ness), Thomas Mann (Newbridge), Neil Speirs (Kirkliston), Grant Logan (Kirkliston).