News and Announcements
Storm Ciara swept through East Lothian on Sunday morning and wiped out the Cup Quarter Final schedule. With courses closed or unplayable across the county, one match after another was called off.
Gullane have moved their match with Longniddry to next Sunday 16th Feb, as have Glen, who entertain North Berwick.
Haddington will wait a little longer, as their attention turns back to the league at the weekend. Bruce Calder’s team go to Winterfield for their final away match of their campaign with everything still on the line. A win would guarantee promotion, and could pave the way for a tilt at the league title if they can add two more wins in their remaining two home matches. But Winterfield aren’t out of contention yet, and know they can steal the second promotion spot should they manage to beat Haddington home and away. Haddington’s rescheduled quarter final against Thorntree is expected to take place on Saturday 22nd Feb.
And the derby clash between Royal Musselburgh and Musselburgh will also wait until 22nd Feb, with the course at Royal unavailable next Sunday. The scheduling will be demanding on both teams, with both in league action the following day in crucial matches. Royal are outsiders for the title, but need to win at Gullane on the 23rd, whilst Musselburgh must take something from their trip to Craigielaw that day to keep their top flight survival hopes alive.
Royal Musselburgh 4½ Craigielaw ½
This match was a lot closer than the final scoreline suggested. But in the end Royal made the most of home advantage to steal one tie after the other over the closing holes. Stuart Blair & Chris Mackie took their point at the top of the order on the 18th green to move the home team ahead, then veteran pairing John Hall & Willie Reid repeated the feat, just as their teammates Brian Fairgrieve and Craig Johnstone were finishing off their own tie on the 17th green. That made the result safe, and the home team took another point and a half from the remaining ties although both of them also went the distance.
So Royal progress to set up a home quarter final against local rivals Musselburgh, but all of a sudden Craigielaw’s season has come to a head. Nothing less than a win on 2nd Feb (away to leaders Tantallon) will be enough to keep their league title challenge alive. A daunting challenge, but one that could carry a great reward.
Musselburgh 5 Tantallon 0
Musselburgh came into this match having lost their last six league encounters against Tantallon, three home and three away. Add to that the fact that Tantallon are bidding for a first league title in twenty years whilst Musselburgh are odds on for relegation, and it was hard to see the home team as favourites in this match.
But despite all that Calum Burgess’s team showed real resilience, the skipper teaming up in the top tie with Lindsay Shepherd to hang on for a last hole victory over John Stewart and Chris Low. Reid and Henderson returned a similar scoreline for the hosts in tie 2, and that heralded the end of the visitors’ challenge with all three remaining matches going Musselburgh’s way somewhat more comfortably.
The result perhaps gives Tantallon the jolt they needed with a crunch league match against challengers Craigielaw up next.
Glen 3 Kilspindie 2
Glen prevailed in what turned out to be a tight match to set up a home quarter final against neighbours North Berwick.
Barry Ford and William Halliday wasted no time in overcoming their opponents on the 12th green in the top tie. But Aaron Hall and Josh Beveridge hit back quickly for the visitors, followed soon after by David Watters and Graeme White. That left the home side in trouble, but their blend of youth and experience came together when John McMorland and Harry Bent squeezed over the line in the 2nd tie, before Andrew Hogg and Arran Darrie won their final hole and their tie to steal a win for the home team.
The visitors know they missed a chance to go through, but they will soon become familiar with the North Berwick team they could have faced in the quarter final – the two sides still have to face each other twice in the league where they go head-to-head in the race to avoid relegation.
Gullane 5 Gifford 0
Gullane were never troubled by their visitors this week, and concluded business when the top tie won on the 15th green – the home pairing having already claimed the 2nd tie with the bottom tie conceded. The seven times Cup Winners can now prepare for a quarter final clash with second division leaders Longniddry, whilst Ross Thomson had the satisfaction of moving top of the player performance table.
Longniddry 3 Winterfield 2
In the closest encounter of the round, Winterfield fell agonizingly short in their effort to making amends for two league defeats by Longniddry this season. In the end it was the home team that prevailed over extra holes.
However the result wasn’t without controversy, with doubt arising over how the tie should be resolved. Despite it being tie #3 that finished all square, the respective #1 pairs (incorrectly) played off, with each pair featuring their respective team captain. Longniddry won, and Graham Davidson was graceful enough to accept the result should stand after the error was discovered.
Musselburgh Old 2 Haddington 3
The visitors seemed to be cruising in this match when Calder & Lorimer claimed their point on the 16th green to move into a 2-0 lead, after Blair & Martin had won comfortably. But the home team hit back with a win for the in form Scott Greig and Stuart Wright. Those exchanges all seemed a long time ago by the time the final two ties both went the distance, eventually to be shared one apiece. But the decisive point came when Fraser Leonard and Stephen Murphy holed out for a 1 hole Haddington win.
Reward for the Division 2 challengers is a home quarter final against Thorntree.
With both league divisions now well on the way to their conclusion, focus now shifts to the Cup, which tees off this Sunday.
We take a look at the first round match-ups:
Royal Musselburgh vs Craigielaw
Royal, undefeated at home in the league this term, will start as favourites and recorded a win in the league when these two teams met at the same venue in October. However Craigielaw have won on the road three time this league season, and if they can field their best team they could be difficult to handle.
Musselburgh vs Tantallon
Monktonhall is never an easy place to visit but Tantallon have fared better than most, having won there in the league three times in the past three seasons. They are riding high with the league title in their sights, whilst Musselburgh stare relegation in the face. But the hosts have consistent performers in Benn McLeod, Jamie Wright, Calum Burgess and Lindsay Shepherd. They will need one or two others to perform well to beat the league leaders.
Glen vs Kilspindie
An interesting match-up with neither team having their best season. Kilspindie will be buoyed by their recent win over Craigielaw, but Glen have home advantage and know they probably should have secured the win last Sunday. Kilspindie’s chances may hinge on the strength of team they put out, with a real challenge ahead in the league run-in – starting with North Berwick’s visit next week.
Gullane vs Gifford
Gifford should focus on enjoying their day out. They have beaten Gullane just once in the history of the league, but that was over thirty years ago.
Longniddry vs Winterfield
Longniddry have beaten Winterfield twice in the league this season and will be strong favourites. However Winterfield may yet prove to be the dark horses of Div 2 this year, and a surprise Cup win could herald a late resurgence in the league.
Musselburgh Old vs Haddington
Musselburgh Links isn’t an easy place to visit, but Haddington were narrow winners in the league back in November. On the other hand Musselburgh Old will take heart from their recent win over Longniddry, and will be certainly be targeting another victory. The prize of a home quarter final against Thorntree will be seen as worthy goal for both teams.
Glen have been penalised under Rule 6 of the league’s terms of competition for failing to field a team for their home match against Longniddry on Sunday 15th December.
The competitions committee assessed a 1 point penalty and determined that it is to apply during the current season. Glen’s points for the current season have been reduced from 6 to 5.
Gifford have been penalised under Rule 6 of the league’s terms of competition for failing to field a team for their home match against Longniddry on Sunday 8th December.
The competitions committee assessed a 1 point penalty and determined that it is to apply next season 2020-21, there being no possibility of the penalty impacting Gifford’s opportunity for the league title / promotion in the current season.