Musselburgh survive as Royal Musselburgh and Tantallon relegated
Royal Musselburgh and Tantallon, the two clubs that dominated the league for more than a decade, have both been relegated. The teams met last Sunday, each knowing they needed a good win plus a little help from elsewhere.
But before the high noon showdown at The Royal got underway there was action just up the road at Monktonhall where Musselburgh, the third team in the survival battle, were at home to Gullane. And there was little to pick in the race to avoid the drop, with Musselburgh and Tantallon tied on league points and points difference, with Royal just a point further back.
Musselburgh skipper Alex Chisholm could take some heart from the fact that, other than matches involving champions North Berwick, there had only been one away win all season – his resulting confidence tempered just a little by the fact that Gullane were the very team that had recorded that valuable victory.
However as the match unfolded it was indeed the home team that edged gradually ahead. The one exception was the top tie where Scott Walker and Duncan Low established an early 3 hole lead for the visitors, eventually securing their point on the seventeenth green.
But the hosts took command early in the next two ties, whilst matches 4 and 5 remained all square through seven holes. Perhaps this was a match that held more significance for Musselburgh, or perhaps they just took advantage of playing on their home course, whatever the reason Chisholm’s men showed the greater resolve on the back nine, and it was Lothians order of merit winner Benn McLeod that paired up with Lewis Bain to put the first point on the board with a 4/2 win for the home side in match 2.
And by that time the experienced Myles Clapperton and Scott Greig had established a three hole lead in the 4th tie, soon adding their point on the same green. Then Ian Fyfe and Craig Dewar won by the same score, just as news of success in the 3rd tie was filtering back from the seventeenth green.
So Musselburgh capped a strong finish to their league campaign with a 4-1 win, but would it be enough..?
The Monktonhall scoreline confirmed there was no longer any hope for Royal Musselburgh, but by the time news filtered through to Prestongrange, Craig Johnstone and Scott Cunningham had already notched up a comfortable win for the home team against Simon Holt and Shaun Gordon. And that meant Tantallon’s survival hopes hung by a thread.
And sadly for visiting skipper Andrew Doig, who paired up with Eddie Danks, it was his eventual defeat to Chris Mackie and home captain Jamie Ramsay that meant there was no way back for Tantallon. The tail wagged for the visitors, but not before Darren Fee and Stuart Blair had secured the points for the hosts with a sixteenth green victory that gave the home side a 3-2 win.
It was a bittersweet victory for Royal, for whom the damage was surely done by the four heavy defeats they have suffered since the turn of the year. And it brought a busy weekend to an unsatisfactory close for Jamie Ramsay’s men, who had lost narrowly to Kilspindie in their Cup semi-final just 24 hours earlier.
So Royal and Tantallon complete next season’s 2nd Division line up, whilst Musselburgh live to fight another day in the top flight.