Scotland: Peffermill for goals amidst a full Premiership card

There is a huge game at Peffermill this weekend, where third placed Edinburgh University take on Western Wildcats in second spot in the men`s Premiership. At the moment Wildcats have a three point lead but with a game more played – so it`s tight.

Whatever the outcome at Peffermill, leaders Grange may be the benefactor with one, or both, of the sides dropping valuable points – that is if they can see off Clydesdale elsewhere in Edinburgh.

The Edinburgh students have had a relatively consistent start to the season with six victories from their seven games, the only blip being the 3-1 reversal at the hands of Watsonians

We asked Hamish Imrie, Edinburgh University`s coach, his evaluation of proceedings. “We were disappointed in the Watsonians result, but overall happy with how we are developing as a team.”

Last season Edinburgh finish in third spot, eight points in front of fourth placed Clydesdale but ten and eleven behind Western and Grange respectively. So Hamish Imrie`s charges failed to break into the top two`s monopoly.

Can they buck that trend at Peffermill on Saturday? That remains to be seen.

Hamish said: “We are looking forward to the challenge this Saturday against Western. They are a top side who just competed in the EHL and Saturday will show how close we are to try breaking into the top two. But we have got a game this Wednesday we need to put our full focus on away at Nottingham.”

But pleasing for Hamish Imrie must be the goal scoring feats of Keir Robb, he has found the net 13 times in the last five games – that is good shooting.

As expected, the Wildcats are on the prowl again this season with seven wins out of eight, only a 2-1 defeat by Grange to blemish the record. And they have plenty of players to step up and score goals – the likes of last weekend`s hat-trick hero Adam MacKenzie along with Rob Harwood, Fraser Moran and several others.

So we should be in for a feast of goals at Peffermill.

Grange, the only unbeaten side in the competition, are now also turning on the goal scoring tap with 13 in their last two games. Next they face FSEG Clydesdale looking to upset that trend. After a promising start to the campaign the Titwood-based side have slipped down the table to eighth after last weekend`s 6-4 loss to Edinburgh University.

Although Watsonians lost heavily at Auchenhowie last Saturday, they still retain fourth spot and will hope to be able to consolidate that position at home to a Kelburne side that has only had one crumb of comfort – a 4-3 win over Clydesdale.

Victories last weekend for Uddingston and Inverleith have pushed them both into the top six – the task now is staying there. Both face Tayside opposition, the Edinburgh outfit travel to meet a Wanderers` side pumped up by their recent 4-1 triumph over rivals Grove Menzieshill. Perhaps not an easy assignment for the visitors.

In contrast Uddingston are at home to Grove Menzieshill and coach Tom Hyndman will be hoping to repeat the same 4-0 score line as last weekend against Kelburne.

And so to the final fixture on the men’s card between Hillhead and ESM. The former were on win-ethic mode in recent weeks and that took them to fifth in the table, but back to back defeats to Western and Inverleith have stifled that renaissance a bit, and coach Yan Adams must try and galvanise his charges into recovery mode on Saturday.

ESM have been going through a sticky patch of late with only two points in their last five games, and only four goals in the process. There is undoubted talent in the side but they must start turning that into points. Perhaps Saturday will be the occasion.

On Sunday ESM are back in Glasgow to play their catch-up fixture against Clydesdale. While Edinburgh University visit Uddingston in a bid to take over second place.

In the women`s Premiership this weekend champions Watsonians are at home to Hillhead, while Edinburgh University entertain Inverleith.

Second placed Wildcats could have a tough assignment at a St Andrews University side that picked up their second victory of the campaign against Hillhead. The Cats will hope to have too much muscle for the students but they were humbled by Edinburgh University two weeks ago, and coach Kaz Cuthbert was forced to admit it was a “a really poor day at the office.” However, Kaz will be out there on Saturday to ensure that there is not another “poor day”, and that Emma McDiarmid and her colleagues have their shooting sticks at the ready.

Continuing the same theme Clydesdale Western travel to Aberdeen to face a Gordonians side that have only scored five goals and conceded 49.

So what of the rest?

GHK are at last moving closer to the top six after back-to-back wins against Gordonians and St Andrews, and before that they only went down to a late strike by Jika Nyirenda at Edinburgh University. So it can be safe to assume that Fiona Semple`s charges are on their way back after a sluggish start to the season. And Lucy Williamson is emerging as their main sharp shooter with six goals in the last two outings.

On Saturday they travel the short distance to Glasgow University in search of another three points. The students have picked up only three points in their five games so far, courtesy of a single strike by Dara Devine against Hillhead, but you have the feeling that they are capable of more points in the future.

And now to Uddingston versus Grange – a competitive prospect as both teams are in the top six. Apart from heavy defeats at the hands of Watsonians and Edinburgh University, Uddingston have shown some form with three wins to take up sixth place in the division. Coach Gareth Ikin will be hoping that Lexi MacMillan and her colleagues can bang in a few goals at home on Saturday to collect another three points.

However, Grange have shown more than a bit of form this season, four wins out of six, a 1-1 draw with Edinburgh University followed by knocking the students out of the Scottish Cup – not bad going. Also they have two sharpshooters in the shape of Hanna McKie and Heather Croll. If third placed Grange hope to retain their place in the top six, then three points at Uddingston would help greatly.

Not easy to predict this one, but a great contest is a certainty.

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by Scotland Hockey

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