Scotland: Watsonians in EuroHockey top flight while at home it is the Scottish Cup quarter-finals


Watsonians` head coach Keith Smith is under no illusions about the task ahead for his charges at the EuroHockey Indoor Club Cup in Alanya (Turkey) – they are up against the top sides in Europe.

On Thursday they play Sanse Complutense (Spain) and MSC Sumchanka (Ukraine), then Slavia Prague (Czech Republic) and Gaziantep Polisgucu (Turkey) on Friday in a five team pool competition – and that over two days.  Thereafter in the next two days there are the semi-finals if they finish in the top two, play-offs for five to eight if finishing third or fourth in the pool, or if bottom of the pool a single play-off against the equivalent side from the other pool. And four sides out of the ten competing teams are relegated to the second tier next year.

This is Keith`s take on proceedings, “We`ve got a really tough group – Slavia, Sumchanka and Gaziantep supply almost all the players to the Czech, Ukrainian and Turkish national teams respectively, and each are fresh off competing in the EuroHockey Indoor Championships last week. Complutense are also very strong and have some really talented individuals, including a number of players in the Spain squad that just missed out on bronze last week too.”

In short, a tough schedule for the Scottish champions.

So what are the prospects?

Keith evaluated: “Given that, we`re under no illusions as to the fact it`s going to be a huge challenge to finish 3rd or 4th in our group – and then win a crossover – just to stay in the top division.  But we`re looking forward to play that standard of opposition and test ourselves, and knowing that we play in Europe again indoor next season is a real incentive to make the most of the experience.”

Watsonians did retain the Scottish indoor championship, albeit in a penalty shoot-out with Clydesdale Western.  So Watsonians are playing for their own European future – good incentive.

Watsonians have match winners of their own in top scorer Sarah Jamieson along with Emily Dark from both open play and penalty corners, and others – so the Edinburgh side pack a punch of their own.



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On the home front, this weekend sees the quarter-final ties in the Scottish Cup.

Western Wildcats, holders of the men`s Scottish Cup, have an away tie to Hillhead. Certainly the holders won the league encounter 5-3, but Hillhead have made their mark with a 1-1 draw against Grange last weekend and have rocketed up to fifth in the Premiership. There appears to be a little buzz around the Upper Windyedge club at present.

It is clear that Hillhead defended very well against Grange, but can they do the same thing again to frustrate the likes of Rob Harwood, Andrew McConnell, and Fraser Moran – that is the question. We will find out on Friday evening.

Also on Friday Premiership leaders Grange are at home to Inverleith, the side they beat 6-0 in the league. Grange certainly got an awaking against Hillhead last weekend although manager Martin Shepherdson related that they had most of the pressure and chances – so can they be as profligate again. In addition, Inverleith will be disappointed they lost four goals without reply to Watsonians, and consequently fell out of the top six on goal difference to Uddingston.

Saturday`s two ties start with Clydesdale hosting Kelburne at Titwood – a tie between two sides who might be disappointed with their season so far. Clydesdale also fell out of the top six after losing to Dundee Wanderers while the Buddies are presently holding up the league with only a single win. Ironically, that win was against the Titwood outfit – 4-3 with Kelburne`s goals coming from Luke Bannerman and Tommy Austin who both scored twice.  So will lightning strike again?

The final tie brings Grove Menzieshill to Watsonians in what might be a close affair considering the league encounter ended in a 1-1 draw.  However, Watsonians could start as favourites as recent good form have elevated the Edinburgh side to fourth in the Championship – but you never know in the cup!

The women`s quarter-finals have been reduced to three with Watsonians on European business.

Clydesdale Western are on a winning sequence at the moment which has taken them up to third in the table and it is will be a challenge for second bottom Hillhead if they are going to put a halt to that given that they lost the league encounter 3-0.

Although Wildcats came a cropper against Grange last weekend in the Premiership the Auchenhowie side will be out to make sure they don’t fall at Glasgow University, with the students starting to move up the table. Similarly Uddingston will hope to see off the challenge of Edinburgh HC who are in mid-table in the second tier. Uddingston currently lie in eight position in the Premiership but they could move up as they are three games behind several of the other club.

There are also a couple of Premiership fixtures on this weekend – and they both involve Edinburgh University. The students have not played in the league since 18 November but are still in fifth spot with a few games in hand. This weekend is a double header, St Andrews University or Saturday and Clydesdale Western at Titwood on Sunday. Although fifth Sam Judge`s charges are only two point adrift of Wildcats and Clydesdale, second and third respectively. The Sunday clash could be particularly intriguing, the sides did face up earlier in the season and Edinburgh were two up, only for the weather to bring proceedings to an abrupt halt.

There is also the final men`s Premiership fixture of the first half of the season, Western Wildcats take on second bottom Grove Menzieshill.   A home win would see the Wildcats claw their way level with Edinburgh University on 27 points, which side occupies second spot will depend on goal difference, and both would then be only four points off Grange at the top.


by Scotland Hockey

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