Too strong a team to suffer relegation is an apt description of East Lothian’s standing in the sport of indoor bowls yet the star-studded pool of players that represent The Garden County in the A section of the Premier League have only managed one win from their opening four games.
And their latest defeat to neighbours Midlothian in Dalkeith has plunged them into the relegation zone where they stand second from bottom with two points to the zero of Coatbridge but with one game more played. Midlothian doubled their tally of victories to four with a strong performance that saw them lead from start to finish although never managing to get out of sight in their 80-69 victory.
“There is always extra bite in our confrontations with East Lothian and I am delighted that our players raised their game against them yet again, but I did become frustrated when our early 19-shot lead was reduced to just one at the 11-end stage,” said team manager Frank Gray.
“But we were never headed and that showed great resilience on our part especially as the opposition looked to be menacingly strong on paper.”
Gray was considering the fact that the East Lothian team was populated by major talents like current internationalists Alex Marshall, Willie Wood, Graham Robertson, Scott Kennedy and Derek Oliver – plus former caps Billy Mellors and Mark Johnston.
Wins for the home rinks skipped by AJ Knight, David Peacock and Colin Walker were all of the battling nature and good enough to cover the narrow defeat of team captain Billy Peacock.
Midlothian captured the first seven-end phase 33-16, but East Lothian did well to turn the tables 37-23 on the second before being outgunned 24-16 on the third. AJ Knight emerged the star turn of the Midlothian show as he skipped Andrew Kelly, Ian Brown and Danny McDougall into an encouraging 10-4 lead over Marshall then, from 12-10 down, produced a powerful finish to win 26-17.
David Peacock blazed an inspirational 14-4 trail against Oliver then, at 16-13, landed a 1, 2 to skip Ian Forbes, Jamie Aitken and Lindsey Plenderleith to a 19-13 victory. Walker and Wood only managed to complete 18 of the 21 ends in a thrilling jack-burning confrontation in which a 4 at the tenth to cross 12-11 saw the home skip and his rink of Robert Campbell, David Munro and Martin Wyllie battle to a 19-18 win.
Billy Peacock and his front-three of David Smart, Scott Matthews and David Salkeld slipped from 7-4 up to 14-7 down then never quite got to grips in a 21-16 defeat from Colin Cook, Alan Young, Andrew Jeffrey and Mellors.