Bowls: Bainfield and Midlothian bid to ease relegation fears

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THE stakes are high for both teams when Bainfield make the short trip to Dalkeith tomorrow to face Midlothian in the highly competitive A section of the indoor bowls Premier League.

Both teams are on the four-point mark, with East Lothian on the second-bottom rung of the league table with five games of the ten-match campaign having been played, so survival in the top flight is the name of the game.

Bainfield make one change in personnel from the team that lost their last match away to East Lothian, with team manager John Bell introducing Brian Stoddart at the expense of Craig Aitken.

Stoddart comes in at second to Chris Downie, John McDermott and Gavin Smith, but there is also switch of personnel with Craig Paterson moved from third to Colin Hutchison to lead for Paul O’Donnell.

And in a direct exchange, Bell has moved team captain Craig Moss from lead to O’Donnell to third to Hutchison.

“The result will be massive for both teams and being the away team the onus is on us to produce a strong positive performance and I remain upbeat that our line-up is talented enough to deliver,” said Bell.

Midlothian come into the match handicapped by the absence of six stars in the shape of David Peacock, Graeme Archer, Willie Rankin, Steven Currie, Calum Crawford and Danny McDougall, so, even with home advantage, the odds look to be against them.

“Our guys know the score and won’t lack focus or determination in our efforts to stay out of the bottom two,” said Frank Gray for Midkothian.

West Lothian top the table with five straight wins to their credit but the defending national champions face a tough task against an improving East Lothian side at their Meadowmill stadium.

The visitors are unchanged from the team that won away at Coatbridge, but that means the continued absence of two major names in George Sneddon and team captain Thomas Mann.

East Lothian have doubts over the availability of skip Derek Oliver, so have delayed the announcement of their line-up, but either way they will still be able to field four strong back-end partnerships against the table-toppers.

Division 1C leaders Portobello are idle tomorrow while in 1D Bathgate-based Balbardie get the opportunity to get back on course with home advantage against Cumbernauld.

David Lawrie and Gerry Duggan return to boost a Balbardie line up that was unfortunate to lose by five shots at Whiteinch last weekend, while the two players missing out are Peter Lynch and David Coats.

There is an Edinburgh derby in Division 1C of the Ladies Leagues with Bainfield clashing with Portobello at the Hutchison Crossway Stadium. The home team trail the visitors by two points in the table but they pulled off a shock home win over leaders East Lothian last weekend.

Midlothian won their top-of-the-table battle in the A section of the Premier League with a 91-81 win over Falkirk at Dalkeith last weekend and travel north for a tough match against Turriff tomorrow.