Midlothian’s survival as an indoor bowls Premier League club is in serious jeopardy just two seasons after landing the coveted national crown, but by finishing second bottom of the A section there is a last chance saloon opportunity to stay up via the play-offs.
It rubs salt in the wounds of the Dalkeith camp that it was a 14-shot defeat (86-72) at the hands of rivals East Lothian that finally sentenced them to a finish in the relegation zone, albeit with an escape from jail card attached.
“The situation is that foot of the table Coatbridge are automatically relegated, but we get another bite of the cherry in a head-to-head playoff with Inverurie club Garioch who have clinched the Division 1A title,” explained Midlothian spokesman Frank Gray.
That playoff – one of four – takes place at Stonehaven on Sunday March 3 with the winner awarded a place in the Premier League and Gray is hopeful that the timescale will work in Midlothian’s favour.
“David Peacock, Danny McDougall and David Salkeld all missed our latest match away to East Lothian and it is reasonable for us to hope that all our regulars will be fit and focused on what is now the major match on our calendar,” said Gray.
The geography of the venue isn’t doing Midlothian any favours travel-wise or financially but the players are no strangers to distance and these challenges add extra incentive to retain their Premier League status.
“Garioch have won six out of seven in their league campaign and must be respected as their form lines look stronger than ours. However, we can take heart that our section of the premier league was ultra competitive,” added Gray.
Meanwhile, East Lothian’s fifth win in nine games moved them four points clear of Midlothian and safely away from the relegation zone.
Wins on three rinks – skipped by Derek Oliver, Scott Kennedy, and Willie Wood MBE – confirmed their vast improvement.
“The stakes were high for both teams so the opening exchanges were important and in that respect we made an inspiring start with a 13-0 clean sweep on the first end and we went on to lead from start to finish,” said an East Lothian spokesman.