Bowls: McLean and Marshall to fight it out for Tait Trophy

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Derek McLEAN of Tanfield was in devastating form last night when crushing Tom Headspeath of Beechwood 21-4 in the Tait Trophy semi-finals.

McLean, 53, and winner of the Tait in 1986, settled quickly to the pace of the fast-running green, leading 7-4 after nine ends then thrilled his support in the good sized crowd with a seven-end acceleration of 1, 1, 3, 2, 2, 1, 3 to clinch victory in 16 ends in the Broughton Properties/Kelly Joiners-sponsored event.

And according to McLean, victory was down to experience. “I have Edinburgh Bowling League knowledge of the Craigentinny green that runs fast in one direction and a bit slower in the other and was able to master that situation better than Tom,” said McLean. “I feel sorry for Tom as the margin of defeat doesn’t do his career form justice but I had to press home my advantage as players of his ability can bounce back if given the sniff of a chance.”

Headspeath is a six times champion of Beechwood since transferring from The Caledonian club in 1990 and the now 60-year-old was good enough in his heyday to play third to Richard Corsie in the Hamilton Trophy team of Edinburgh & Leith. “I failed to catch the weight of the green and feel dejected at failing to make a game of it especially as the Tait is an extra special event but Derek was a worthy winner,” he said.

McLean now heads for his old hunting ground at Postal on Friday night to face Robert Marshall, the incredible 17 times champion of Slateford.

Marshall is the form horse and the three-times winner of the Tait booked his place in the final at the expense of former colleague Craig Paterson who is now the champion of Bainfield.

Paterson, 32, made an encouraging start to lead 6-3 but Marshall came on to a better line and length that was rewarded by a purple-patch of 2, 2, 1, 1, (1), 1, (1), 2 that saw him cross 12-8.

Marshall then answered the loss of a single with a space-making run of 1, 2, 3 to 18-9 and five ends later clinched a 21-12 victory with a truly magic double.

“I felt much happier with my game once I came to terms with the green’s variations of pace and felt I played a ‘big bowl’ when at 19-11 up Craig lay 4 before I killed three of them with my final effort.”

While Paterson said: “This is my first ever crack at the Tait and I have had a whale of a time with a very pleasing run to the semis and as I lost to a legend I won’t lose any sleep.”

Meanwhile, an extra buzz went around the banking at Craigentinny with the news that the host club’s player of the season, 25-year-old Andrew Caldwell, has been drafted into the Scotland international trial squad; an out of the blue and excellent piece of work by the Bowls Scotland selectors.