Bowls: West Lothian stunned by Stirling

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Alarm bells are sounding loud and clear in West Lothian bowling circles, with the county team seemingly in freefall after last year’s Cities and Counties finalists falling to their third section defeat in five games.

Key clashes with chief rivals Edinburgh & Leith and East Lothian lie ahead in the toughest of climaxes to the East section and already last year’s section winners have suffered defeat at the hands Fife County, Borders and Stirling County East.

All three defeats were at the hands of Counties that rarely challenge for the top honours and the latest one, a 128-105 setback against foot-of-the-table Stirling was on home soil at Linlithgow.

A six-shot win for Raymond Logan was the only one registered by the home team, with the rinks skipped by Neil Speirs, Grant Logan, Sandy McDougall, Steven Fleming and Thomas Mann all suffering defeat.

The absence of the international experienced Calum Logan and Steven Forrest, plus other regulars in the shape of Stuart Johnston and reigning national Seniors singles champion John Black, undoubtedly took its toll.

West Lothian made a steady start to hold a single figure-lead over the first five ends, but Stirling stung the home side with blistering counts of 10-1 and 14-1 that gave the visitors an astonishing 47-32 capture of the first seven-end phase.

WL did react positively to the unexpected sting, carding an excellent 12-3 to reduce their deficit to six, but they then conceded an 8-1 before again showing signs of a fighting spirit in the shape of a 12-2 on end ten to be just three shots adrift (57-60) on the master scoreboard.

The match remained on a tightrope until end 16 when Stirling hit the home team with a 12-0 clean sweep that put West Lothian in trouble at 14 down and further losses of 7-1 and 10-6 increased the deficit to 24 shots (113-89).

Stirling East rarely win this away fixture and they consolidated with a 10-3 count on end 20 hit a peak of 29 shots up.

WL had seemed set to rally with a 45-33 fight back on the second phase. However, team manager Jimmy Mallon will 
be agonising over his team’s 48-28 collapse on the third.