Bainfield v Midlothian is a relegation dogfight

Robert Marshall is an injury doubt.  Picture: Ian Rutherford
Robert Marshall is an injury doubt. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Relegation-zoned sides Bainfield and Midlothian clash at Dalkeith tomorrow in a match vital to the preservation of their indoor bowls Premier League status – so it is a matter of great concern in the Edinburgh camp that the composition of their team line-up is in some doubt.

Top stars Robert Marshall and James Hogg missed last weekend’s match at Blantyre and remain doubtful, leaving team manager John Bell in a state of uncertainty that won’t resolve itself until the late morning of the match.

“I have my fingers and toes crossed that both players will become available, as I am confident that a full strength team stands a good chance of pulling off the win we desperately need,” he said.

Bell – who will welcome the return to action of former cap Alan Brown – was reflecting the confidence fuelled by the strong performance of his under-strength team just narrowly defeated at Blantyre.

Midlothian have a classy spine running through their team, but at times have lacked a mental toughness under pressure – so manager Frank Gray is calling for a heart and soul effort from a team that welcomes back Martin Wyllie and Robert Campbell.

Both managers will have a strong interest in the fate of fellow strugglers Inverclyde at Blantyre, as there is an expectancy in both camps that a defeat for the visitors will make them favourites to finish up occupying the automatic relegation position at the foot of the table.

West Lothian will have their mettle tested with a long trip north to Aberdeen, but with Blantyre hot on their heels, the Section A leaders know they have to deliver.

East Lothian are unlikely to close the gap on Section B leaders Ardrossan, who are expected to win at home to relegation-zoned Paisley. However, the ‘garden county’ will remain a danger if delivering a home win over foot of the table Arbroath.

The selectors have made one change to the team that lost so narrowly at Falkirk last weekend, with Stewart Thomson recalled at the expense of Gary Muir to play second to team captain Billy Mellors.

Balbardie sit top of Division 1C and are six points clear of third-placed Tweedbank but travel to Galashiels expecting to face a tough test especially with top skips Graeme Byrne and Walter McDougall absent from the line-up.

• SCOTLAND’S Lorna Smith today moved into the semi-finals of the ladies world outdoor bowls Champion of Champions event in Christchurch, New Zealand, by topping her section with an undefeated record of 11 wins.