Bowls: Bainfield cautious despite East Lothian’s struggles

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THE MEADOWMILL stadium at Tranent isn’t the intimidating lion’s den of recent times, with the current East Lothian side making an indifferent start to their campaign in the A section of the indoor bowls Premier League, but expectations are that they could fire up their challenge some time soon.

Bainfield are the visitors tomorrow and Edinburgh’s elite will hope to find the home side still vulnerable to a team that whacked Coatbridge last weekend and has been strengthened by the return of ace duo Robert Marshall and Stevie McLeod.

It was a no-brainer for team manager John Bell to accommodate the return of last weekend’s absent stars, opting to switch John Kidd and Stephen Pringle to the reserve bench.

Bell is also making some positional changes with the return of Marshall at skip coinciding with a new front three of Neil Watson, Alan Brown and James Hogg while McLeod plays third to Paul O’Donnell with Craig Moss and Stuart Patterson forming the front-end.

Gavin Smith receives John McDermott as his third and a front-end of Chris Downie and Paul Millar while the rink comprising Daniel Gormley, Craig Aitken, Craig Paterson and Colin Hutchison is the only one unchanged.

“I feel we are capable of achieving our first back-to-back victories of the season if we play to our best form but East Lothian will be hungry to fuel their escape from the relegation zone,” said Bell.

East Lothian’s record of one win from four games is depressing stuff for a team of many talents and they will have to improve their position without the help of Alex Marshall, who has jetted out to Australia.

Marshall is headed for the World Outdoor Championships in Adelaide and his absence is covered by the return of Jamie Higgins, who will line up at third to Scott Kennedy.

Kennedy is joined at the helm of East Lothian’s challenge by regular skips Willie Wood, Billy Mellors and Derek Oliver with support coming from solid thirds in Mark Johnston, Andrew Jeffrey and Graham Robertson.

West Lothian are the only undefeated team in the section making the defending national champions look like the banker bet of the day as they visit foot-of-the-table Coatbridge.

The absence of team captain Thomas Mann and George Sneddon is answered by the return of Richard Mark and Dougie Mitchell who form the front-end for Des Hagart and Neil Speirs.

More positional changes sees James Speirs fill the shoes of Mann and he skips Cameron Greer, Ian Drysdale and Bryan Cooper while Stuart Johnston lines up at third to Calum Logan with a front-end of David Wilson Snr and Blair Mackie.

The only rink to remain untouched is Paul Lynas, Raymond Logan, Jamie Gracie and Mark Allison.

Midlothian travel to Falkirk as underdogs but can never be written off even without top star David Peacock and Danny McDougall.

Ronnie Duncan and Scott Runciman return to the Midlothian line-up while team manager Frank Gray has recalled Drew Pearson at the expense of David Smart.

It’s a big day for Division 1C joint leaders Portobello who face a tough visit to Abbeyview but team manager Robert Wood has released no team news. Balbardie visit Whiteinch in Division 1D and the joint leaders bring in David Lawrie, Graham Keery and Diz Drysdale for Hugh Marshall, Lindsey Forrest and Gerry Duggan.