Bowls: East Lothian retain place in top flight

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East Lothian gents can look forward to life as an indoor bowls Premier League club next season having escaped the relegation zone with a hard-fought 76-67 victory at foot-of-the-table challengers Abbeyview in their penultimate fixture in Division B.

The result paid East Lothian a three-way dividend with the preservation of their top-flight status achieved while sentencing Abbeyview and Edinburgh outfit Bainfield to the bottom two.

“We did face the scary situation of being sucked into a three-way relegation dogfight entering the final round of fixtures but that pressure is off us now as we have moved four points clear of Bainfield and six clear of Abbeyview,” said spokesman Billy Mellors.

Mellors stepped into the captaincy role in place of absentee star Scott Kennedy and coped with the extra pressure well enough to skip Les Middler, Dougie Berwick and Joe Mower to a single-shot victory.

The leading light, though, was fellow cap Jamie Higgins, who was similarly hard pressed by competitive opposition but had their measure to skip Andy Jeffrey, Glenn Blair and Ewan Fallen to a five-shot win.

The Fifers certainly didn’t go down without putting up a fight and another result that went close to the wire saw Graham Robertson skip Mark Johnston. Gary Darlin, and Willie Wood MBE to a four-shot triumph.

Three wins on an away carpet reflected a sterling effort by an East Lothian team whose only defeat was a narrow two-shot setback for the rink of Mal Higgenbotham, Jamie Gordon, Stewart W Thomson and Derek Oliver.

Meanwhile, East Lothian ladies had already celebrated the national league capture of the Division 1C honours but enhanced that by finishing on a high against chief rivals Balbardie.

The result was close call as East Lothian shared a 2-2 outcome on the four rinks but the wins delivered by home skips Janet Fairnie and Irene Gray tipped the scales in an 80-76 triumph that was their eighth win in ten. Fairnie emerged the chief trail-blazer and in sensational fashion as she skipped M Kevlin, M Hamilton, and M Thomson into a 17-2 lead over Margo Duff and went on to deliver a 26-11 victory.

Gray – skipping in place of absentee internationalist Emma Logan – was on track for a similar big triumph but came under late pressure in a 23-20 win over Delia Flannigan.

Yvonne Veitch was outgunned in a 23-15 defeat from Sharon Leitch while Lauren Baillie went down 22-16 at the hands of Angie Uttley.

Midlothian ladies’ campaign in Division B of the Premier League ended with a disappointing 83-64 defeat away to Falkirk as they finished fourth of six, six points adrift of table-toppers Auchinleck.