East of Scotland League: Top two clash

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After last weekend’s fixture wipeout due to the weather, the East of Scotland League programme throws up an intriguing contest between two of the league’s top teams this weekend.

Leith Athletic travel across the city to face Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale at Saughton Enclosure hoping to extend their 15-point lead at the top of the table, It’s the beginning of an important month for the Meadowbank-based side, with successive away trips to Coldstream and Hawick Royal Albert coming up afterwards.

Lothian still have five games in hand over their title rivals following their Scottish Cup run, Leith having won the corresponding fixture 4-1 at Meadowbank in September.

Both sides have been frustrated in recent weeks with match postponements and Lothian boss Raymond Carr has his doubts for this weekend with the fixtures piling up for clubs across the division.

“The pitch at Saughton is still very heavy and there’s a chance it might be called off,” he said. “If we can find an alternative venue that we can agree with Leith then we’ll do so, but it’s very difficult to get other pitches booked.”

Carr knows his troops could have been lining up against Celtic in the fifth round of the Scottish Cup this weekend had they overcome East Kilbride in the last round, but he insists that won’t distract them for the remainder of the season.

“The players had a great run in the Scottish Cup, but they have to put that behind them and focus on the league.”

“We’re slowly getting players back and will aim to give a good account of ourselves for the rest of the season.”

Elsewhere, Spartans EoS face Ormiston at Ainslie Park (12.45pm) whilst Heriot-Watt-University face Hawick Royal Albert at Riccarton 3G.

Civil Service Strollers travel to Eyemouth United, whilst Graham Buckley takes charge of Craigroyston for the first time with the visit of Coldstream to St Mark’s Park.

“The attitude in training from the boys has been very good so far,” Buckley said. “It can be difficult to get players into this league from other clubs, but it’s a good standard of football and I’m working with a hungry young squad.”

Tynecastle’s match with Duns has been switched to Riccarton 3G (4.30pm kick-off), with Duns New Hawthorn Park still unplayable.

“4.30 was the only time we could book because Heriot-Watt and the Amateur side play on the 3G earlier in the day” said Tynecastle head coach Steve Vinter. “We’re just thankful to get a game on because the league is our main focus.”

All other matches have a 2.00pm kick-off unless stated.