Clubs notch up priceless away wins to stay in hunt

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TURNHOUSE turned up the heat in the battle to make the quarter-finals in the Pollok (Scotrans) Ltd Edinburgh Summer League with a sizzling success at Baberton.

Mortonhall, Bruntsfield Links and Dalmahoy also chalked up important wins on the road as all four of the qualifying sections start to get down to the nitty gritty.

Turnhouse closed the gap on Section A leaders Royal Burgess with a narrow win at Baberton, who are still in the race for one of the top two spots on the strength of having two games in hand.

But Turnhouse are starting to build up a head of steam and their latest win was earned through successes from Steven Armstrong, Graham Robertson, Olly McCrone and Danny Thorburn as well as a half point from Gordon Leitch.

Robertson’s success maintained his 100 per cent record this season, while McCrone birdied the last to beat Ron Bradly. “The result depended on Tom Cannon and Danny Thorburn,” reported Baberton team manager Norrie Robertson. “Tom was two up after ten holes, but then had putting problems and young Danny took advantage by going on to win 2 and 1.”

Mortonhall’s away win came at Prestonfield and leaves them locked together at the top of Section D with Musselburgh.

Prestonfield looked in great shape as they headed to the dog-leg 14th but where home advantage usually pays dividends the Mortonhall men dug deep, none more so than Scott James in his game against Jimmy Moran.

Moran had overcome a four-hole deficit to win on the 18th when the pair met at Mortonhall but this time the tables were turned, James winning the 16th, with a birdie, and 17th to draw level then driving to the apron at the 18th to set up a match-winning birdie.

Musselburgh maintained their strong challenge for a place in the knock-out phase with a convincing home win over Merchants.

“Going into this match our boys were confident of winning and the aim was to maximise the margin of victory as the match differential could be crucial at the end of the group stages,” said Alex Chisholm after a 6…-1… success. Kenny Wright, Scott Reid, Benn McLeod, Brian Henderson, Andrew Millar and Keith Aitken were the Musselburgh points scorers, with Cameron Marr, perhaps a bit jaded having played in the Nick Faldo Series at The Roxburghe, leaving it late to secure a half in his match.

“A comfortable victory and we now look forward to a crucial match at Prestonfield on Monday,” added Chisholm.

Kingsknowe kept their flickering hopes alive with an 8-0 whitewash against Glencorse, last year’s beaten finalists now having a fight on their hands to make the last eight this time around.

“Whilst appreciating that Glencorse had a number of players out, this was one of the best home performances in many a year,” said Kingsknowe team manager Bill Buchan.

Section C saw Bruntsfield Links win at Silverknowes, who bounced back later in the week to beat table-toppers West Linton.

Having won 8-0 at home against Lothianburn prior to that defeat, West Linton are still in pole position to secure a home tie in the quarter-finals.

Bruntsfield Links are up into second but have Duddingston breathing down their neck after Steve Gilhooley’s side drew at Newbattle.

“With us having to win away from home to have any chance to go through to next round dropping another point at home was not a good idea,” admitted Newbattle stalwart Peter Hardwick.

In Section B, Dalmahoy look a good bet to clinch top spot after they won at Swanston New.

James Muir took the top match for the home side, beating Robert Carson, with Colin McClung securing a half against Dougie Hunter immediately behind to get Swanston off to a good start.

But wins from Steven Smith, David Marshall, Iain Campbell and Chris Brown secured a significant success for the Marriott men.

There were also significant wins in the same section for Ratho Park and Murrayfield, even though neither of them are likely to make it to the knock-out phase.

Murrayfield’s 7-1 triumph over Broomieknowe was, according to team manager Stephen Stuart, “probably our biggest win ever.”

Sixteen-year-old Scott Simpson was drafted in by Stuart and chalked up a fine win over Scott Porter while Dave Marshall stayed in the hunt for Murrayfield’s MVP award by beating Pete Avent.

In a tighter encounter at Ratho Park, the home side took an early lead through Stuart Imrie, John Thomson and Gregor Drummond only for Craigmillar Park to fight back with a solid wins from Gary Samuel and Andy Utterson.

In the remaining three games, Ratho youngster Jack Davidson was three down with five to play against the experienced Sandy Scott but, thanks to a magnificent birdie at the last, managed to scramble a half.

Graham Binnie was all square with Innes Christie with five holes to play but managed to produce some sub-par golf to win at the 17th.

At the same time, Ratho stalwart David Campbell holed birdie putts from 15 and 20 feet at the last two holes to scrape through against Fraser Gray.