David vs Goliath is the billing for the Arthur McKay Scottish Cup semi-final between second division CALA Edinburgh and holders Glynhill Kelburne, present leaders of the first division, at Peffermill this weekend.
Neil Allan, CALA`s coach, may be wearing the underdog label but his charges are certainly not going into the tie lying down. “On our day we are confident of giving any team in the land a game, obviously Kelburne are firm favourites and are on course for their seventh consecutive league title. We will therefore give them due respect, but we will definitely be going out to win the game.”
High-flying CALA were romping away with the second division with a perfect record until the last couple of weeks when Allen`s charges faltered against Harris and Carnegie.
“We have had a spate of injuries and illnesses, and a bit of complacency in a few of the players, so we need to pick up our level of performance again,” said Allan. “But I do believe we have the capabilities to cause them problems and I also think the best form of defence against Kelburne is attack. So we will go out and attack them and see how the deal with us.”
The pressure is definitely on the Paisley outfit, especially as they lost their unbeaten record to Grove Menzieshill last weekend, but Kelburne manager Harry Coles is taking nothing for granted. “We are well aware that CALA have scored over 100 goals in their league campaign to date and knocked Dundee Wanderers and Grange out of the cup. They have several forward players who can worry the best of defences, so there can be no excuses on our part should we fail,” remarked Coles.
Sentiment will ally itself to CALA, but it would be a major upset if the holders did not cruise into the final.
The other semi-final tie brings together Menzieshill and Western Wildcats, both sides separated by a single point in the top half of the first division. There is a lack of predictability about this one, both sides have had high and low points during the course of this season. The results between the sides are not helpful, the Wildcats purred to a 5-2 win in the opener, Scott McCartney grabbing a hat-trick, but recently the Taysiders took the second encounter 4-2, Chris Wilson scoring twice.
“The cup means everything to us, we have performed poorly in this competition since winning in 2005 and I believe it was also the last time we made it to the final. It`s up to us as a collective group to ensure we get to the final and give ourselves a chance of winning some silverware,” said Andrew Sewnauth, Western`s captain.
On the matter of Menzieshill, he added: “We are never overconfident when playing them, they are a dangerous and well organised opponent. They will also be boosted by recent results against ourselves and Kelburne, so they will be full of confidence.”
This has been one of Menzieshill`s most successful seasons since winning the league and cup double in 1989. “We have been progressing all season, but perhaps have lacked consistency, but this was certainly achieved in the game against Kelburne,” said Billy McPherson, Menzieshill`s coach. But like many before him, McPherson is wary of the Wildcats` predators Douglas Simpson and Scott McCartney, undoubtedly match winners on their day.
The women`s semi-finals look fairly clear-cut on paper, VWS Dundee Wanderers should dispose of GHK from the second division while all-conquering Grove Menzieshill look to have too much fire power for traditional rivals Milne Craig Western. The omens are with the Taysiders, they have already handed out 8-1 and 4-0 defeats over Western in the league. However, Neil Menzies, Western`s coach, did remark that his side could perhaps take Grove in a one-off match – so perhaps the cup semi-final is such an occasion.
With the likes of Vikki Bunce, Amy Rowan, Heather Elder and Julie Bryce in the Wanderers` frontline, and Ali Bell, Ailsa Wyllie and Nikki Kidd in the Grove strike force, an all-Tayside final in a fortnight looks a very real possibility.
The men’s and women’s Scottish cup and plate semi-finals will be played at Peffermil, Edinburgh on Sunday March 27, 2011. Click here for the match schedule.
Source: Scottish Hockey