Western Union Premier Division preview week 16
PRESTWICK stand just three games from glory but coach Andy Tennant says feet will stay firmly on the ground as the Ayrshire side close in on an historic first Western Premier title.
Greenock travel to the Henry Thow Oval this afternoon to provide the latest challenge to Prestwick’s aspirations and, given that the visitors are still fighting for top flight survival, Tennant knows his troops may need to dig as deep as they frequently have already this season.
The latest demonstration of their resolve came a week ago when they recovered from a disastrous start to beat derby rivals Ayr.
Tennant said: “The guys have kept finding ways to get the job done and they just need to keep doing that for three more games.
“These are really exciting times for the club but we can’t afford to look beyond Saturday’s game.
“We know the season will end soon and hopefully there will be a reward but it will have to be earned.”
Prestwick cannot afford to take anything for granted against a Greenock side who, despite their lowly third bottom position, have recorded wins over Ayr and Uddingston, two of the top four.
Club spokesman Peter Hemspey said: “We will have to be at our very best to beat Prestwick but on the plus side our better performances this season have come against teams at the top of the table.”
Greenock must combat the threat of Indian all-rounder Sachin Chaudhary who is Prestwick’s top performer with both bat and ball, boasting 485 runs - including a century last Saturday – and 26 wickets.
That haul is matched by the visitors’ Australian pace bowler Kyle Scrimegour while countryman Julian Hulbert, with just two wickets fewer, is another obvious threat to Prestwick’s hopes.
A Greenock win would almost guarantee top flight cricket at Glenpark next season while opening the door for Ferguslie and Uddingston to make a late surge for the title.
Second top Ferguslie are without their leading wicket-taker Haroon Tahir for the visit to Dumfries but may have enough firepower against opponents who all-but secured their top flight status by beating Greenock last week.
Uddingston, having survived a scare against East Kilbride, can stay in the hunt if they win at rock-bottom Kelburne where the hosts must win their three remaining games to have a chance of beating the drop.
Uddingston skipper Bryan Clarke, who helped his side over the line to claim a tense one-wicket win over EK, said: “All we can do is keep winning and hope Prestwick slip up but I’d say it’s theirs to lose.”
East Kilbride, meanwhile, must lift themselves from that potentially damaging defeat when they entertain Poloc at Torrance House where only three of a scheduled seven league matches have taken place – a factor no doubt contributing to the club’s predicament in second bottom place.
In the home side’s favour, today’s visitors have severe selection problems with five regulars missing.
The division's two most prolific batsmen are in action at Titwood where Richie Berrington, boasting an average in excess of 100, lines up against Ayr's Michael Papps who has amassed 616 runs - more than anyone else in the country.