Greenock face crucial encounter with Langside

Greenock travel to the south side of Glasgow this Saturday to play Langside in one of the key remaining fixtures which will determine the team's continuing position in the Premier Division.

Langside are one of three other relegation contenders, and so a win for the Glenparkers would help kick-start their bid to avoid the drop. The other two sides in the bottom zone are Poloc and Dumfries and home fixtures against both of these teams are coming up in the next few weeks.

Two clubs will face the prospect of relegation at the end of the season. Currently, Langside are in the best position to survive, having won three matches and also picked up 13 bonus points to sit fourth from bottom with 44%.

By comparison, Greenock have won only once and picked up 10 bonus points and are bottom with just 16%. But two or three wins in the coming weeks would make a massive difference.

This Saturday, the 1st XI squad is looking much stronger than it has for most of the season. Back comes Harry Briggs, and also available are Jonathan Hempsey and Phil McIntosh. Ewan Stewart who did well with the bat last week retains his place. And so on paper at least, Greenock will have a team which has experience and which should be more competitive than in some recent weeks.

With just seven Saturday matches remaining, each one takes on a huge importance for Greenock.

The pace bowling attack of Sean Fischer-Keogh and Gregor Chambers has been Greenock's most important weapon for most of the season, and they have now totted up 33 Premier Division wickets between them. Chambers collected all four Prestwick wickets last week as the pair put their pace to great effect and had Prestwick under some pressure early in their innings.

They have the potential to rip through the Langside batting which has been shown to be quite brittle in several matches this season. Support will also be needed, and that can come from Greg McDougall, Jonathan Hempsey and Ewan Stewart.

Last Saturday against Prestwick, it was Greenock's own batting top order which was decimated in the opening ten overs. But with the return of several experienced players into the team, a much improved start to the innings can be expected.

However, Neil Flack and Jamie Nowell are both still unavailable due to work commitments and so the pairing to open the innings will be a question which Glenpark captain Greg McDougall will have to ponder.

Langside have enjoyed a big improvement in their own season in the last few weeks with wins over Dumfries and Poloc, and last Saturday only very narrowly lost to West of Scotland. So the southsiders' confidence will be up and Greenock must be wary of that.

Their batting line-up has a number of players who like to get runs on the board quickly and play their shots from the first ball of the innings. It is a tactic that works from time to time, but it is also one fraught with danger and on quite a number of occasions this season, Langside have either just managed to reach 100 runs in their innings or been all out for a total a good bit less.

But when it works, the team provides a real challenge to its opponents. Scoring over 200 runs last week, Langside came up just short of West of Scotland's 221, and earlier in the season at Glenpark, their batters were in full flight scoring over 230 runs, a total which Greenock were unable to chase down.

However, that match was the season opener for Greenock and the bowlers were understandably 'rusty' having not played in a competitive match for almost two years due to the pandemic.

On Saturday, Greenock captain, Greg McDougall, will be looking to his bowlers to keep the likes of Mo Khan, Asa Khan and Mo Kamram very much more in check. And if early wickets can be gained, and Greenock keep attacking, then Langside can be prevented from getting into the game.

As always, however, the result of the match comes down to which side scores most runs and Greenock need their batters to turn up and play to their potential. Unfortunately, Neil Flack who batted through the entire innings for 87 not out in the fixture at Glenpark in early June, will not be there, so the players who do bat must work hard to ensure a winning total is achieved.

Weather could play an important role in the weeks ahead as Greenock need to be able to play their relegation contenders. The forecast for the weekend is mixed with the likelihood that there will be some rain around, but the Glenparkers will be very keen to get the match played and to pick up the 25 points.

The game, which will start, weather permitting, at 12 noon, takes place at Langside's picturesque Albert Park ground and the Greenock selection know that they will have to be on their best form to gain what would be a crucial win.

The Glenpark (2nd) XI have had a run of disappointing results in recent weeks. Batting has not really been a problem but bowling certainly has as the Glenpark attack has just not shown any penetration and has been roundly dealt with by the opposition batsmen. Skipper Jack Hutchinson is not available for this week's game at Glenpark against Kirkstyle, Kilmarnock's second eleven, and a final selection will be made from a squad of thirteen. The match will start at 1pm with each team batting for 40 overs but it does look as if they will have to deal with some tricky weather.


Greenock Cricket Club is sponsored this season by Cleaning Supplies 4U.