Greenock face must-win game with Renfrew

Greenock make a welcome return to Glenpark on Saturday after three consecutive matches away from home. And with last weekend's defeat by Drumpellier still so fresh in the minds of the team, a positive result against Saturday's opponents Renfrew is essential to maintain the push for promotion.

The delight at defeating league leaders Stenhousemuir two weeks ago to go top of the table was quickly replaced last weekend by the disappointment of losing to Drumpellier. Not only did the defeat mean Greenock slipped back to second top spot it also once again threw open the race for the two promotion places.

Stenhousemuir returned to the top of the league table having lost just once this season while Greenock and Kilmarnock have both been beaten twice. But the Glenparkers are just marginally ahead on percentage thanks to a greater number of bonus points. The Greenock team know that the last three matches of the season must be won.

Sixth placed Renfrew are Greenock's opponents on Saturday. The 'Ferrymen' have won just four matches in the league this season, all of which have been against teams occupying positions lower than their own.

Against the top four sides Renfrew have fared less well. Twice they have lost heavily to league leaders Stenhousemuir and also twice to Kilmarnock and Drumpellier. In their home matches against Kilmarnock and Drumpellier the matches were quite well contested but on each occasion the visitors still came out on top.

Greenock's match against Renfrew at the King George V Playing Fields in Round 7 of the league fixtures in June was cancelled due to rain so Saturday's match will be their first league meeting of the season.

Israr Hussain has been an ever present for Renfrew and he heads the run-scoring for the team with a total of 334 runs at an average of 24. His highest score, 93, came against GHK at their Old Anniesland ground in Glasgow.

Paid coach Farhan Khan averages 29 having scored 320 runs from just 13 appearances. He is an attacking batsman and his wicket will be an important one for Greenock to capture. His top score of 80 came against Drumpellier at the end of May.

Other Renfrew run scorers Greenock will do well to keep in check include Hussanain Haider and Gautam Kakar. Both are capable batsmen but have lacked any real consistency during the season.

Haider is also the top wicket-taker for the team with 21 wickets, including five taken against Hillhead on the first Saturday in May. However, he is normally a second or third change bowler with Himanshu Sharma (14 wickets) regularly leading the Renfrew attack.

Sharma does not have a consistent opening bowling partner and in recent matches has been joined by Sajjad Ahmed, Rahul Jagdale, Sai Majeed and Yatin Patel but none of these has posed much danger to the opposition batting line-ups.

Greenock's team against Renfrew shows three changes from last week's match against Drumpellier as Harry Briggs, Jamie Nowell and Tom Forrest are all unavailable but those selected for the match should have sufficient strength to provide a winning performance.

Tom Nicholson and Ryan Walker, Greenock's two Australian amateurs had a quiet game by their standards last Saturday. Neither was able to make much of an impression against the Drumpellier top order batsmen and when batting themselves, both got in but then were not able to push on to a big innings.

The Aussies have had a fine season for Greenock and should not be expected to be the main players every match. They are both in the top four for runs and wickets in the First Division statistics and will be looking to get back amongst the wickets and big runs at Glenpark this Saturday when conditions with hot sunshine should make them feel at home.

It was arguably Greenock's poorest performance of the season against Drumpellier at Langloan. Few of the Glenpark side were able to find the sort of performances which would have been required to overcome the Lanarkshire team and as a result the team's stay at the top of the league was short-lived.

Confidence, concentration and a will to win must be at the forefront of the players approach when they take to the field at Glenpark on Saturday. With eleven wins from thirteen matches completed this is a good Greenock side.

And with only three matches remaining, all against teams outwith the top five in the table, Greenock must aim to be unbeaten in the run-in to the end of the league season.

Team captain, Greg McDougall, stated "After last week's disappointing result, the players are eager to get back on to the field and back to winning ways. The Renfrew side is an experienced one but we are confident we have the players in our side to gain the the win we need to retain our promotion position".

Saturday's match will start at the usual time of 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI have no game this week.


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