Greenock in top of the table clash with Stenhousemuir

This Saturday Greenock are once again away from home and travel through to Larbert to play league leaders Stenhousemuir at their ground, The Tryst. Stenhousemuir are unbeaten while Greenock have lost just once.

It is a game with a lot riding on its outcome.

With only four more rounds of matches remaining in the season after this weekend, a win for the Stirlingshire side will almost certainly hand the league title to them. While a win for Greenock keeps the title race alive and could see the Glenpark men become the First Division champions, if they remain unbeaten until the end of August.

Of course, third placed Kilmarnock remain in contention for one of the two promotion places and will take a keen interest in the outcome of Saturday's match at The Tryst. Killie have lost just two matches and so if Greenock defeat Stenhousemuir, the title and promotion race will be opened up and be a real three club battle during the last month of the season.

Greenock's record against Stenhousemuir in all competitions in which they have met in recent years makes poor reading. Between 2013 and 2015 the teams met on seven occasions in league and Scottish Cup matches and Greenock failed to achieve a single victory. And earlier this season, Stenhousemuir once again gained a win when the teams met at Glenpark at the end of May.

Greenock did gain a 'win' in a league match at Glenpark in 2013. Stenhousemuir scored 158 for the loss of 4 wickets but due to a number of rain interruptions, Greenock were set a target of 174 from 25 overs and although they overtook Stenhousemuir's total and scored 165 for 9, the Duckworth Lewis (DL) target meant that the match was still a loss !!

Stenhousemuir won promotion to the Premier Division as First Division champions in 2015 but were relegated the following season. Greenock then won the First Division title in 2016 and remained in the Premier Division being relegated last season. As a result, the clubs have avoided each other since 2015.

The Larbert club have been rebuilding in recent seasons and now have a side which is flying high with twelve wins from twelve matches this season and are the bookies' favourites to return to the Premier Division.

A key player in the club's success this summer is their South African professional Danie Roussouw. The 27 year old is an experienced first-class and List A player in his home country where he represents Easterns in the top Cricket South Africa (CSA) competitions.

The South African wicket-keeper/batsman is currently the highest run scorer in the First Division having accumulated over 870 runs. He has three centuries to his credit, two of which came in matches against Irvine, 137 and 145 not out.

In the match at Glenpark at the end of May, Roussouw was Stenhousemuir's highest scorer by a distance with 76. Without his contribution it is likely that Greenock would have been winners on the day. His wicket will be crucial on Saturday.

Others in the Larbert side who have made an impression in the league fixtures to date include opening batsman John Vaughan-Davies who is averaging 27 runs per game and South African amateur 20 year old Emile Streicher who bats in the top order and is a useful change bowler.

Bowlers Callum Grant and Praveen Pinnamaneni are first and third in the First Division bowling stats. Grant has taken 41 wickets at an average of just 4.46 runs per wicket while Pinnamaneni has taken 26 wickets at a higher average of 9.23. They will be likely to pose the biggest threat to Greenock's batsmen on Saturday.

But Greenock will travel across the central belt for the top of the table clash with just one aim in mind and that is to lay the hoodoo which Stenhousemuir seem to have over them. If they can achieve that then not just promotion may be possible but the league title too.

Greenock's form has been excellent throughout the summer with convincing wins over almost all sides. The Club's Australian amateurs, Tom Nicholson and Ryan Walker, who the Club have brought over for the 2022 season, have been key players in the team's success to date. They have provided a much needed strength to the side and contributed significant runs and wickets in almost all matches.

Nicholson and Walker have also boosted the confidence of players in the side and, in particular, a number of the younger members of the team.

Teenager Lukas Fischer-Keogh has blossomed as a top order batsman opening the innings with Nicholson and has accumulated almost 200 runs so far. And 23 year old Harry Briggs with more than 270 runs is now the team's regular number three in the batting order.

There are a number of injury concerns in the selected Greenock side for Saturday. Tom Nicholson has a hamstring strain, Gregor Chambers is recovering from a foot injury and Ryan Walker damaged a finger during last Saturday's match. All will play against Stenhousemuir but the unknown is the extent to which the injuries will hinder their performances.

The match on Saturday at Larbert will start at the usual time of 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI are at home this week to Anniesland, Glasgow Accies' second eleven. After the disappointment of having last week's match called off because the opposition could not raise a team, the side will just be happy to get out on to the field for the match which will start at 12 noon.


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