AYR head coach Stuart Fenwick has had plenty of reasons to be cheerful so far this season, having seen his new-look side win a Scottish Cup preliminary round tie at Dundee HSFP and then put in strong second-half performances to defeat Watsonians and Boroughmuir with bonus points in Tennent’s National League Division One. Those two results have left Ayr second in the fledgling table on ten points, while Fenwick’s partner also had a baby girl last week to top off a great spell for him on and off the field.
This weekend Ayr head to eighth-placed Biggar in the league and Fenwick expects a tough test. “Biggar are a well-established club who look to have a good mixture of youth and experience in their first XV squad and Hartreemill is never an easy place to go,” he said. “It will be a good test for the younger players in our squad and it will be interesting to see how they handle what Biggar throws at them. I couldn’t have asked any more of the players so far this season and weare all learning as a group together all of the time as we try and make our mark on this league.”
Leaders Melrose are the other team left in the division with ten points from a possible ten, and their head coach Stuart Johnson is looking forward to the home match with Watsonians on the Annay Road pitch. “We played well in the first week to see off Kelso and then we were 12-3 down at Goldenacre against Heriot’s Blues, but did not panic and then showed great composure when the chances came our way to record a bonus point win up there,” he said.
“I have been pleased by the way the young players have taken to this challenge. The likes of Kieran Clark and Trystan Andrews are still teenagers, but they are relishing going up against the teams in our league. This weekend we are at home to Watsonians and I have been around long enough to know that you never get an easy game against Watsonians. We are focusing on what we can do and are looking forward to it.”
Highland, who sit on nine points alongside Stirling County Wolves, are at home to Gala. The Inverness outfit have already defeated Watsonians in the cup and Biggar in the league at Canal Park this term, and head coach Dave Carson said: “We love playing at home, because we always get a good crowd here and they really help us.
“I think going into this season some of the players were a bit wary about playing in this division, but over the last few weeks they have shown that they deserve to be here and can compete. We are not getting carried away in any way though, the only thing on our minds is Gala and having such a famous club visiting us is really exciting.”
Gala travel on the back of a solid win over Cartha Queen’s Park last week, when they ran in 53 points.
Stirling have recorded league wins over Gala and Kelso so far, and now welcome Heriot’s Blues to Bridgehaugh. “I was very happy with the grit and determination the guys showed to edge us past Kelso last week and we want to kick on from that,” Wolves head coach Chris Faill said. “We played Heriot’s in pre-season and we know it will be a good contest with both sides looking to play an expansive game if possible.”
Cartha and Kelso are winless as yet, so something will have to give at Dumbreck. The bottom two – Dundee HSFP and Boroughmuir – meet at Mayfield with both sides on a point.
This weekend’s National League Division One fixtures (all 3pm):
Highland v Gala
Stirling County Wolves v Heriot’s Blues
Melrose v Watsonians
Dundee HSFP v Boroughmuir Bears
Biggar v Ayr
Cartha Queen’s Park v Kelso