Bottom three fight to survive

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MATTERS at the foot of the Canada Life Premier League standings take centre stage once again this weekend with the bottom three all in action.

Douglas Royal currently sit rock bottom and their swift return to JCK Division Two could be confirmed on Saturday if results don’t go their way. Brian Cowin’s men host third-place Peel knowing a defeat coupled with a Michael win would put them down.

The Ballafletcher outfit have shown plenty of fight in recent weeks, but unfortunately for the former Noble’s Park residents this hasn’t manifested into the points they needed to close the gap on the third-bottom Aces who have played two games less than them.

Peter Kennaugh’s Peel side have struggled for game time in recent weeks, but even so you’d expect them to claim the win that could sound the Premier League death knell for their hosts.

Michael also face a tricky task this weekend if they are to claim anything from their home encounter with reigning champions Rushen.

The Spaniards have failed to get anywhere near the heights of last season’s championship winning campaign and have had to make do with a term of mid-table mediocrity instead. Having said that they have shown in flashes the talent that brought them a first top-flight crown in 22 years and the form of island squad member Josh Kelly has been a highlight. If he and strike partner Mike Edge hit their straps the points should return down the coast to Port Erin.

Gymns are the third side embroiled in the battle to beat the drop in action this weekend. Kieron Iveagh’s side, who currently cohabit the dreaded drop zone with Royal, have raised hopes of an unlikely great escape with four points from their last two games.

If Gymns remake the Steve McQueen classic, in-form striker Nick Bowden could yet be cast in the lead role as his goals could fire Iveagh’s men to safety. However, if he is to succeed where McQueen failed the rest of the threadbare Gymns squad will have to step up to the mark, starting with the visit of unbeaten in three Ramsey on Saturday.

The northerners have beaten Rushen and drawn with St Mary’s in recent weeks and will provide a stern test for their reinvigorated hosts. Dave Perry and Ray Rowley’s prodigal sons should claim the spoils on offer, but I’ve got a feeling Gymns may claim a vital point for their survival cause.

At the top of the table, wins are also a must for the top two, DHSOB and St George’s. Old Boys currently sit astride the standings thanks to a six-point gap, but crucially have played four more games than Geordies.

Both need victory this weekend to keep the pressure up on the other, but the visits of the more than capable Laxey and St Mary’s respectively may make this easier said than done.

The top flight’s final scheduled game is a mid-table affair between Corinthians and Ayre. The latter has easily completed its pre-season brief to stay in the division and will provide the Whites with a tough test on Saturday.

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