THE show-piece event in combination football gets under way this weekend with the preliminary round of the Ascot Hotel Junior Cup.
The draw for Saturday afternoon’s 10 ties has thrown up some intriguing encounters, none more so than at the Bowl where two of the competition’s favourites will go head-to-head.
There St Mary’s play host to Rushen in a match that sees fourth in Canada Life Combination One tackle third. The Spaniards challenged already crowned champions DHSOB for the majority of the campaign but have faded in recent weeks losing their last four games on the bounce.
St Mary’s will offer little sympathy and are unbeaten in four. This current good form may just give them the edge in what is arguably the tie of the round.
2006 winners and outside contenders for this year’s crown Laxey take on fellow Combi One outfit Ramsey in a northern derby of sorts at Glen Road. The Ballacloan outfit sit one place below the Miners and may also be a good outside bet for the silverware if they get some momentum behind them. Laxey have won both of the league meetings between the pair but only by one goal on each occasion so expect this one to be close.
With Combi One winners DHSOB having the luxury of a bye, holders St George’s will look to stake their claim with a good performance against the side they beat in last year’s final St John’s.
The Geordies’ squad has lacked a little depth this season, but it maybe boosted by some home-for-Easter university students and this may just give them the edge over the enthusiastic Johnners.
Combi Two sides Union Mills and Marown will be hopeful of pulling off a ‘shock’ as they face Combi One strugglers Ayre and Castletown respectively.
Also pitting their wits against higher-ranked opposition will be Douglas and District and Douglas Royal.
D and D face 2010 victors Peel in what should be a straightforward win for Steven Corkill’s promising westerners.
Royal might fair slightly better when they host RYCOB, but Youthie will be eager to finish the campaign on a high after their first team’s recent relegation.
In the remaining ties, Corinthians should make short work of Combi Two’s bottom side Ronaldsway, while Foxdale should have enough in the locker to see off fellow Combi Two side Malew.
Michael may also spring a shock if they catch the unpredictable Combi One side Gymns on an off day.