ST George’s remarkable 52-match unbeaten run in the Canada Life Premier League could come to an end this Saturday after a bout of mumps decimated the club’s first-team squad.
The Manx Independent understands up to five of last season’s Grand Slam winning team have been struck down with the illness, ruling them out of the weekend’s match at 2010 champions Rushen who, ironically were the last team to beat the Glencrutchery Road side in a top-flight fixture two and a half years ago.
Calum Morrissey, who sat out last week’s triumph over Castletown with the illness, could return against the Spaniards, but skipper Sean Quaye, Frank Jones and James McStay have all now contracted the viral disease. Fellow island international Liam Cowin has also shown some of the symptoms.
Geordies contacted the Isle of Man FA about the possibility of postponing the fixture as so not to spread the illness further. However, after consultation with the Director of Public Health Dr Parameswaran Kishore, it is been decided there is no medical reason why the match can’t take place.
Opponents Rushen were also consulted as to whether they were willing to play the game, but the Croit Lowey outfit are happy to go ahead after listening to the Dr Kishore’s advice.
With talismanic winger Chris Bass Jr also a doubt with a pulled calf, Geordies will be down to the bare bones and will look to the club’s combination side for reinforcements. Conor Dempsey, Sam Taylor, Aaron Walsh, Stu Morris and Connor Dowell could all be in line for a first-team call up as Chris Bass Sr looks to plug the gaps.
To make matters worse for St George’s Rushen, who narrowly lost to Laxey 5-4 in the only Premier League game to survive the wet weather last weekend, will be almost at full strength for the fixture.
Full-back Alex Guy remains the Spaniards’ only serious doubt with a hamstring injury, while versatile left-footer Chris Shimmin faces a late fitness test on a broken toe.
The patched-up Geordies will, however, be looking to exploit a potential problem area at the back for the Spaniards.
Goalkeeper Christian Steriopulos was forced to retire in the summer after suffering yet another concussion. This has left the Rushen management team of Mark Heywood and Ben Qualtrough light in the specialist goalkeeper department and striker come winger Jack Saxon donned the gloves in the weekend’s defeat at the hands of the Miners.
This may give Bass Sr’s men hope they need of preserving their current run and bettering Peel’s record 55-match unbeaten run of the 1970s.
AMONG those looking to take advantage of any St George’s will be current leaders Laxey. The Miners currently sit top of the standings after victories over Peel and Rushen in their opening two games.
This week they travel to a Union Mills side still smarting from a heavy opening weekend reverse at the hands of DHSOB.
Laxey will once again look to strikers Mark Wolfenden and Ashley Webster to fire them to a third successive victory. Steve Falconer’s men could also be boosted by the possible return of full-backs Darryl Haslett and Nigel Beattie who both sitting out last week’s triumph over Rushen with injury.
Mills will be determined to put the Old Boys result behind them, but will struggle against their in-form visitors.
Old Boys sit third in the fledgling standings after their big win over Mills. They welcome Corinthians to Blackberry Lane in an intriguing fixture. Old Boys will be marginal favourites to land the points on offer, but Corinthians have already shown this season they are not to be taken lightly having nearly taken all three points off Rushen.
Peel will be hoping to open their 2012-13 account with the visit of Ramsey. Rick Holden’s Sunset City side will be aiming for a top-four finish this term and should take the points from the visit of Brian Carney’s Ramsey who are still reeling from a summer of key player departures.
Also in the west Gymns will be hoping to finally get their season under way when they make the trip to St John’s.
The new man at the helm at Tromode, Ken Hedley, will be hoping to steer his side clear of their now perennial battle to beat the drop. The former Colby boss and his charges, however, may have to wait a little to claim their first points of the season with the Saints staring the campaign in fine form. Ramsey were dispatched 4-0 on the opening day of the season with striker Andy Glover and player-manager Nick Hurt impressing.
Expect the Saints to maintain their 100 per cent start in this one.
Finally. in what could even at this early stage of the season could be considered a six-pointer, Castletown play host to Marown. Town will be hoping to put behind them the early problems over players not paying subs to put in a good performance against last season’s Division Two runners up.