IT may only be the third round of matches in the 2012-13 season but this Saturday could prove to be a pivotal one in the race for promotion in JCK Division Two.
Tony Mepham’s fixture computer has thrown four of the main contenders against each other, with Douglas Royal travelling north to take on RYCOB at Schoill ree Gorree while Ayre United make the relatively short journey to the coast to Balleira Road to face Michael.
Youthie currently top the standings after winning their opening two games while Royal and Michael’s match last week was postponed because of the weather.
The Douglas side lost their opening match to Ayre and will know that they can ill afford to lose any more ground in the race for promotion so early in the campaign.
Barney Kelly’s Michael face a tricky test at home to an Ayre side who are tipped by many to make an immediate return to the Premier League. However, the hosts should be full of confidence having demolished Foxdale 11-3 in their first match, thanks largely to Paul Corlett’s superb seven-goal haul.
The Tangerines’ influx of players towards the end of the transfer window should give them enough strength in depth for most obstacles but this could well be one of their toughest challenges of the entire league campaign.
Elsewhere, Onchan will be looking to make it back-to-back victories when they welcome Douglas Athletic to the Nivison Stadium. The Os had a free week on the opening day but kicked off their campaign with a hard-fought 4-2 win over Douglas and District last Saturday.
Athletic - formerly the Police - have one point from their opening two fixtures and are something of an unknown quantity so far this season but the return of several Onchan players who were absent versus D&D should see the points go their way.
An interesting clash is on the cards at the Station Fields where Colby host fellow top-four hopefuls Foxdale.
The southerners are the only other team along with RYCOB to have won both their opening games thus far and will feel fairly confident of making it three in a row against a Foxdale side reeling from two heavy defeats.
After going down 11-3 to Michael in the aforementioned clash, the Billy Goat Park side then lost by four goals at home to Youthie and are rooted to the foot of the table. However, Alan Lemaire’s outfit will soon return to winning ways and should start climbing the standings.
Level on points with Foxdale are Braddan who have also lost to RYCOB as well as Colby but that’s likely to change this weekend when they travel south to take on Ronaldsway at the Industrial Estate.
The Rockets are a point ahead of this weekend’s visitors thanks to their 3-3 draw with Douglas Athletic on the opening day but the Swans should have enough about them to emerge unscathed and put some points on the board.
The final game of the day sees Pulrose also make the trip to the south of the island to take on Malew at Clagh Vane. A month ago it looked unlikely that the hosts would be able to field a side this season but they managed to secure the services of enough players to continue and proceeded to pick up three points last time out.
Contrary to earlier reports, Kevin Cowin is still in charge of Pully and will be looking for successive wins in the south following their 3-1 victory over Ronaldsway last Saturday afternoon.