The first major piece of silverware of the 2013-14 football season is up for grabs at the Bowl on Boxing Day as St George’s and Rushen go head-to-head for the BCS Railway Cup.
Premier League pacesetters St George’s will be hoping to hold aloft the impressive Yuletide trophy for a fourth year in a row as they launch their latest Grand Slam bid.
Opponents Rushen have their own pedigree in the competition having won it 15 times, the last occasion coming in 2008-09.
Geordies will go into St Stephen’s Day clash as favourites having triumphed in the two league contests between the two sides this term.
Chris Bass Sr’s Glencrutchery Road juggernauts have only dropped just two points in 13 league games to reinforce their reputation as the island’s team to beat.
St George’s are infamously well-equipped across the park, but will face a Rushen side that are the top flight’s third highest scorers and potent force in the attacking third.
Mercurial front man Josh Kelly has struck 15 goals in the league and leads a front line that also includes the exciting talents of Mike Williams, Ste Riding and Jack Saxon.
At the other end of the pitch the Croit Lowey outfit’s backline has been perhaps a tad more porous than manager Neil Curphey would have liked, conceding just over two goals a game.
Youngster Alex Maitland has emerged as a real talent in that defence, but will face a stern test against a well-honed St George’s forward line that includes island internationals Chris Bass Jr and the Premier League’s current top scorer, Ciaran McNulty.
Conor Doyle has also shone on his return to the island from the US and the trio’s attacking talents should make up for the absence of talisman Calum Morrissey who remains troubled by a long-term back injury but should be fit enough for a place on the bench for the Saints.
With the Geordies’ defensive unit firing on all cylinders expect the holders to be celebrating a belated Christmas present come Thursday evening.
Kick-off is 3pm.
St George’s squad: Grant Dawson, David Cherry, Chris Bass, Liam Cowin, Conor Doyle, Alex Harrison, Ashley Higginbotham, Frank Jones, James Mcstay, Jack McVey, Ciaran McNulty, Calum Morrissey, Johnny Myers, Sean Quaye (c), Julian Ringham and Reece Thompson.
Rushen United squad: Michael Baker, Harry Best, Ciaran Brown, Adam Cregeen, Furo Davies, Jay Gandy, Alex Guy, Aaron Hawley (c), Josh Kelly, Alex Maitland, Daniel Pownall, Ste Riding, Jack Saxon, Chris Shimmin, Jordan Watterson, Mike Williams.