The 100th edition of the the Cu-Plas Railway Cup bursts into life on Saturday afternoon with this year’s two semi-finals.
The draw has served up two intriguing ties, pitting Peel against St George’s at Colby and St Mary’s with Corinthians at the Bowl.
Geordies have won the competition for the last six seasons equalling the record set by Peel in the late 1960s, and early 1970s. St George’s boss Chris Bass Sr was keen to play down his side’s chances of making it seven in a row earlier in the week, saying his side had done exceptionally without injured strikers Calum Morrissey and Ciaran McNulty.
The latter remains sidelined with a calf problem, but Morrissey should play some part this weekend after continuing his return to fitness with a cameo against Douglas Athletic last weekend.
With Conor Doyle now residing in Dubai and the versatile Johnny Myers also hampered by injury, Bass Sr has had to call upon the scutch of 16-year-olds that joined the club in the summer. All have acquitted themselves well, Adam Long the latest to mark his senior debut with a goal last week.
Peel’s season has certainly been a rollercoaster. A campaign that started with such promise after victory over Geordies in the Charity Shield has been hit by the unavailability of the club’s Douglas Road ground and key players Josh Kelly and Lee Gale contributing to five defeats.
Steve Falconer’s men have improved in recent weeks taking points off both St Mary’s and Corinthians, but will require an inspirational performance from fit-again striker Ash Webster if they are to advance.
The other game sees St Mary’s play Corinthians for the first time this campaign.
The loss of captain Louis Thornton in September has made the Whites’ qualification for the first time since 1980 even more special.
They will take on a Saints side that has lost two of its last six league games after setting the season’s early pace.
Corinthians on the other hand are unbeaten in eight including a stand-out victory over Geordies.
This should be a cracker of a match with both capable of winning to book their place in Boxing Day’s final.