Aberdeenshire and Stoneywood-Dyce face testing Eastern Premier games in Edinburgh tomorrow, followed by equally tricky matches in the Scottish Cup quarter–finals on Sunday.
However, they have the bonus of knowing wins in the latter would result in an all Granite City clash in the semi–finals later in the month.
Aberdeenshire look to have the most difficult task, visiting Edinburgh where they meet reigning champions Grange, before making the short trip across the capital to meet the in-form Carlton, the conquerors of the league champions in the last round of the competition, while racking up 305 runs away to Stoneywood-Dyce last week.
Shire captain Kenny Reid acknowledged the enormity of the weekend for his side, who are currently propping up the league.
He said: “This is like a free hit for us, nobody expects us to win these two games, allowing the team some freedom to go and build their game out there, especially when we bat.
“The fact that we have a weekend together in Edinburgh gives us the chance to bond.
“We need to find a way of winning, but it’s going to be tough against two of the top teams in the division.”
Shire will have opener Chris Venske back in the squad, but Ian Kirk is unavailable in an otherwise unchanged side from the one who lost out at Stewart’s Melville last weekend.
Stoneywood-Dyce meet Watsonians at Myreside, lifted by the fact of having already beaten the Edinburgh side at the People’s Park.
But they are in need of a morale-boosting win, not having won a game in the Eastern Premier since they beat Arbroath United on June 8.
Captain Jack Mitchell is confident his charges could get back to winning ways.
He said: “We have not enjoyed the best of luck of late, although we were beaten last week by Carlton.
“But we have taken the lessons out of the defeat in training.
“It’s important for us to have a good weekend.
“Watsonians, we know can be beaten, while Ferguslie in the Scottish Cup are an unknown, but with home advantage, I fancy us to go the last four.
“And who knows if Shire play well we could meet them next. Either way, it’s a great opportunity.’’
Mitchell stands by the team of last weekend for the trip to Edinburgh, but brings Jan Stander into the Sunday tie for the challenge of the Ferguslie, who sit in fourth place in the Western Premier.
In the Strathmore Union, Aberdeen’s two representatives meet at Mannofield where both sides will be keen to win for very different reasons.
The home side need a win to gain the safety of mid-table, while Gordonians will want to get their promotion bid back on track after slipping down to fifth place.
James Musgrave, the Mannofield captain, said: “We were disappointed not to get a result last week against Dundee High, but were thwarted by the rain.
“We’ll enjoy a crack at Gordonians, especially on our own ground. We bowled well last week, and I’ll be looking for more of the same on Saturday, and a few runs from our batsmen.”
His opposite number Mayank Bhandari was equally bullish and said: “We didn’t do ourselves justice last week, and will be looking for improvements, particularly from our high order.”
Gordonians will be without some regulars who will be at the Cricket World Cup at Headingley.
In the ACA Grades, the two big games in Grade 1 will be at Groats Road where Knight Riders meet Bon Accord, and the derby game at Kellands Park where Inverurie will host Ellon Gordon.