Aberdeenshire have turned to their second team for inspiration tomorrow in a bid to return to winning ways at home to Arbroath United.
The Angus side were last weekend’s shock troops as they beat Eastern Premier leaders Forfarshire by one run.
Shire captain Kenny Reid admitted it was a “must-win” game and explained his decision to call on the experienced Willie Anderson and Mannofield captain James Musgrave, both of whom have been among the runs in the Strathmore Union.
Skipper Reid said: “These guys are top-order batsmen who can dig in when it matters, something our generally young team have not been able to do so far.
“Nothing has clicked for us, but this is an opportunity we cannot afford to waste.”
Anderson is likely to open with his captain, while Musgrave, twice a century maker this season, is in line for the first wicket down slot, although Ian Kirk is available, making for a potentially strong home batting line-up.
Across the city at the People’s Park, Jack Mitchell has no such batting issues for the visit to Stoneywood-Dyce of Stewart’s Melville, who are just above Shire in the battle to avoid the drop.
However, he loses the services of Shaun Coetzer who fractured a finger in the away win at Watsonians last weekend.
Top order batsman Liam Ferguson and wicketkeeper Andrew McLaren are also unavailable.
But such is the depth of talent in the ranks that the replacements, including teenager Stuart Lister, are not likely to weaken a side who, rather like the New Zealand international team, thrive on supporting each other.
“We may not be the best team in the best club league in Scotland, but when we work together, as we have been doing in our first season back in the big time, we can beat anyone,” said Mitchell, who may take the gloves in the absence of McLaren.
Their Edinburgh opponents will also have targeted this game having won the corresponding fixture earlier in the season.
In the Strathmore Union, Gordonians, having lost their last three games, are now out of the promotion race. But according to captain Mayank Bhandari they will still be highly competitive when they take on second-placed Strathmore.
“It’s a great chance to get our game back in order against one of the top teams in the league,” he said.
Mannofield, despite losing their skipper to Shire, will field a strong team led by David Hambledon for the trip to Arbroath.
In the race to land the ACA Grade 1 title, Aberdeen Grammar, the leaders, take on Bon Accord, last season’s champions – who have fought back from a poor start to their campaign.
They now sit in third place just behind Inverurie who have still to come to the Links to play the Bons. Inverurie look to have the straightforward task of taking on winless Mannofield.
Meanwhile, Crescent should have the measure of Gordonians, another of the league’s strugglers at the Links.
Cults will be chasing a double against Ellon Gordon when the two meet at the Gordon Park.
There is a middle-of-the-table clash at Groats Road where Knight Riders host Stoneywood-Dyce.
In Grade 2, leaders Siyapa are home to 2nd Aberdeen Grammar, while the battle of the day in the division could be at Burnettt Park where Banchory and 2nd Knight Riders, the two bottom sides, meet.
Portcullis, the Grade 3 leaders, are at Countesswells where they meet 2nd Gordonians.