Stoneywood Dyce captain Jamie King says the pressure is off his side when they make the trip to high-flying Forfarshire in the Eastern Premier League this weekend.
Forfarshire are third in the table and still in contention for the title, having won six of their eight matches so far this term, including a four-wicket victory at People’s Park in May.
With the Aberdeen outfit third from bottom, and making the trip to Dundee with a depleted squad, King sees this weekend’s match as an opportunity to test themselves against one of the league’s top sides before they play three successive home matches.
King said: “You could look at any single one of their players and see they are a threat.
“They are a team stacked full of talent, which they know and that is important as they are stacked full of confidence. That’s where you get your victories from.
“Away from home against these big teams like Carlton, Grange and Forfarshire, it’s just a chance for us to show up with nothing to lose – nobody expects us to win, so it’s a bit of a free hit.
“We have a lot of changes this week, so we will have some boys playing who potentially haven’t played at this level before.
“It will be a great experience for them to go up against a couple of Scotland players, as well as Michael Leask who we know well.
“It’s a great opportunity for anyone in the team to stick their hand up and cement their place going forward.”
King has been pleased with the batting improvements shown by his side in recent weeks, singling out Andrew Maclaren for particular praise.
He added: “At the beginning of the season we were bowling well, but our batting wasn’t quite there.
“In the last couple of games it looks like our batting has turned a corner. We scored 204 runs against Meigle, and we almost chased down the result against Arbroath in the T20 in midweek.
“We have some boys in good form, which has been great to see, especially Andrew Maclaren who has been among the runs in the last few games.
“He plays a really important role for us as a wicket-keeper and a batsman, and sometimes I think his batting has been pushed down in importance. But it’s great to see him get some runs, it’s really important for the team.
“We are giving ourselves a chance with the bat, which is a massive positive. There are plenty positives, but plenty to work for.”
King remains optimistic despite going into tomorrow’s game on the back of three defeats, having lost last weekend’s league double-header against Carlton and Meigle before suffering a 16-run loss to Arbroath in the T20 Cup on Tuesday.
King added: “We back ourselves to beat anyone at home, so to comfortably lose to Carlton was disappointing.
“To go to Meigle and set ourselves up with the bat was really pleasing, but then our bowling let the side down. It’s tough to lose three on the bounce. Nobody likes losing, but there are plenty more opportunities for us to get some more wins in the coming weeks.
“At the end of the day though, if you go back a year nobody was playing cricket at all.
“To have four games in less than a week, for amateur cricketers that is the most important thing.”