IT is win or bust time for Highland tomorrow as they face promotion rivals Dumfries Saints in the bid to get out of National Three.
Head coach Dave Carson admitted if his side do not come away with a win in the Borders, they can pretty much forget getting promoted this season.
Patchy form and teams around them winning has seen Highland drop to third, albeit with a game in hand three of the four teams above them.
However, with Dumfries, currently in third, to come tomorrow and fourth-placed Glasgow Accies on the road next month, time is of the essence if the Inverness side are to realise their promotion hopes.
“If we don’t come away with a win that will be it for this season, I imagine,” said Carson. “It’s going to be like that from now until the end of the season.
“We’ve been over everything on video and worked on where we made mistakes last time (against Dumfries). But I know when everyone performs and does their jobs, things will click into place. The boys are focused.”
Last weekend’s postponement against Dalziel was an opportunity missed for Carson as he would have preferred to have his squad to get some needed game time with a home win before such a big fixture.
As it is the extra weekend off does mean several players have had more time to recover from injuries.
Skipper Andrew Findlater comes back in at centre and joins Rory Cross who also comes in and this will make a very formidable midfield pairing.
“I’m quite excited about it,” added Carson. “I’ve seen the damage he can do from number eight or in the back row, but now he’s got space to run at their backs.
“We’re taking a gamble but after previous results, it’s one we have to take.”
The rest of the squad is along familiar lines with Eamon Guinan expected to be fit to start at number eight. Kevin Brown and Jonny Milton remain out, while Paddy Bryden has been banned for six weeks after being cited for foul play in the defeat to RHC last month.
While understandably disappointed with that outcome, Carson still has a very strong squad at his disposal.
“We’ve got the best 19 players at Highland going down there and there’s no more we can do,” he said. “With Eamon, Stuart MacDonald and Oscar Baird in the back row, we look fantastic in that department.”
The second XV have also had a stop-start couple of weeks and look good for a home match against Aberdeen Grammar second XV in a battle to avoid the wooden spoon. The Aberdeen side have a variable squad which has never been badly beaten and could claim to have been unlucky on numerous occasions. This should be a warning for Highland, who will need to put in a strong performance and they will have a strong side available.
In Division Three North Inverness Craig Dunain really need to get some games played after several postponements.
They may have a few games in hand but with title rivals having played their games and have the points on the board the task to catch up becomes that bit tougher.
This Saturday they welcome Fraserburgh to the Bught Park and it will be an ideal opportunity to kick on.
Craig Dunain’s women’s side continues to go great guns and tops the North League by three points. Last weekend they thumped Banff 67-14 and face nearest challengers Shetland tomorrow at Bught Park.
Junior action sees Highland’s under-18’s try again to get their Caledonia Cup fixture away to Caithness played on Saturday. On Sunday the under-16s travel to play Orkney and the under-15s travel to Deeside in their Cup competitions.