GREENOCK Wanderers make the trip to the east coast tomorrow where title challengers Musselburgh lie in wait as the BT National League Second Division begins to veer towards its climax.

The top four of Falkirk, Howe of Fife, Hamilton and Musselburgh all have a realistic chance of achieving one of the two promotion spots, with Howe and Hamilton probably the current favourites to go on and do so.

Burgh have enjoyed a super season so far and have won 11 and drawn one of their 15 matches to date. They have only been beaten by fellow promotion hopefuls Howe, Hamilton and Falkirk — who edged them out last weekend 26-16.

They are a very capable side and produced an outstanding performance at Fort Matilda last October when they thrashed Wanderers 60-7.

It was arguably the best display of rugby seen at the Octavia Terrace ground this season and the East Lothian outfit showcased their considerable talents with a fine blend of aggression and silky skills that even drew ripples of applause from the normally partisan home support.

To say tomorrow’s fixture is another difficult tie for Wanderers would be a dramatic understatement, as the hosts will have set themselves the objective of remaining in the title race by securing the try-scoring bonus point victory and by piling on as many points as possible.

Successful sides set themselves targets and the Greenock men can rest assured that if the hosts scored 60 points at Fort Matilda then they will want to improve on that total on home soil.

Musselburgh are a fantastic community-based rugby organisation full of traditional values and loyal club spirit — but Stoneyhill can be an inhospitable venue for visiting sides with a normally vociferous home support cheering on their favourites and a cold, withering wind blowing the length of the pitch from the not too distant Firth of Forth. It is not a venue for the faint-hearted or weak willed and Wanderers will have to bring their top game both mentally and physically to the east coast tomorrow if they are to realistically test their opponents.

Skipper Murray McDonald will once more be vital to Wanderers’ chances of success as he is the current leader and the players look to him to set the example.

Senior players like Matt Gray, Ally Abernethy and Andy McDougall will also front up and if the hoops can generate some of the spirit that was so evident in their match at Hamilton recently then there is the potential for upset.

Last weekend Wanderers were blown away in the opening quarter by a very good Aberdeenshire side and there is no shame in acknowledging that there is currently a vast gulf in class and quality between the teams at the top and bottom end of the table.

The fifth-placed Dons were 33 points up when last Saturday’s match was abandoned after just 48 minutes due to an injury to referee Damien Timpson. It would be pointless to speculate as to what the final tally might have been but in fairness the Octavia Terrace men did batten down the hatches and show signs of improvement after the initial onslaught.

Greenock are to be commended for their efforts this season, despite sustaining some heavy defeats, and the fact that they are favourites to survive the relegation battle indicates that they deserve to remain in the division and start with a clean slate next September.

The more immediate business though is tomorrow’s test and head coach Graham Knox has understandably picked his strongest available squad.

With nothing to lose Wanderers may as well go out and have a go at their more fancied opponents in the hope of knocking them out of their stride and by doing so create the uncertainty that may impact on the home team’s self-belief. Although clear underdogs, the locals have a chance of success if they click and produce some of the form they are capable of.

The Hamilton performance a fortnight ago was the high water mark this season in terms of mental strength, effort and commitment and what that proved is that irrespective of the class and quality of the opposition, a battling and fighting attitude will carry the less fancied side a long way and keep them in contention throughout.

Vice-president Stevie Anderson, below, said: “We take each game as it comes and we are building a great team spirit with the current squad.

“A positive and competitive attitude and display is the very least we now expect.

“Building the current side is a work in progress and our objective is to secure our league status this term then re-group and mount a serious challenge next season.

“Every game we play against teams at the top end of the division is more experience for our younger players and it will stand them in good stead for future campaigns.” Tomorrow’s game will be a real challenge for the Fort Matilda men and the reality is that the hosts should be too hot to handle.

However success comes in many guises and a strong and gutsy performance from Wanderers would augur well and indicate that their team building plans are currently on the right track.

GREENOCK Wanderers 2nd XV host GHA at Fort Matilda tomorrow. Kick-off is at 2pm.

Wanderers are sponsored by Texas Instruments.