Former champions Liberal A have at last lifted themselves off the bottom of division one of the Braintree Table Tennis League with their most important win of the season.

In what could be regarded as a relegation 20-pointer, they overcame Black Notley A, their main rivals for the drop, by 9-1.

The visitors were only able to field two players and with Brandon Crouchman and Scott Dowsett in tandem again for Liberal, the outcome was in little doubt, only the scoreline.

Steve Kerns prevented the whitewash with a win over Zach Harrington and was involved in the closest set of the evening when he just missed out against Dowsett 3-2 (11-9, 5-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-6).

At the top, Netts A moved to within a gnat’s whisker of the title with a 7-3 win over Rayne B while chasing Rayne A beat Liberal B 6-4.

James Hicks won his three singles for the seventh time in succession for Netts A.

For Liberal B, Ashley Skeggs was at the top of his rollercoaster form. After beating Paul Davison two weeks ago, he slumped to three straight-games defeats in his next match against Rayne B before snapping back into action against Rayne A with three excellent wins. Adam Buxton, Steve Pennell and John Andrews do not surrender easily.

By contrast with the top division, the second tier produced some predictable results. Already promoted Sudbury Nomads won 10-0 and already relegated Notley F lost 8-2.

Nomads’ win came against Notley D, Notley F’s defeat against their own E team, where Lawrence Grantham picked up two wins for the losers and Alan Billing three for the E team.

In the middle, Rayne C rose above Notley C by beating Rayne D 6-4 while Notley lost 7-3 to Netts C. Dean Andrews won his three singles for Rayne D as did Ben Page for Netts C, although he was stretched to 13-11 in the fifth game by Rev Matthews.

The big game in division three ended with five points each, a result that will suit Sudbury Wanderers more than Rayne E, who remain ten points behind their rivals with only one match in hand.

After his hiccup against Kierlan Richards the previous week, Oliver Hicks was back to form. His three wins included a straight games success against Ian Shrubsole, who had taken him to deuce in the fifth in their last meeting.

This week it was Richards’ turn to suffer a surprise defeat. With only one reverse – to Jim Davy – in his 18 sets so far, Richards was found wanting by Adam Pitt in Netts D’s 6-4 win over Rayne F. Pitt triumphed 3-2 (7-11, 13-15, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8).

Netts E had an 8-2 win over Rayne G, where Jimmy Calisin was unbeaten, while Notley’s I team jumped above their H team by beating them 9-1. Peter Game’s win over Tony Brown was the one that got away.