Netts A’s hopes of retaining their Braintree Table Tennis League title are receding fast after another surprise defeat has cast them further adrift at the top.

With both James Hicks and Andy Holmes unavailable, Netts called on Fred Evans, who has played very little this season, and third division player Charles Calisin for the match against Rayne C.

Neither was disgraced – they both stretched Ian Whiteside to five games and Calisin and Paul Davison lost out in the doubles only at 11-9 in the fifth game – but in the end it was only Davison’s three wins that did not finish in the debit column.

Rayne A meanwhile benefited from a walkover against Black Notley A, not the ideal way to stretch their lead at the top to eight points but as they won the first meeting between the two teams 10-0 it may have made little difference.

Rayne C’s seven points take them up to equal third place with Liberal B, who were held to a draw by their A team.

Brandon Crouchman’s three wins for the A team took him to 18 out of 18, and he has yet to be stretched to a fifth game.

Sudbury Nomads stay in fifth place after a 9-1 win over Liberal C, who had David Razzell’s win over Richard Kemp to thank for avoiding a nil return.

Notley B could only field two players against Rayne B, but that was enough for a 6-4 win with three from Kaung Htet Paing and two from Chris Parr.

Having seen their lead in division two cut to four points the previous week, Netts B claimed a point back after a 7-3 win over their own C team while second-placed Rayne D beat Notley F 6-4. Jon Hill and Joe Meleschko were unbeaten for Netts and Dave Moles for Rayne.

Notley D crept to within one point of second place with a 9-1 win over Rayne F while Rayne E’s Adi Kamma held up Sudbury Wanderers’ progress by taking his three singles as the teams shared the points.

Notley C’s 9-1 win over their own E team may seem the natural order of things, but it was the E team who won the first meeting between the two.  Gordon Fairchild and Dave Parker were unbeaten this time.

In division three, Netts D retained the five-point gap to Great Yeldham at the top as both teams won 7-3.

Netts beat Rayne G while Great Yeldham overcame fellow newcomers Sudbury Strollers, a match in which Lorraine Burgess tasted defeat for only the third time in nine matches.  Geoff Barrett got the better of her 11-6 in the fifth game.

Third-placed Notley G were surprisingly held to a draw by their own H team, despite three wins from Mel Cooch, while John Barrett took his total to 14 wins out of 15 in winning his three in Finchingfield’s 6-4 defeat by Notley I.