Despite some recent excellent form shown by Maldon B it looks like the Division 2 title of the Burnham & District Table Tennis League is heading its way back to South Woodham courtesy of Woodham C.

The clash of the top two teams in the second division did not disappoint. Maldon B started extremely strongly and were 4-2 ahead going into the doubles as Dawn Baldry and Hamish Innes took the unexpected scalps of Woodham C’s top players Graham Briggs and Chris Hancox respectively – both in long five-set encounters.

With their unbeaten record under threat the Woodham trio regrouped and showed great bouncebackability as they won the doubles and the next two singles at a canter to take a 5-4 lead going into the final match of the night.

Maldon’s Innes took a quick two-set advantage over Woodham’s Dave Meah before being pegged back in the third leg. Then in a much tighter fourth leg Innes held his nerve to take the point and secure a 5-5 draw against the champions-elect. Woodham’s first draw or loss all season but at least they didn’t drop ground on the chasing Maldon side.

With third-placed Mapledene C losing 6-4 away at Maldon C, and both Maldon B and Woodham C notching 10-0 victories in their second matches the 1-2-3 order now seems locked in for the duration. Maldon B’s whitewash victims were Stow B with hat-tricks for the regular trio of Colin Napper, Innes & Baldry.

For Woodham C it was the Stow C trio that fell unrewarded for their efforts – hat-tricks for Hancox, Briggs and Gus Heath this time. Heath (pictured above) has been a busy boy since returning from his recent bout of ill health – three matches this period and three hat-tricks, I think we all want some of his medicine!

Heath’s Woodham D side had two good wins, firstly beating a two-player Stow C team 9-1 with Malcolm Henstock and Trevor Collin joining Mr Heath on the hat-trick podium, and then a tighter 6-4 away victory over Cold Norton D where the doubles victory by Heath and Alan Dadswell secured the win.

Maldon C were the conquerors over Mapledene C. A 6-4 loss for Mapledene that probably rules them out of the honours list this season. In a game where everyone took at least one win it was the trusty twosome from Maldon of Colin Barrell and Steve Aspland that did the most damage with a brace of singles each and a combined doubles triumph to seal the overall victory.

It was a good period for Maldon C as earlier they had beaten Stow D 7-3 in a team effort including 2 wins from Garry Eames but none of them could get the better of the bandana wearing colossus that is Tim Pulham. Another hat-trick for Pulham that puts him in the 80% win rate category.

Pulham’s Stow D side struggled without their talisman in their other match as they succumbed to the tricky styles of the Blackwater A trio. No points for Stow as Blackwater ran riot with hat-tricks for Alan Scammell, Denis Balic, and Neil Freeman.

This was Blackwater’s second win of the period as they had earlier seen off the challenge of a resurgent Maldon D side. The match ended 6-4 to Blackwater with Scammell picking up two wins with Freeman the hat-trick hero this time round.

Maldon D are truly experiencing a resurgence at present and picked up only their second win of the season as they travelled the short distance to Blackwater B to record a 7-3 victory and close the gap in the relegation battle. Led by captain Shirley Carroll all the Maldon players took two singles with Chris Ravenhill and Marty Englander adding the doubles bonus point. However on the night none of the inspired Maldon trio could lay a glove on the fine form of Simon Quelch – a fine player and a fine hat-trick for the Blackwater Beast.

In their other match Blackwater had to fare without the benefits of Quelch and lost out to the regular trio from Stow B. The score probably doesn’t reflect the level of competitiveness but one thing’s for sure and that is that Stow’s Peter Hance remains in great form as he laid down yet another hat-trick and this time he combined with Dave Marsh for the extra doubles point too.

In the top division Woodham A opened up a gap this week as they won out 10-0 in their match and then saw their closest rivals all drop points. The Woodham A trio of Chris Penrose, Lee McHugh and Kaung Htet Paing recorded a straightforward and emphatic 10-0 scoreline over Cold Norton C.

Mapledene A were hoping to keep pace with Woodham as they hosted Maldon A and fielded a strong side. Maldon were struggling for players through injuries but at the last minute they were able to bring in Harrison Hill despite his recent kneecap injury and what a good decision that turned out to be for them.

Hill won all his singles for three points and this was bolstered by Colin Napper, playing up from the B side, who took an impressive 4 leg win over Babul McLeod. For Mapledene Gary Young and Steve Muth both won twice and combined for a good doubles victory over Hill and Napper.

Third-placed Cold Norton B lost out to a Simon Jacob inspired Mapledene B. Jacob took a hat-trick to provide a bedrock for his team and this was built upon with Colin Chatfield and Kieran Skeggs both beating Dave Richardson in close encounters before combining for the tightest of doubles victories for the overall 6-4 winning margin.

So Woodham A now have a 4 point cushion plus a game in hand over Mapledene B – but both teams have to face Cold Norton B, and then they meet in the final match of the season for what could be a humdinger of a week.

Elsewhere in Division 1 current champions Fambridge had two draws. Keith Adams was their star player in their first match where they were only able to field a two-man team – Adams won all three of his matches but Mapledene B’s Simon Jacob and Kieran Skeggs both defeated Mark Stones.

The tables were turned in their next encounter as Fambridge faced a two-man Cold Norton A side. This time none of the Fambridge trio could get the better of Cold Norton’s Kevin Read, and Read ended his perfect evening with the extra doubles point with partner Charles Sweeny.

A very different Cold Norton A side had earlier beaten Stow Maries A 6-4 with a hat-trick of wins for the daring play of Matt Stringer. For Stow it was Richard Storey doing the most damage with two wins over Steve Maltby and Rob Harris.

The final match of the week saw a real battle of styles as Woodham B hosted Cold Norton C – shocks galore in this one! Play got off to an expected start as Woodham’s best player Sanjay Saptarshi stormed to a two-leg lead over Chris Buer, and at 10-8 and two match points in a tighter third leg it looked over. But Buer was having none of it and rattled off the next four points to peg back Saptarshi.

Buer’s consistency and accuracy with the pimples was upsetting the rhythm of the Saptarshi game but we once again arrived at 10-8 and two further match points – but these came and went as did the fifth match point at 11-10 before Buer evened it up at 2-2. The final leg saw Buer take control and he finished off his prey 11-7 for an amazing and eventful victory.

But this was just a sign of things to come. In the second match of the evening Cold Norton’s Tim Cramphorn took a comfortable 2-1 lead over Trevor Collin and looked set for victory but Collin fought back and nicked the fourth leg 12-10. In the deciding leg Cramphorn seemed to be in control of the early exchanges but wasn’t able to finish off his opponent and Collin kept coming back and eventually won out 11-9 to even out the shock factor from the first match.

Cold Norton’s hard hitting Arron Chandler seem to have everything under control as he took a quick 2-0 lead over Eamonn Hall. Hall changed styles in leg three and was starting to win the tactical battles and that saw him peg back the lead to just one leg.

The fourth leg was much tighter as Chandler adopted a more defensive approach and encouraged Hall to open up – this seemed to be working but at 9-6 down Hall rattled off four successive points to upset his opponent’s apple cart and eventually won out the leg 12-10. With Chandler’s apples all over the place Hall took control of the decider and won out 11-6 for an even bigger shock victory than the earlier turnovers.

So, three matches in and the clock was already beyond 9pm. 3-3 at the break then Hall and Saptarshi came from behind in the doubles to win in another long five-setter. Chandler then did his own comeback trick as he went down 2-0 to the impressive Collin before having a polite word with himself and controlling his play for an eventual five-set victory.

So 4-4 going into the final games. Hall then upset the bookies once again with an impressive four-leg victory over the unbeaten Buer to secure his first ever Division 1 ‘player of the match’ award, and Saptarshi brought home the overall victory in the final match. Some night!

St Lawrence remain Champions-in-waiting in Division 3 with two solid victories to cement their No 1. First off they overwhelmed a Woodham E side with a straightforward 9-1 victory. Hat-tricks for Steve King and Mike Pratley, with Woodham’s Diane King saving the whitewash with an excellent 3-0 win over Roy Hutchins.

St Lawrence encountered a bit more resistance in their next match when they welcomed Blackwater E into their den. King racked up his second hat-trick with another royal performance. Pratley won two but just fell short against the excellent stroke play of Peter Davenport. Davenport also beat Mick Robinson for his two-point total and Blackwater’s David Sage chipped in with a comeback five-set victory over Mick Robinson. That was all the points scoring for Blackwater as St Lawrence ran out 7-3 winners.

Maldon E were unbeaten over the period but couldn’t manage a win either. Firstly they drew with Blackwater D where both James Raymond and Arthur Shadforth recorded two wins apiece plus the doubles. For Blackwater Chris Rolison was in fine fettle as he went unbeaten throughout the singles play.

Not much changed when Blackwater C came a-knocking later in the week – another stalemate, and yes you guessed it both James Raymond and Arthur Shadforth recorded two wins apiece plus combined again for the doubles. Their nemesis this match was Blackwater’s northern import Mike Burton who scored a hat-trick and was duly ignored for the doubles match.

Maldon F had a couple of tough matches losing to both Blackwater E and then Blackwater D. That man Peter Davenport was at it again for Blackater E as he scored a hat-trick for his team and was ably supported by Ron Tam with two wins. To secure the 6-4 victory Tam and Davenport did the doubles dance and came out on top in four sets.

Chris Rolison hit his second hat-trick of the week as Blackwater D won 8-2 over Maldon F in a result that makes them favourite for the runner-up spot. Blackwater’s Dave Smith and Jacquie Treacy both won two but neither could match the growing skills of Ross Kirby who took two points for his Maldon side.

James Raymond and Arthur Shadforth – the Maldon E stalwarts