The battle for supremacy intensified this week as the top two teams in the Burnham & District Table Tennis League laid down strong victories to ensure the title dogfight will go all the way to the final weeks of the campaign.

Pre-season favourites Mapledene A emerged 8-2 victors against a dogged Cold Norton C trio, but the result belies the evenness of the competition with five matches going to a deciding leg with Mapledene winning three of these lengthy battles.

A ‘nine-dart’ hat-trick for Mapledene’s star signing Liam Squirrell which was matched in points tally by Babul McLeod but via a much more long and winding road as he just beat both Tim Cramphorn and Chris Buer in five sets and each time having to come from behind to steal the points.

Mapledene would have been hoping that unbeaten leaders Woodham A would struggle against third-placed Cold Norton B in the most mouthwatering contest of the week. However, after the first rounds of singles Cold Norton found themselves 0-6 down and facing the prospect of an unpalatable whitewash.

Cold Norton’s Eric Green and Dave Richardson rallied in the doubles to eventually take the first point for the beleaguered Norton trio. The second point followed soon after when Sam Lowman edged passed Chris Penrose 13-11 in the fifth leg having faced match point against just a few points earlier. That was it for Cold Norton as Woodham recorded a brilliant 8-2 overall victory with hat-tricks for Lee McHugh and Harry Chivers and a brace for Penrose. The title drive and 100% win rate is preserved for the dominant Woodham A.

Cold Norton A beat Mapledene B 8-2 with Duncan Taylor in unbeatable form. For Mapledene B it was the tricky pen-holder Colin Chatfield who demonstrated great form to win his team’s two points with notable singles victories over Charles Sweeny and Sam Lowman.

Lloyd Bennett-Smith was the start of the show as his Maldon A side emerged victorious over bottom placed Stow A. Bennett-Smith won all his singles in the 6-4 win and was well supported by lefty Jon Stokes with 2 wins and the two of them combined for the doubles bonus point.

The top three slots in Division 2 appear to be settled and all three contenders had wins this week to maintain the status quo. Leaders Woodham C ran out 8-2 winners over Cold Norton D. David Meah starred for the Woodham side with a confidence boosting hat-trick. Team-mates Adi Kamma and Chris Hancox both won two apiece, including the tense victory in the Hancox family derby where youth prevailed.

Maldon B, secure in the runner-up spot, won 9-1 against Maldon D. Maldon’s Chris Ravenhill did exceptionally well to defeat Dawn Baldry to avoid the whitewash. Maldon’s Colin Napper and Hamish Innes were unbeaten in all formats over the course of the evening to dominate the scoring.

Mapledene C had a tougher week of it as they scraped through 6-4 against Stow D having been held to 3-3 at the break in proceedings. Big Barrie Delf won all his singles for Mapledene and added the doubles to ensure his Mapledene side actually won the match. Stow’s Graham Naggs repeated his early season victory over Sue Body for another notable success and team point.

The most surprising scoreline of the week saw Woodham D trounce the strong Maldon C outfit. A shocking 9-1 victory where both Trevor Collin (pictured above) and Gus Heath went unbeaten in singles and combined for the doubles against top pairing Colin Barrell and Steve Aspland. Barrell’s sole victory over Alan Dadswell avoided the dreaded whitewash for Maldon.

The last pair of matches in the division were both local derbies as Blackwater A beat Blackwater B 8-2 with Merv Perriman the star act with an excellent hat-trick of wins, and Stow B repeating that 8-2 winning margin against two player stablemates Stow D. For the Stow B team both Peter Hance and Nicky Reece-Ford recorded ‘hat-tricks’ to secure the victory and local bragging rights.

Division 3 has unexpectedly opened up again following the shock loss by leaders St Lawrence A this week. Lowly Maldon F stunned the leaders with a comprehensive 8-2 victory that opens up the leaders to a final furlong challenge from the Blackwater Club thoroughbreds.

For Maldon both John Leavett and Ross Kirby won all their singles and of course they combined for the extra doubles point.

It was teamwork for Blackwater D as they just squeezed past club mates Blackwater C with a 6-4 scoreline courtesy of the five-set double victory from Chris Robison and Jacqui Treacy. Robison and the spritely Norman Hayes won two singles each for the victorious D side.

Struggling Woodham E fell to the recent good form merchants Maldon E. It was no surprise that the bulk of the Maldon spoils came from the trusty paddles of James Raymond and Arthur Shadforth in the 8-2 victory.