There are close matches, very close matches and very, very close matches – and the Division Three clash in the Clacton League between Windsor Magpies and Walton E certainly fell into the very, very close category.

The final score was 8-2 to the Magpies but the scoreline failed to tell the whole story, with no less than seven of the individual matches going the distance.

Magpies’ skipper John Plummer had 11-8 in the fifth wins against both Maggie Earle and Lynette Sparks, whilst Alan Rutledge’s hat-trick included an 11-6 in the fifth victory over Sparks and an 11-8 in the fifth victory against Adrian Sexton. Dave Sweetland won the Magpies’ fifth five-setter, beating Earle 11-6 in the decider.

Walton managed to take just two of the full-distance matches, Sparks beating Sweetland 11-5 in the decider and then, in her fourth full-distance match of the evening, partnering Earle to take the doubles 11-6 in the decider against Plummer and Sweetland.

With seven matches going to five, two settled in four and just one settled in three-straight, it was – despite the final scoreline – one of the most tightly-fought matches in the League for many seasons.  

In their second match of the week, the Magpies defeated Nomads Bobcats by a similar 8-2 score, although this time with a little more to spare. On this occasion it was Sweetland who stayed unbeaten, with Rutledge and Plummer winning a pair apiece. Mike Vilka took the two points for the Bobcats.

But Walton suffered a second defeat of the week in their second fixture, a 10-0 reverse at the hands of the fast-improving Nomads Leopards. Dominic Joannou, Bob Jillins and Stu Wilkinson all recorded trebles, Wilkinson’s 11-5 in the fifth win against Maggie Earle the only match which went the distance. Perhaps Walton’s energy levels had run out?

Another 8-2 result in this Division saw Brotherhood E defeat Brotherhood F, Duncan Dunne and Tony Edmonds taking maximum points. Lucy Carvell and JJ Barry took a point each for the ‘F’ team and, although Tom Bryden ended pointless, he played well before losing 11-4 in the fifth to Dunne.

Isabel Barton was the player of the match as Windsor Harriers notched up a second 10-0 win in as many weeks, this time over Nomads Lynx. Only one individual match went beyond a third set, Ian Gwillim testing Jenny Higgins before Higgins took it 3-1 (11-2, 11-8, 5-11, 11-8).

In Division One everyone picked up at least a point as Nomads Panthers beat Walton A 7-3. Greg Green, making his first appearance of the season, took three, John Hatley two and Gill Locke one. Derek Willis, Kevin James and David Binns each took a point for Walton, James beating Hatley 11-9 in the decider but narrowly losing 12-10 in the decider to Locke, Binns edging out Locke 11-9 in the fifth.

Mark Gale was the best player on show as Walton C and Nomads Lions shared the spoils in the Division’s first drawn match of the season. Two of Gale’s wins were in five, 11-3 in the decider against Martyn Green and 11-9 in the decider against Jason Lloyd. However, the closest match of the evening was Mark Ratcliffe’s 3-2 (7-11, 12-10, 6-11, 13-11, 12-10) victory over Jason Lloyd. Green and Ethan Lloyd picked up a couple of wins each for the Lions.

Daniel Young stayed unbeaten, whilst there were two for John Barton and one for Ian Fielder, as the all-Windsor clash ended 6-4 in favour of the Hawks against the Buzzards. But the Buzzards will feel a degree of satisfaction in producing their best performance of the season, Andy Cawley winning two, Pete Bloomfield one, with the pair sharing an excellent 11-8 in the fifth doubles win against Young and Fielder.

Brotherhood A were 9-1 winners against a Windsor Eagles’ side fielding a reserve, John Cleasby, Russell Hillier and Gary Young all remaining unbeaten. Phil Smith and John Hobson picked up a consolation point with an unexpected 11-6 in the decider doubles win against Cleasby and Hillier. Smith lost two close singles matches, 11-6 in the fifth to Hillier and 14-12 in the fifth to Cleasby.

In Division Two Brotherhood D proved their season’s start was no flash in the pan by defeating Lawford 8-2. Simon Smith-Daye won his three, whilst there were two each for Kevin Pryor and Joe Plummer. Richard Spence was Lawford’s best player, taking two points for the losers.

Trebles for Dave Miller and Colin Webber, with a couple from John Hockley, saw Nomads Tigers to a 9-1 win over Windsor Kestrels who, even at this early stage of the season, are beginning to look isolated at the bottom. Debra Found took the Kestrels’ consolation point.

* Details of the draw and fixtures for the Group stages of the Handicap Cup competition should be with Team Secretaries by 18th November.