The four teams struggling at the bottom of Division One of the Clacton & District League were in opposition this week and it was Windsor Hawks and Nomads Lions who emerged the happiest.
The Hawks, the only team in the League without a win to their name, had most to smile out, breaking their duck at a most appropriate time by notching up a 7-3 victory over a Walton C team fielding a reserve. There were three for Felipe Rodriguez (picture above – picture by Roger Hance), two for John Barton and one for Ian Fielder.
But it was a tight match with the two teams sharing the four matches which went the distance. Rodriguez beat Paul Newbould 11-4 in the fifth and Barton beat John Marshall 11-5 in the fifth whilst, for Walton, Newbould defeated Barton 11-5 in the decider and Marshall defeated Fielder 11-8 in the decider.
The Hawks are now six points clear of their nearest rivals and should be able to breathe more easily but only one point covers the remaining three teams in the relegation mix after the Lions enjoyed a vital 8-2 victory over Walton D.
Adam Cuthbert and Jason Lloyd stayed unbeaten for the Lions, Lloyd’s first maximum of the season including an 11-5 in the fifth win over Mark Ratcliffe. Adam Wilkin won one and went close with Paul Meikle before going down 13-11 in the decider.
So Walton D, with only one match left – this a daunting task against Nomads Panthers – have 43 points whilst the Lions and Walton C sit just one point ahead on 44 points, the Lions having a marginally-easier run-in with matches against the Hawks and Eagles whilst Walton C have to play Walton A and Brotherhood A.
At the other end of the table, the big match between the two leading Walton sides finished 9-1 in favour of the ‘A’ team over the ‘B’ team, a victory which almost – although not quite – ensures Walton A the runners-up spot. Daniel Young and Gary Young led the way with unbeaten trebles, with Gavin Price winning two. Kevin James gained the ‘B’ team’s point and took Gary Young close before going down 11-4 in the fifth.
Windsor Eagles produced a comprehensive 9-1 win over a weakened Brotherhood A. There were hat-tricks for Mel Rampton and Paul Hume, and two for Phil Smith. In the closest match of the evening, Rampton and Hume combined to take the doubles 11-7 in the fifth against Kevin Gowlett and Martin Edwards. Gowlett lost in five to Hume but defeated Smith for Brotherhood’s consolation point.
In Division Two, runaway leaders Brotherhood B were 10-0 winners over Windsor Kestrels, John Owen, Martin Scarfe and Paul Alden all staying unbeaten. The doubles proved the tightest match, Owen and Scarfe beating Graham Bunce and Debra Found 3-2 (8-11, 11-6, 9-11, 13-11, 11-5), whilst Bunce made Owen fight hard before the Brotherhood player took their individual match 3-0 (20-18, 11-9, 14-12).
But the battle for the runners-up spot is going down to the wire with three teams, Brotherhood C, Windsor Buzzards and Lawford, still in with a chance of honours.
Brotherhood C lost ground against their rivals after being held to a draw by Windsor Harriers. Barry Allen took his maximum for Brotherhood with Mark Salter and Tricia Salter, a 3-2 (7-11, 8-11, 14-12, 11-8, 11-3) winner over Jenny Higgins, taking a point each. Ferdy Rodriguez’s two for the Harriers included a surprise win in three-straight against Mark Salter.
However, Dave Martin, Andy Crawley and Pete Bloomfield of Windsor Buzzards are looking good after their 10-0 victory over Nomads Bobcats. Only two of the matches were extended to a fourth set.
Lawford are also still in with a shout and they also won 10-0, this against Brotherhood D, Richard Spence, Charlie Denholm and Paul Phelan unbeaten. But it was a hard-fought encounter, with Phelan, in his first match of the season deputising for skipper Ian Sherwood, edging past Mark Beckham 11-9 in the decider, and Spence just getting the better of Paul Metcalf, 11-5 in the decider, in the final match of the evening.
So Brotherhood C, who’ve finished their season, have 114 points, five points ahead of the Buzzards who have one match left against Windsor Kestrels, whilst Lawford on 103 points have two matches to play, one against the Kestrels but the other against champions Brotherhood B who, earlier in the season, defeated them 10-0.
At the bottom, the battling Bobcats are isolated but Brotherhood E completed their programme with a 7-3 defeat at the hands of Nomads Jaguars, a result which does little to help them in the relegation battle. To make things worse, they could only field two players which resulted in a net gain of just one point from the match.
It leaves Brotherhood E on 56 points, four points ahead of the Kestrels on 52 points. It means the Kestrels need five points from their two remaining matches, tough ties against Lawford and the Buzzards, to better Brotherhood E and thus avoid finishing in the second relegation spot.
Top met bottom in Division Three and Walton E were 8-2 winners against Nomads Lynx. Clive Allenby remained unbeaten, with Tony Sharman and Lynette Sparks taking a couple each. Dominic Joannou won the two points for the Lynx. Walton now need just five points from their final match against Windsor Robins to snatch the title from long-time leaders Windsor Penguins.
John Plummer was Windsor Magpies’ most successful player in his side’s match against Nomads Leopards, the Magpies’ skipper notching up only his second treble of the season in the 8-2 victory. There were a couple each for Alan Rutledge and Dave Sweetland, Sweetland beating Dave Wright 3-2 (9-11, 11-8, 12-10, 9-11, 11-8) in the closest match of the contest. Bob Jillins won two for the Leopards.
Six of the League’s talented juniors were on show as Brotherhood F edged past Windsor Merlins 6-4. Ben Bryden was the Brotherhood star, remaining unbeaten, whilst Alex Marsh and Andrey Pavlov took one each, with Bryden and Marsh combining to take a crucial doubles. Sam Plummer and Joe Plummer each took two for the Merlins.
Finally, Nomads Ocelots beat Windsor Robins 6-4, despite three from Neil Chegwidden, who combined with Mick Coker to win the doubles 3-2 (6-11, 11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 11-1) against John Magill and Hazel Blanche.
* Next week sees the semi-finals of the Handicap Knock-Out Cup, with Nomads Panthers facing Walton E, and Walton A hosting Nomads Jaguars. The final will be played on Tuesday 5th April at the Brotherhood Hall.
* Entries have now closed for the Closed Championships, sponsored by The Survey Initiative, courtesy of Gary Cattermole. The tournament is being staged over the weekend of 9th and 10th April at the Coastal Academy Sports Hall.
Further information, including details of start times, will be sent to all entrants by 4th April. Any competitor who has not received this information by that date should contact Peter White (Tel: 01255 425292).
Walton D 2 Nomads Lions 8
Windsor Hawks 7 Walton C 3
Brotherhood A 1 Windsor Eagles 9
Walton B 1 Walton A 9
Brotherhood B 10 Windsor Kestrels 0
Lawford 10 Brotherhood D 0
Nomads Bobcats 0 Windsor Buzzards 10
Brotherhood C 5 Windsor Harriers 5
Nomads Jaguars 7 Brotherhood E 3
Windsor Robins 4 Nomads Ocelots 6
Windsor Magpies 8 Nomads Leopards 2
Brotherhood F 6 Windsor Merlins 4
Nomads Lynx 2 Walton E 8