Nomads Panthers and Walton A, the top two teams in the Clacton & District League, have made it through to the final of this season’s Handicap Knock-Out Cup.

Both teams eliminated lower-division opposition, although the Panthers were on the edge of defeat before scraping past Third Division Walton E 5-4, the match going to deuce in the fifth in the final doubles of the evening!

The Panthers took an early 3-1 lead, which included close wins for both teams, Greg Green of the Panthers (-17) beating Maggie Earle (+3) 0-11, 11-7, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7 and Clive Allenby (+3) taking a point for Walton with an 8-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9 victory over Sam Hume (-10), Hume’s first singles defeat in the Cup this season.

But Walton fought back to take the next two games, Allenby and Earle (+3) beating Hume and Liam Harris (-13) in three-straight before Allenby (+3) defeated Greg Green (-10) in another five -setter.

The Panthers re-took the lead after game seven but Walton were not to be denied and bounced back for a third time, Earle (+3) defeating Harris (-17) in three-straight.

And so to the final game of the tie, a nail-biter which could’ve gone either way, but Hume and Green (-13) just got the edge on Allenby and Tony Sharman (+3) 9-11, 11-7, 0-11, 11-6, 14-12. It could hardly have been closer!

By contrast, Walton A looked as though they were going to have an easy night’s work in the second semi-final as their team of Gary Young, Daniel Young and Gavin Price raced into a 4-0 lead against Division Two Nomads Jaguars.

But the Jaguars fought back to take the next three matches. Daryl Lott and Andrew Cousins (+3) beat Gary Young and Gavin Price (-8) 9-11, 12-14, 11-7, 11-4, 11-5, and Lott (+2) inflicted a first Cup defeat this season on Daniel Young (-8), winning 8-11, 11-1, 11-7, 10-12, 11-0. And when Chris Petrou (+3) beat Gary Young (-10) 11-7, 11-7, 10-12, 11-7.

It looked as though a remarkable comeback could be on the cards but Price (pictured above), Walton’s most successful player on the night, stopped the Jaguars’ revival in its tracks and (on -11) defeated Cousins (+2) 12-10, 11-7, 3-11, 11-8 to end the Jaguars hopes of glory and see his side into the final with a 5-3 win.

So it looks like it’s going to be a cracking Cup Final between two teams of exceptionally talented players. The Final takes place on Tuesday 5th April at the Brotherhood Hall, with play starting at 7.30 pm. All spectators are welcome.

* In Division One of the League, Walton A’s good week continued when they beat Walton C 10-0, a victory which confirms they will finish as runners-up to Nomads Panthers. Gary Young, Daniel Young and Gavin Price all remained unbeaten, all the matches settled in three-straight.

But the result did little to ease the ‘C’ team’s relegation fears, especially as one of their nearest rivals, Nomads Lions, recorded a 6-4 win over Windsor Eagles. Adam Cuthbert’s good form continued with a hat-trick, there was one each for Jason Lloyd and Dave Miller, whilst Cuthbert and Lloyd took an important 11-2, 11-3, 6-11, 12-14, 12-10 doubles win against Gary Cattermole and Phil Smith. Cattermole and Smith each won two for the Eagles.

In Division Two, Windsor Buzzards were 9-1 winners against Windsor Kestrels, Dave Martin and Pete Bloomfield unbeaten. Kestrels’ skipper Graham Bunce won the first game of the evening 11-5, 11-7, 7-11, 9-11, 13-11 against Andy Cawley for his side’s sole point.

The result means Lawford need fifteen points from their last two matches to deny the Buzzards the runners-up spot, whilst the Kestrels still need four points from their final match – against Lawford – to avoid finishing in the second relegation place.

An all-Windsor clash in Division Three saw the Magpies beat the Merlins 6-4, an exact reverse of their early-season score. There were two each for Dave Sweetland and John Plummer but no-one could get the better of Sam Plummer who remained unbeaten for the Merlins, his closest match an 11-13, 12-10, 15-13, 11-9 win over Alan Rutledge.

Joe Plummer was involved in the two matches which went the distance, beating Rutledge 9-11, 11-7, 6-11, 15-13, 11-7 but going down 11-6, 11-5, 10-12, 9-11, 11-3 to Sweetland.

* The Closed Championships, sponsored by The Survey Initiative, is being staged over the weekend of 9th and 10th April at the Coastal Academy Sports Hall. The League is most grateful to Gary Cattermole for his generous sponsorship of this event.

Further information, including details of check-in 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 A 5 Nomads Jaguars 3
Nomads Panthers 5 Walton E 4
Division One
Walton C 0 Walton A 10
Nomads Lions 6 Windsor Eagles 4
Division Two
Windsor Buzzards 9 Windsor Kestrels 1
Division Three
Windsor Merlins 4 Windsor Magpies 6