Liam Pitchford’s double clinched a 3-2 victory for England over Serbia at the European Championships, but only after Sam Walker had saved three match points in the fourth match.
Pitchford starteed with a four-game win over Marko Jevtovic, but Paul Drinkhall’s 3-0 defeat to Zsolt Peto made it 1-1, and Serbia led when Tom Jarvis saw a 2-0 advantage evaporate as Dimitrije Levajac clawed back the deficit to win 3-2.
Walker’s match against Jevtovic swung back and forth with both leading before the match went to a decider. Walker overcame an early deficit to get back into the game, but at 10-7 down, England were looking at defeat.
However, Walker saved those three match points and took his run to five consecutive points to claim a 12-10 triumph in that decider and set up Pitchford to bring the result home – which he duly did in three against Peto.
England now face Slovakia – who beat Serbia 3-1 earlier in the competition – at 11am UK time tomorrow to decide who wins the group and advances to the quarter-finals.
England 3 Serbia 2
Liam Pitchford bt Marko Jevtovic 3-1 (11-6, 11-2, 7-11, 11-9)
Zsolt Peto bt Paul Drinkhall 3-0 (11-8, 11-8, 11-4)
Dimitrije Levajac bt Tom Jarvis 3-2 (8-11, 6-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-3)
Sam Walker bt Jevtovic 3-2 (5-11, 11-7, 11-7, 4-11, 12-10)
Pitchford bt Peto 3-0 (11-9, 12-10, 11-5)