Brampton v Stamford Green Man
This was the last game of the first half of the season and was a league and cup double header. Stamford, unbeaten so far, were confident going into the match.
Barker brothers on first with Simon playing Rhys Power. A clash of the captains. After a steady start it soon became apparent that Simon was too strong for Rhys. A good line and length from Simon put Rhys under too much pressure at the back of the court and allowed him a comfortable win 9-5, 9-0, 9-2 (and the revered ice cream).
Richard was on next door against Martin Cadoe. Richard, still struggling to find the devastating form seen earlier in the season, was still too strong for Martin and kept control of the game forcing Martin into the corners to produce the errors. Another comfortable win 9-3, 9-7, 9-4.
Mark Smith was on next against Roy Pickerill. Roy’s big hitting was soon to put Mark under pressure as he struggled to find his normal rhythm. Mark made an unusual number of errors and Roy took full advantage taking the first 9-5. The second was just as fast and furious and was nip and tuck all the way but this time Mark just doing enough to steal it 10-8. The third saw some excellent drops from Roy and more unforced errors from Mark. Mark was becoming frustrated with his game now the third slipped from his grasp 9-7. The fourth started evenly but then Roy started to edge away until he suddenly “hit the wall” and really started to feel the pace. Mark clawed his way back to 8-8 and Roy’s legs on autopilot called 1 point. A last big effort from Roy saw him steal the game 9-8 to take the match 3-1. Brampton were fighting back!
Jon Oakley looked set for a tough match against John Palin – a wily and fit player. Jon 0, who seems to play better every week (except where women are involved), started well, immediately getting into his stride and moving well around the court. Tight driving and an excellent short game put John P under immense pressure and was unable to dominate any of the points losing the first 9-3. The second went the same with Jon O giving nothing away as he cruised to 9-0 in the second. Jon P stepped the pace up in third and finally started to put Jon O under pressure as he failed to up the pace with him. A closely fought third until Jon O finally regained control to take it 10-8 and the tie 3-0.
Last on was Paul York playing Paul Burkett. The first saw some draining rallies, as PB tactics were to work Yorkie as much as possible. Some good kill shots gave Yorkie a slight edge as he nicked the first 10-9. PB tightened up in the second and hit consistently to a good length and width. Mixing up his game to work Yorkie whenever possible proved a good tactic as errors from Yorkie started to creep in giving the second to PB 9-6. The same pattern followed in the third with Yorkie struggling to stay with the pace. PB in full control and took the third 9-4. After a stiff talking too from each member of the team during the break Yorkie, bamboozled with advice, tips and derision from the team came out fighting. A big effort in the fourth saw some excellent rallies. Very steady squash from PB, literally making no unforced errors, kept Yorkie working hard. Neck and neck to the end, Yorkie finally pinched the game 10-9 to level it 2-2. Concern from the team during the break as Yorkie was audibly heard to be breathing out of both orifices (one of which was not on his face). Our fears were confirmed as Yorkie turned to Mr Jelly legs. After much screeching of self-criticism from Yorkie (“lazy git”, “use your *&%ing legs” and other expletives) PB finally strolled through the fifth 9-3 and secured the tie 3-2.
So it was left to the lower order today to get the “big boys” out of trouble as Stamford win 3-2 and go through to the second half of the season undefeated and into the second round of the cup where we meet premier league opponents. Will it all be over?