CUP SEMI-FINAL, Stamford Green Man v Kimbolton
This was Stamford’s biggest challenge of the season. Kimbolton, Cambs premiership team who finished 4th in the table arrived with a full strength team. Stamford knew the pressure was on and tonight would be a taster for what we can expect next season, now that we have secured promotion to the Cambs premier div ourselves of what the best of the premiership could offer.
First on was Simon Barker playing Pramjet Deol. Pramjet started well and from the off found his touch taking the pace off the ball well and playing some lovely touch squash. This forced Simon into a serious running game needing to cover the front of the court. Struggling to relax Simon made too many errors losing the first 9-4. The second saw an improvement but Simon still not able to get forward enough to have any time on the ball forcing either an error playing the drop or a loose shot to the back where Pramjet was waiting. 9-6 to Pramjet. The third saw a fight back from Simon as he finally got that yard forward and started to cover Pramjets short shots. Better drops from Simon and good recovery shots took him to 8-8. Disappointingly though. he was unable to capitalise and lost the third 10-8.
Next on was Jon Oakley against Matt Towers. This was the best game of the night as both players produced some outstanding squash. Matt starting better, worked the ball well causing a few mistakes from Jon as he lost the first 9-4. More relaxed in the second Jon started playing some fantastic squash. His movement around court was very quick as he picked everything up and hit a lovely length and width. Too tight for Matt the next two went to Jon 9-7 and 9-5. The fourth saw Matt get back in control as he edged it all the way himself playing some great shots. 2-2 in the tie now. As they started the fifth, Jon, showing great determination and concentration had a flying start storming to a 6-0 lead before Matt got a grip and began fighting back. As he picked the points up the tension rose, but Jon kept his head and took control again to take it 9-6. A great result for Stamford and Jon. Well played.
Next on was Adrian Hargreaves playing Gary Milner. Gary, obviously fired up for this, dominated the T and massacred everything Adrian hit. Gary playing some excellent squash, taking the ball very early, hitting very hard and to a good width kept Adrian at the back of the court under serious pressure. Gary, too strong in the first took it 9-0. the second started the same as Gary stormed away to a 5-0 lead. Adrian finally grabbed a point and suddenly found himself back in the game as Gary dropped his game hitting a number of tins and then it was 5-5. Adrian now, forcing himself to take the ball early, was battling well but Gary cut the errors out and started applying the pressure again forcing mistakes from Adrian. The second finally going to Gary 9-7. The third saw Adrian again having to work hard for everything but Gary, still faster to the ball, kept Adrian on the back foot and had a comfortable 9-0 to take the tie 3-0.
Mark Smith next playing Steve Davis (much more interesting than the other). From the first point it was apparent that Mark was going to have to win each point 3 or 4 times as Steve’s speed and outstanding court movement got him to everything that Mark hit with seemingly half an hour to spare. Excellent rallying saw a very entertaining tie. Both players running hard but Mark was always under intense pressure as Steve picked up anything that didn’t roll out of the nick. The first went to Steve 9-3, the second 9-0 and valiant attempt by Mark in the third to stop the rot failed as Steve wrapped it up 9-6.
Last on was Yorkie playing Steve Barlow. Steve having an awesome touch and a vast array of shots was to prove a handful for Yorkie. The first started evenly but then Steve started throwing a working boast in from the back of the court and with Yorkie forced to do a few shuttles the omens weren’t good. A hard first saw Steve have the edge to take it 9-5. The second, was dominated by Steve as he pushed Yorkie around the court, playing some lovely touch shots. Yorkie fought hard putting winners away when the opportunity arose but Steve was controlling the T and secured the second 9-3. A better third from Yorkie as it went evenly up to halfway before a couple of errors under pressure gave Steve the edge and he went through to finish it 9-6.
So a convincing win for Kimbolton but credit to the Stamford lads as they fought for everything making it a very entertaining evenings squash. My thanks go to all who came and supported us.
With the season now over, to recap: Stamford are division two winners promoted to the premier league and Cambs cup semi-finalists. An excellent first year in Cambridgeshire. As this is the last match and report of the season I would also, as team captain, like to thank the team that has supported me this year. Whether they played one, or all 17 matches their support has made my job enjoyable. I would also like to thank our sponsors for the year: Stamford Green Man (Tony Shilling and his staff, excellent food, service, beer – a top boozer!!) AWARE promotions for the team shirts and Movenpick ice cream – probably the best ice cream in the world! Cheers.