Stamford Green Man v Cottesmore
On the rebound from a bruising defeat by Oundle, Stamford were in good spirits (even Yorkie) and looking forward to a hard match against last years league winners Cottesmore.
A First on court for Stamford was Richard Barker fresh from a “working” weekend in Spain where absolutely no alcohol was consumed – not. He was playing Graham Taylor who proceeded to work Richard hard retrieving well and keeping the rallies going. Richard unable to find a short shot was dragged into Grahams game rallying to the back of the court. Consistent squash from Graham was enough to secure the first two games as Richard, ½ a yard off the pace made the errors. Enlightening advice from the Stamford captain at the end of the second re-focused Richard and a hard battle ensued in the third. Richard running for everything and hitting with more power put enough pressure on Graham to take the third. 2-1 down and Richard needed to keep this pressure up but alas to many san-miguels finally took their toll and Graham secured the tie comfortably 3-1.
Jon Oakley was on the other court against Andy Suddards – an unknown quantity. Jon, down to his last 30 pairs of grey, high cut, circa 1970 nylon football shorts was slow to start and Andy took full advantage. Playing a good length then forcing Jon forward with the short ball won Andy a high proportion of points in the first two games as Jon struggled to move forward. 2-0 down Jon struggled to get into it but dogged perseverance finally paid off as he finally found his legs. Half way through the third and Jon stepped up a gear putting Andy under pressure and it was Andy’s turn to be caught by the short ball. The third game to Jon and the fourth went the same with Jon comfortably in control moving Andy well around the court. 2-2 and the fifth saw Andy come out fired up. Nip and tuck through and with Jon facing match ball at 8-7 elected to play the most unorthodox return of service ever witnessed at match ball down, (reverse angle clearing the tin by about 2 cm) to gasps of horror from the balcony (and Andy). Luck favours the er.. brave? and Jon served out the match to win 10-8 in the fifth. It was later discovered the reason for Jons slow starting was down to a very healthy steak pie dinner eaten 40 minutes before going on court. Good to see match preparation going well Jon!
With the match at 1-1, Mark Smith against Jon Nicholls was expected to be a crucial tie. Jon taking the tie at Cottesmore, Mark was up for revenge. A strong start from Jon playing tight squash forced Mark into difficult retrieving. Mark though ran for everything and though under pressure also worked Jon hard. A close first but Jon took it just having the edge. The second saw Mark take control, taking the ball early and moving Jon to front then back. The pressure was too much for Jon with Mark taking the next two games comfortably leading now 2-1. The fourth saw a resurgence of energy from Jon as he fought back leading most of the way. At 8-6 down Mark found some excellent finishing shots to clean up 10-8 and take the tie 3-1.
Captain Simon Barker on now, up against an old adversary in Bill McTaggart. History was on Simon’s side as many encounters previously had always gone in Simon’s favour. However, with nothing certain in this game (except Mark Smith and an injury when defeat looks certain, Jon Oakley and dire fashion on court, and Yorkie never owning a motor bike) Simon worked hard from the start endeavouring to keep Bill on the back foot and under pressure. This paid dividends and though Bill played to a sound game plan, working Simons backhand continuously, it wasn’t enough to affect the result as Simon took the tie 3-0.
With the match effectively won for Stamford it just remained for Paul York to play Bez Beresford. An excellent match was anticipated with a full balcony watching. The first game going as expected with both players playing tight shots and excellent drops. Hard rallies through the first took the game to 7-7 when Yorkie suddenly found himself winning an easy 2 points to take the first 9-7. As the second started it became apparent that Bez was in trouble and after only a couple of points had to retire looking very pale and tired. The onset of a bug it appears.
So an excellent match result 4-1 for Stamford. Quarter-final cup game next week against March (away).