Stamford Green Man v Oakham
Although Stamford won the away leg earlier in the season it was a close contest and the return match at home was expected to be the same. Mark Smith normally playing at 2 had deserted us, away skiing, however a suitable replacement in Adrian Chappell was brought in off the subs bench.
Simon Barker was on first against Mick Skuse. A lively first game ensued with both players running well and generating some long rallies. Simon, having the edge on fitness, managed to stay on top of the rallies and kept Mick under pressure to take the first. A comfortable second for Simon as Mick was conserving energy for a third game fight back. It nearly went to plan as Mick stormed away in the third to go 5 points up. Simon regained his composure though and fought back to eventually take the third 9-6 and the tie 3-0.
Adrian Chappell on the court next door playing Ian Lidbetter (an old adversary from the days when squash rackets were made of wood and Jonah Barrington was at school). It took a while to get the game going as Adrian needs a good warm up nowadays to prevent serious injury. So eventually they’re off and Adrian had a flying start playing good controlled squash (so easy with these big rackets they use today) and moving Ian well. A sound short game from Adrian proved too much for Ian as Adrian took the first 9-2. The second saw a sharper Ian as he made fewer mistakes and got right back into it. Tight rallying and good running from Ian saw a close second but Adrian just did enough to steal it 9-7. The third saw Ian struggling for fitness allowing Adrian too much time on the ball and with plenty of options put Ian in too much trouble. A safe third for Adrian to take the tie 3-0.
Richard Barker on next against Dave Battersby. This was expected to be the tie that decided the match and pressure was on Richard to perform. Eager not to disappoint and aware of repercussions in the bar afterwards Richard did all that was asked playing tight controlled squash, working hard and keeping the mistakes to a minimum. This was too much for Dave as Richard strolled the first 9-2. Dave came out with intent in the second and kept it even at first until Richards steady game again proved Dave’s downfall as he lost the second 9-6. The third went exactly the same with again Dave’s concentration failing him toward the end of the game allowing Richard to take comfortable the last couple of points to take the game 9-7 and the tie 3-0.
Jon Oakley against Dylan Ross was the next match. Jon promoted to number 2 for the night was well up for this match claiming “sure he’s a good player but I reckon I can take him…..” As the game got under way it became apparent that this comment was possibly a tad optimistic as Dylan’s pace proved a handful for Jon to handle. The first went quickly with Jon failing to get into the match and stop Dylan dominating the T. 9-4 to Dylan. Enter the master (Yorkie) with some top advice. Jon started the second looking somewhat bewildered and not the relaxed, nylon attired crooner we are accustomed to. Again Dylan’s pace was too much forcing short and loose squash from Jon. A comfortable game for Dylan to go 2-0 up. Prior to the third Jon was seen giving himself a stiff talking to which clearly worked as he came out a new player for the third. Tighter squash played to a much better length had Dylan reeling as Jon imposed his new found confidence. Dylan regained his composure and an excellent third game was seen. Entertaining squash from both took the game to 8-8. A sudden lack of concentration from Jon proved very costly allowing Dylan in to take the last 10-8 and the tie 3-0.
Last on was Paul York against Justin Bouberry. Justin’s unique style has caused many a squash player untold frustration and difficulty and Yorkie had been no exception. Tonight however saw a new game plan. Bodyline serves and unorthodox shots were the order of the day from Yorkie in an effort to disrupt Justin’s outstanding short game. Five games of entertaining and frustrating squash followed as Yorkie tried everything to get in control. At 2-2 it was so tight and as they came out for the last it could have gone either way. Again though, concentration proved Stamfords downfall as Yorkie made too many errors and Justin took full advantage. Too far behind now Yorkie was unable to recover from the errors as Justin took the game 9-3 and the tie 3-2. An excellent game with much learning done by Yorkie; the rematch in a fortnight (at Oakham) in the cup semi-finals will be very interesting.
One more league match to end the season with league victory looking very promising and the cup semi final to come.