Stamford Green Man v Portugal Place
After last weeks very narrow victory another hard match was ahead of us playing Portugal Place – last season’s relegation team from Div 1 and mainly consisting of university students. As they arrived at the courts, it was commented on that the combined age of their team was younger than Jon Oakley. A worrying statement.
First on court was Richard Barker playing Stewart McTavish. Stewart started strongly, taking the ball early and volleying well. Richard tried to counter with accurate squash but couldn’t get tight enough giving Stewart to much time to take the first 9-3. The second went the same way with Richard covering miles on court to keep himself in the rallies but again couldn’t prevent Stewart from cutting the ball off with winners, 9-5 to Stewart. Advice from the captain during the break seemed to inspire Barker junior as he came out all guns firing and reversed the pressure. Now it was Stewart on the back foot as Richard played winners from volleys and drops. A tense game though as Stewart fought hard but Richard hung on and took the third 10-9. The fourth started with a runaway for Stewart as Richard struggled to up the pace again. At 5-1 down though, he recovered his game to 5-4 before deciding the first two had drained too much and finally lost after a valiant attempt 9-4. 1 to Portugal.
Jon Oakley was on next door against Joe Devereux and preceded to give his opponent “a right good thrashing”. Jon’s game seemed to totally bemuse Joe as he strolled through for a comfortable 3-0 win dropping only 9 points. One tie all.
Barker senior on next against Jaques Van Oorschot (another international they had drafted in the strengthen their squad, determined to halt the run of wins from Stamford squad). The first game was a hard battle with Jaques running like a rabbit on speed and retrieving everything. Simon running out of ideas finally relinquished the first 9-7. The second was another hard-hitting game with both players running for everything but Jaques again proving to sharp for Simon as he took the second 9-3. A talking to for the captain in the break focused Simon’s game plan and playing a good short game caught Jaques napping a the back of the court to take the third 9-4. Portugal now only 2-1 and the fight back was on. The fourth though saw Jaques back his best as Simon, continuously under pressure struggled to get any advantage. Comments from the balcony such as “I hope Simon isn’t relying fitness to win this one” as Jaques again retrieved the impossible only to hit a lucky winner off it obviously didn’t help. Jaques finally taking the fourth 9-5 and the tie 3-1. Stamford 2-1 down now. Pressure was on!
Mark Smith on now against Jaco Vermack. Mark (having decided that any previous poor matches in his life have been due to eating bananas during the day and on a new dietary regime of NO bananas) started strongly and blasted Jaco off the court for only 5 points and the coveted ice cream. Excellent squash from Mark giving Jaco no chance to settle into any rhythm and a stream of tins cost him dearly; 9-0, 9-1, 9-4. Stamford level 2-2.
Last on was Yorkie against Hussein Said. This was the match of the night as marathon rally after marathon rally took place. Superb squash from both players with Hussein’s retrieving unbelievable at times. Yorkie lost the first but went on to win the next two. Looking for the fourth to take the match Yorkie found Hussein fighting for everything and doing enough to snatch it 9-7. 2 games all and all to play for. Both players seeming tired but still running and getting to everything. The fifth began and Yorkie had a mare, suddenly finding the tank empty and going 6-2 down when the ball burst. The few minutes to warm a new ball seemed the turning point as Yorkie clawed his way back to 7-7. After some tense points and a perfectly timed dead nick at the back for Yorkie he finally snuck the victory 9-7 and the match 3-2. Stamford escape again with a 16-8 point victory thank you very much. Still unbeaten with only Brampton to go in the first half of the season.