Oundle v Stamford Green Man
This was set to be a tough return match with Oundle pulling out the stops to put a full strength team out. First up were the Barker brothers fresh from a weeks skiing. Simon playing Peter Izod and Richard playing Jim Massey. Peter started strongly playing tight squash and moving the Stamford captain all over the court. Still contemplating life in the mountains Simon found himself losing the first 9-3 and under pressure. Better squash from Simon in the second saw the game turn into a hard battle with both players retrieving well but Simon just taking it 9-7. 1-1 and the match was on. The third started evenly but consistent squash from Peter and impatience from Simon saw errors creep in giving Peter the third. Into the fourth and after a poor start by Simon he finally got into it producing an excellent fight back. Peter responded though and after some tough rallies (causing the captain to regret the occasional glass of wine supped whilst skiing) Simon couldn’t do enough to stop Peter taking the fourth and the tie 3-1.
Richard was having similar problems on the court next door struggling to get to grips with hard hitting and consistent rallying of Jim. Jim worked hard but took the first two and the pressure was on Richard. A superb fight back in the third from Richard playing better squash and moving Jim well paid dividends and Richard was back in it 2-1 down. The fourth was closely fought all the way with some good rallies and tight squash. Finally Richard gained his chance and at game ball up an easy kill at the front presented itself and ….. disaster. Who raised the tin? Opportunity gone and Jim seized the chance to get back in it and went on to take the game 10-9 and the tie 3-1.
Stamford 2-0 down and in trouble. Johnny (dodgy shorts) Oakley was on next for Stamford against Nick Sin. Jon struggled to begin with making too many unforced errors. As the game progressed he regained his composure (but not his fashion sense) and with Nick also making errors Jon took the first 9-7. A lapse in concentration followed from Jon as he swiftly loast the second 9-2 and was floundering. After having a word with himself in the break he came back on playing much better. Some great retrieving and some flicky short crass courts that Jon specialises in saw him take control and secure the tie 3-1.
Only 2-1 down now and in with a shout Mark Smith was the other court against Neville Keil. Mark had already lost the first 9-3 through some great back of the court rallying by Neville. Top tips from Yorkie after the first saw Mark applying them by playing the ball short and moving Neville to the front. Neville responded picking the looser ones and blasting a winner off them. 9-5 to Neville and Mark was in trouble. Consistency was again the key element in the third as Neville pounded the ball to the back of the court putting Mark under too much pressure, comfortably taking the third 9-0 and putting the match beyond Stamfords reach.
Yorkie was last on, up against an old adversary in Chris Davey. As expected the games were tight and saw some excellent rallying and retrieving. Both players playing to their best saw each game producing rally after rally of tight squash, excellent width and the ball being driven to almost destruction. After over an hour on court it was 2-2 and with imminent danger of the pub closing the team was forced to desert Yorkie and head to the bar. The last game was no different to rest and after an hour and a half on court Chris finally edged it winning 10-8 in the fifth. Outstanding squash by both players. An inconsolable Yorkie appeared at the pub as they called time. Deserted by his fellow team members, food on the table he couldn’t face, time for only a quick drink, defeat for him and the first defeat of the season for the team.
A quiet journey home as the team licked their wounds and avoided icy glances from Yorkie. Still, on a brighter note we are still 20 points clear at the top and ready to rumble. Come on Oakham. For those interested in watching this will be the next big game played at home (4th March) with Oakham currently second in the league.