Stamford 1 v Portugal Place
This was the last match of the first half of the season with Stamford having a fairly mediocre season so far. Injuries and unavailability’s hit the team hard for this match leaving team captain Yorkie no option but to recruit arch enemies from ex Peterborough Town (Peter and Jon Hand and Neil Hoskins), who have finally seen the light and decided to join Stamford – the premier club in the East of England!
First match on saw Peter Hand playing at 5. Peter had a good start playing some effective shots but too many errors cost him the first. Playing with more composure in the second he took control moving his opponent well and using his short game to good effect. Consistency throughout, with few unforced errors allowed him a comfortable 3-1 victory. Well played Peter and the first tie to Stamford.
On the court next door Richard Barker playing at 4 was having a tough battle. Playing a very rangy player, Richard struggled to find his width and length in the first and was punished for it. One down, and the second began in the same vein. Halfway through though and Richard finally found form, hitting good length and putting pressure on his opponent. Richard did enough to secure the second and the game was on. The third started evenly before a couple of errors from Richard saw him drift away a couple of points. This proved too much to recover for Richard as he went 2-1 down and was back under pressure. Richard just couldn’t raise his game enough to dominate the T and always under pressure he finally succumbed to his opponent. An excellent game with some good rallies. The match now at 1-1.
Next on at 3 was Simon Barker. The first game was closely contested but Simon never settled down and struggled to find any form, finally losing it 10-9. Confident that his game would improve Simon started the second well taking a 4 point lead before breaking a string in his racket. This seemed to destroy all confidence built up and a change of racket changed his fortunes as he went on to lose the second 9-7. Frustration took hold in the third and Simon was unable to maintain concentration, focus and most of the other attributes required to play a decent game of Squash. Simon finally lost it 9-6 and the tie 3-0. A very disappointed Simon was later found sawing up his racket in order that it would fit on the fire!
Next door was Neil “Psycho” Hoskin playing at 2. This was always going to be a tough match for Neil. The first saw both players start strongly playing some good entertaining rallies with excellent retrieving. Neil though was just edged out and just lost a close first game. The second saw much of the same but Neil stepping up the pace a little to his advantage, gave him the edge as he snuck the second. 1-1. The third was another tough one, both players working hard and moving well around the court. Again though Neil just nicked it to go 2-1 up. The fourth saw Neil come out on fire as he fired the ball around the court with power and accuracy leaving his opponent dead in the water for a comfortable 9-1 win and the tie 3-1.
Last on court were the number ones. Jonathon Hand for Stamford playing an old adversary Andy Whitham. Jon went straight in going for the short game winners but Andy was up to it, retrieving exceptionally well and hitting excellent length and soooo tight! Jon worked hard but always under pressure lost the first two. The third saw Jon pick the pace up, and with nothing to lose now found confidence in his shots playing some devastating short and long drops, not allowing Andy in the game, as Jon fought back with some great squash to level the tie 2-2. All to play for in the fifth. Jon though had clearly left his head outside the court though as everything he did went wrong. Tight serving from Andy won a succession of points and as Jons frustration got worse more errors crept in allowing Andy a comfortable 9-3 win in the fifth, to take the tie and the match 3-2.
9 points were rescued by Stamford from an expected drubbing by one of the top teams in the league. However disappointment was notable as a better performance from Barker snr and a bit of luck in the Jons and Richards game could have turned the match to a convincing Stamford win. An opportunity now though, as xmas approaches, to eat and drink heavily in preparation for the second half of the season.