Ashford dent rivals title chances (by Mike Holiday)
With the league going into Easter break the big match in Division 2 saw long time leaders Ruckinge B take on title chasing Ashford A. In the reverse fixtures Ruckinge inflicted Ashfords only defeat so far in a tight 5-4 win. This time however the tables were turned, and quite dramatically.
Still clutching a 100% average in the league, Louis Bigalett wasn’t about to give it up easily. With a first victory 3-0 over Mike Galvan it never really looked in danger. Trevor Heales and Chris Cloake both fell victims to the same score line. Louis was ably supported by Ashford captain Reuben Tozer. Improving week on week he made a slight slip in the third leg, but otherwise easily came passed Trevor Heales, but Chris Cloake was an entirely different matter with Reuben edging the first leg 10-12 the match became a see-saw with both players winning alternate legs before Reubens more patient but attacking style wore down Chris patient defensive style 11-5 in the fifth. He then overcame Mike Galvan 3-0 in the final match of the night. Russell Swain provided the only blot on Ashfords’ copy book with a four leg defeat by Chris Cloake, and despite surrendering a two leg lead to Mike Galvan came through to win the fifth. With pressure mounting on Ruckinge Trevor was unable to provide any resistance going down 3-0 to Russell. Ashford walked away with an 8-1 win, and potentially promotion to the first division. They are now level with Ruckinge at the top of the table, but critically have a game in hand.
With Ruckinge stumbling, Postling C took the opportunity to make up some ground with their visit to Sportsmen A. Star player Stephen Powell went unbeaten against Douglas Ho, Julian Thorne and Howard Brightling. His closest match came in his final match against Julian Thorne who pushed him into a fifth leg. Despite Steve’s results the evening did not start well for Postling with Douglas Ho beating Nigel Stansfield 13-11 in the fifth leg, and Julian Thorne infuriating Adam Gadjewski to win 3-0 with his ‘unique’ style. Steve steadied the ship with his win over Howard before Nigel showed the way to beat Julian with a 3-0 win, and Steve added his second win to take Postling into the lead. Adam got his scoring off the mark with a 3-0 win over Howard Brightling. Steve then sealed his team’s victory before Howard got his name on the winning list with a 16-14 fifth leg win over Nigel. Adam then took a five leg win over Douglas. The results means Postling trail Ruckinge by 6 but have a game in hand, and with the sides set to play in the last match of the season. The result means Sportsmen also consolidated fourth place by a point from Hamstreet A.
Hamstreet A were hosts to bottom side Ruckinge D. The 6-3 win for the home side was a fair result with Ben Browne providing his customary hat trick, and support by a resurgent Martin Yeandle who also recorded a rare, but welcome, hat trick. The Ruckinge side of Clive Devlin, Alan White, and Simon Dale all went home with a win thanks to victories over Anthony Bodle. Results means Hamstreet as virtually safe in the bunch, but Ruckinge D are still fighting to avoid relegation.
While Ashford A recorded an 8-1 victory, Ashford B recorded an 8-1 lost to fellow relegation strugglers Postling B. Ashford were unlikely to come up against a Postling B side field a full strength side for only the fifth time this season. Bob Young and John Metcalfe were only able to win two legs between them when losing out to Barry Allsworthy, Keith Lythgoe, and Brian Cook. Matthew Hills started the evening well taking a 3-0 win over Brian Cook, although with all three legs scored at 11-9 it can’t be consider easy. However beyond a single leg going to deuce he succumbed to both Barry and Keith 3-0. Result means Ashford B are sixth on 33 points after 11 games. Postling B are catapulted up to seventh on 30 points after 9 games, and Ruckinge D remain eighth on 25 points after 9 games. Two teams get relegated so those games in hand could prove critical!
For a full list of results and tables please visit www.tabletennis365.com/Ashford