Two teams likely to be in the hunt for success in division two of the Braintree Table Tennis League produced a tightly fought encounter when they came face to face.
Sible Hedingham, relegated last year, looked to have the game sewn up when they led 5-2, but Black Notley B had other ideas.
Victor Chan, who had earlier lost to Richard Jennings, got the better of Mark Brown and then Gordon Fairchild, who had earlier lost to Brown, got the better of Jennings.
That left Dave Parker, who had lost his previous two singles, to overcome Tom Brown and the sides ended up with five sets each.
Liberal C, who will be expecting to be up there somewhere, came away with a 7-3 win from Notley C. Gareth Davies was unbeaten.
The two other Notley teams in the division had their own battle and could not be separated at the end. Sean Clift’s three singles helped the D team to avoid embarrassment against their E team.
Nomads’ new signing Ken Lewis, a division one winner with Notley A in 2008, showed he had lost little of his ability in his division two debut against Rayne E. His three singles, plus the doubles with Kevin Saunders, all in straight games, helped Nomads to a 6-4 win.
Paul Mitchell is also finding his feet after his return to the game. He and his Rayne F colleagues romped to a 10-0 win over Hedingham Lions.
In division one, promoted Felsted RBL A registered their first points of the season. Three of them were donated when Netts A could only field two players, but Ian Butler won one fairly and squarely on the table when he overcame Patrick Gilbert 6-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-5.
Netts B went one better than their A team with a 7-3 win over Notley A. James Hicks took his three singles without dropping a game.
The other two matches were all-Rayne encounters, the A team overcoming the B team 8-2 - although Lee McHugh had good wins over Steve Elmes and Steve Pennell - and D beating C 7-3. Adam Buxton and Matthew Brown took the seven between them.
Leaders Rayne G had their first taste of tough competition in division three.
Like Notley B they found themselves 5-2 down and like Notley B, they fought back to 5-5 against Notley H.
It was a game that produced another round robin: Helen Barnett beat Charles Wilkinson, who beat Jill Canning, who beat Tony Stredder, who beat Helen Barnett in the last set of the evening.
There were mixed results for Rayne’s other two teams in the division. The H team beat Felsted B 6-4 with the help of three sets from Tim Townsend, while the I team went down 7-3 to Notley I, their three wins all coming from Paul Lombardi.
Arthur Geen took his three singles and joined Matthew Laws to win the doubles, but he could not prevent Felsted C falling 6-4 to Notley F.
· Steve Clift, a league player for many years, has died. He was 61.
Steve played in the league for a number of years for the Pillar House and Braintree Removals clubs and was a dogged, determined opponent, capable of giving most division 2/3 players a good run for their money. He won a division four winners’ medal in 1999 and 2000 and a division three championship in 2005. His last season was 2009-10.
He continued to attend league quiz nights for a number of years and was responsible for his sons, Sean and Adam, taking up the game.