Life has not been easy for Black Notley D in the Braintree Table Tennis League this season.
But things have taken an upturn in the last couple of weeks when they advanced in the restricted knockout cup and then won a vital league match.
Their cup win came over Hedingham Lions, who stood two places above them in the league.
They raced into a 4-0 lead, were pegged back to 4-2 but Adam Clift, who had earlier beaten Nick Readhead, scored the decisive win over Clare Johnson to give them an unassailable lead.
Keith Flowers also won his two singles.
Five days later they beat Felsted RBL B 7-3 in the league to give themselves a fighting chance of staying out of the division two relegation spot.
Clift, Peter Foster and Bruce Wickham all won two singles to give their team a two-point cushion over their opponents.
Felsted’s B and C teams, together with Rayne E and Notley’s E and G teams all won through to the second round of the restricted cup.
Felsted B were matched with Rayne G, who they pipped to last season’s division three title, and they proved themselves superior again. Dean Wood was unbeaten in both singles and doubles in their 6-3 win.
Felsted C came past a two-man Notley H 8-1.
Notley’s F team also had only two players, a handicap they failed to overcome against the club’s G team, who won 6-3. Leon Hewitt’s two singles wins for the F team were in vain.
Notley E dropped only one doubles in coming past Rayne H while Rayne E took all nine against Netts D.
In the team knockout cup for teams at the top end of the league, Notley A scored an unexpected 5-3 win over Rayne A, cup winners three times in the last four years.
Steve Kerns was in the Notley line-up and unsurprisingly won both his singles, but it was wins for Andrew Huckson over Ian Whiteside and Guy McKenzie over Steve Elmes that turned the tide.
No such problems for Netts A, who dropped only one set – a win for Keith Martin over Alistair Hill – against Rayne C.
Netts B had only two players, but put up a fight before losing to Rayne D.
James Hicks beat Adam Buxton and Hector Rogers while Oliver Hicks beat Paul Lombardi and father and son combined to win the doubles.
But Rayne needed to win only one set to add to the four conceded and Buxton’s win over Oliver Hicks was enough.
It was division two against division one when Rayne F took on Sible Hedingham, and Hedingham showed why they are at the higher level by winning 7-2.
Dave Marsh, however, suggested that he is also worthy of a place up there by winning both his singles for Rayne.