Brandon Crouchman proved what an important signing he is for Liberal A when he led them to a victory over champions Netts A that stretches their lead at the top of the Braintree Table Tennis League.
Crouchman, who was stretched to 15-13 in the final game against Alistair Hill, crowned an excellent evening with an 8-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-4, 11-5 victory over five-times men’s singles champion Paul Davison, unbeaten in his previous seven matches this season.
Scott Dowsett, who beat Davison last season, was this time brushed aside 11-4, 11-6, 11-7, but won his other two singles, while Simon Webber won one for Liberal.
The evening’s crowd-pleaser was James Mullane’s victory over Webber where he teetered on the brink of defeat in the fourth game before emerging 9-11, 12-10, 12-14, 19-17, 11-8.
Liberal’s 6-4 victory has opened up a six-point gap between the leading pair.
The teams in third and fourth places both found life difficult. Rayne D lost 6-4 to Netts B, where James Hicks was unbeaten, while Rayne A lost by the same score to Black Notley A, where Steve Kerns was untroubled, winning all his singles, and the doubles with Andrew Huckson, in straight games.
Sible Hedingham remain bottom but made up ground on Rayne C, who have played three games more but lead by just two points.
Hedingham took four points off Rayne B for whom Ryan Pitt was unbeaten, while Rayne C could manage only one against Liberal B.
The second division’s top two, Notley C and Notley B, both registered 10-0 wins, but while the B team won all but two sets in straight games against Felsted RBL B, the C team had three victories by two points in the fifth game against Hedingham Lions.
Ken Lewis, men’s singles semi-finalist last season, suffered his first defeat of the season when Rayne F’s Paul Mitchell, one of only two people to beat him last season, got the better of him again.
Kevin Saunders found a way round Mitchell at 12-10 in the fifth to lead Nomads to a 7-3 win.
Rayne E moved to within a point of Nomads with a 9-1 win over Notley D. Notley’s point came from an excellent win for Adam Clift over Steve Siggs.
In division three, unbeaten Felsted C were held to a surprise draw by Notley I despite three wins from Matthew Laws. Two wins for Jamie Brooks, one each for Matt Brooks and Jim Davy and the doubles for Davy and Jamie Brooks accounted for Notley’s wins.
Notley E maintained their lead at the top with a 7-3 victory over their own F team, while the club’s G and H teams shared the points.
The H team had only Steve and Declan Baines in action, but two wins each and the doubles brought them a draw.
Rayne I’s Ian Rubens and Chris High remained unbeaten in their 8-2 win over Netts D.