Black Notley C have opened up a 23-point gap at the top of division two of the Braintree Table Tennis League after a crushing win over their nearest rivals, their own B team.
There was only one change on either side from the teams that drew in their first meeting in October, and bringing in Steve Noble for Gordon Fairchild did little to alter the balance of the teams.
The C team’s Glen Laing won his three singles as before, but this time he was joined by Gary Jackson, who lost to Fairchild last time, and, crucially, Tim Huxtable, who had a nil return last time, rose to the occasion with excellent wins over Dave Parker and Sean Clift.
Not that it was an easy evening for the C team. Jackson’s wins over Clift and Noble came at 13-11 and 11-8 in the fifth game respectively while Huxtable’s win over Parker was at 11-9 in the fifth.
As a result, the B team’s hold on second spot has come under threat from Rayne E, five points behind with a match in hand.
They had an 8-2 win over Hedingham Lions in which Dave Miller was unbeaten but Adam Purslow had good wins over Paul Wellington and Steve Siggs.
Liberal C’s hopes of also making a bid for the runners-up spot were hindered when they were held to a draw by Rayne F.
Dave Marsh took his three singles for Rayne although he was stretched to 13-11 in the fifth game by Gareth Davies.
Fifteen-year-old Nick Butler continues to impress in his debut season in division two and for the second time this season took two singles for Felsted RBL A against Notley D. Neither he nor brother Ashley could get the better of Keith Flowers but father Ian showed the way home with three wins to register an 8-2 win.
In division one, Netts A drew two points closer to leaders Liberal A with a 9-1 win over Notley A while Liberal surprisingly dropped three points to tenth-placed Sible Hedingham.
Richard Jennings had excellent wins over both Simon Webber and Scott Dowsett, while Dowsett also lost to Roy Hooper, the first time this season he has lost more than one in an evening.
A rare appearance from Peter Hayden helped to hold the side together.
The other two Netts teams in the division shared the points in a match where nobody remained unbeaten.
Nikki Davison and Andy Holmes for the C team and James Hicks and Steve Buer for the B team won two each.
Liberal B moved slightly closer to Rayne B for the unsung honour of finishing seventh.
When the two teams faced each other Ryan Pitt took his three singles for Rayne but Liberal took the match 6-4.
Felsted C continue to gain ground on Notley E at the top of division three. They took all ten sets off Rayne I while Notley beat their own H team 8-2. Helen Barnett made a welcome return for the E team and took her three singles.
Notley I upset the alphabet again with a 7-3 win over their F team. Jamie and Matt Brooks and Jim Davy all won twice.
Rayne H had little difficulty with Netts D, where they were only once stretched to five games before winning 10-0 while Notley and Rayne’s G teams finished 5-5.
Martin Bragoli had a good win over Charles Wilkinson but could not find a way past the gentle wiles of Ian Rubens despite taking the first two games 11-9, 11-2.