Liberal C’s apparently steady progress towards the division two title in the Braintree Table Tennis League hit an almighty road bump when they ran into a top-form Black Notley C.
With two 10-0s, a 9-1 and a draw achieved with only two players, Liberal had set out their stall as the team to beat but Notley C stopped them in their tracks to the tune of 9-1.
And they achieved it without Dan Anderson, unbeaten in the league so far this season.
Glen Laing, Steve Noble and Tim Huxtable offered a diet of unorthodoxies that their opponents could not cope with.
The writing was on the wall when Garry Fryatt, beaten only once this season, lost the first game of the evening against Laing 11-0.
He improved after that but still went home with a nil return, as did Dave Hardy.
Jon Fieldsend provided the only glimmer of light when he got the better of Huxtable.
Liberal C fall from the top spot as a result, to be replaced by Netts D, a team who had lost their first two matches. Their 10-0 win over Notley E took them one point clear.
Roy Hooper, gradually finding his form after a year’s lay-off, Joe Meleschko and new signing Jan Fuller took all ten without being stretched to a fifth game.
Felsted RBL A, who have slowly slipped down the league after a promising start, fell one place further after a 7-3 defeat at Rayne D’s hands.
Nick Hasler took his three singles for Rayne D including an excellent win over Felsted’s new signing Jarek Pietraszuk.
Felsted’s B team have added Barry Evans, formerly of Liberal C, to their now six-strong roster but neither he nor his colleagues could prevent a 6-4 defeat by Rayne E.
In division one, Rayne A have taken temporary residence at the top after Liberal A’s game was postponed. They reached the summit with a 7-3 win over Netts A, where Lee McHugh was unbeaten.
Netts B remain above their A team and improved their position with a 6-4 win over Rayne B. Gary Cattermole was unbeaten.
After missing two seasons, former men’s singles champion Steve Kerns was back in action for Notley A and helped his team to an 8-2 victory over Rayne C.
That left Rayne C a point further behind Notley B at the bottom after Notley picked up three points from Netts C. Gordon Fairchild won twice for Notley while Hannah Pitt, Alistair Hill and James Mullane all won two for Netts.
In division three, Notley F increased their lead at the top to six points with an 8-2 win over Rayne G, where James Gronland was undefeated.
Second-placed Rayne F inflicted the first defeat of the season on Notley I. Dave Allinson was unbeaten in their 6-4 win.
Notley G also tasted defeat for the first time. With only one of their regular squad available, they lost 7-3 to Netts E, for whom Derek Kennard was unbeaten.
At the other end, Notley H picked up their first win. Nguyen Tran and reserve John Wickins won their three singles in an 8-2 win over Rayne I.
Jimmy Calisin was unbeaten as Netts F beat Rayne H 6-4.