Westfield A regained the leadership of the Premier Division of the Kettering and District Table Tennis League following a 10-0 win over Westfield B. Steve Silk was the star man on the night, dropping just a single end as he recorded his 5th hat-trick of the season. Captain Kevin Bird dropped ends to Matthew Rushton and Antonio Jaraices but the clash of the night was between father and daughter as Bird snr. took on his daughter Nicole. Miss Bird led 2-1 and 10-5 but could not quite complete the victory and earn the family bragging rights as her father launched an incredible comeback to save five match points and complete an unlikely 9-11, 19-17, 13-15, 13-11, 11-5 success.
Roumen Stefanov matched his colleagues after recovering from 2-1 down to Jaraices as the reigning champions found top gear.
Previous leaders Burton Baptist A faced a Corby Town B team involved in a relegation battle but strengthened by the inclusion of Guy Sparrow. Sparrow displayed a liking for opponents that play with “funny rubbers” as he dispatched Jacek Koltuniuk and Alex Aston in four ends but had to admit defeat to the standard equipment used by Chris Ross. Sparrow’s two victories were all Corby could muster as Burton kept their title challenge on track with an 8-2 win.
Third place Higham and fourth placed Corby Town A played out a fascinating 5-5 draw with Richard Elliott taking the most valuable player award with a hat-trick of wins, all achieved in five ends. It could have been different had Henry Arthur managed to close out the match when 9-5 ahead in the decided, and likewise if Lee O’Boyle had won from 8-5 up at the same stage, but Elliott summoned up inner reserves in both matches to steal victory from the jaws of defeat. With Richard Bashford winning twice, Higham led 5-4 going into the doubles. With one eye on the table and another on the clock, the Corby duo of Arthur and Chris Haynes managed to overcome Elliott and Bashford to earn their team the draw and end the last unbeaten doubles record in the division.
The teams in fifth and sixth placed were also involved in their own close tussled which was to also end in a tied match. The match was lit up by a quite brilliant display from Arthingworth’s Chris Gibbons who completed a treble for the loss of just one end.
He opened up with a 3-0 win over Mike Hawes but then found his best form of the season to blitz the usually solid defence of John Fuller 11-8, 11-9, 11-5 and completed his night’s work with a 3-1 win over Nigel Metcalfe.
Ray Kingston added a single victory for Arthingworth and then teamed up with his skipper to take the match saving doubles.
Harborough Athletic are slowly edging themselves away from the relegation zone and gained another five points as they battled to a draw against Burton Baptist B. For the majority of the evening it looked like Burton would gain their first win of the season as they stormed into a 5-2 lead courtesy of two wins apiece from Asif Manji and Jacek Koltuniuk plus a solitary win for Nash Hooda. But Athletic, missing the experienced Barry Thompson, fought back for the draw as Kevin Shield and Nathan Thompson shared five wins.
Thrapston Eagles remain in last place but they did manage to avoid a 10-0 whitewash for only the second time this season as they were defeated 8-2 by Westfield C. Nicole Bird and Sam Wildman shared eight wins for Westfield but Chris Warliker and Steve West both saw off the challenge of Scott Dixon.
Westfield A 10 (Silk 3, K Bird 3, Stefanov, Bird/Silk) Westfield B 0
Burton Baptist A 8 (Ross 3, Aston 2, Koltuniuk 2, Aston/Koltuniuk) Corby Town B 2 (Sparrow 2)
Higham 5 (Elliott 3, Bashford 2) Corby Town A 5 (O’Boyle 2, Haynes, Arthur, Haynes/Arthur)
Arthingworth 5 (Gibbons 3, Kingston, Gibbons/Kingston) Kettering Town A 5 (Fuller 2, Metcalfe 2, Hawes)
Harborough Athletic 5 (N Thompson 2, Shield 2, Thompson/Shield) Burton Baptist B 5 (Manji 2, Koltuniuk 2, Hooda)
Thrapston Eagles 2 (Warliker, West) Westfield C 8 (N Bird 3, Wildman 3, Dixon, Bird/Wildman)
Player of the week: Chris Gibbons
Of the top four teams the one that had the best week was Harborough Rangers even though they didn't have a match as their other main 3 promotion rivals were all pegged back by lower positioned opponents. There is little to choose between Rothborough Arrows on 49 points from 7 matches, and Thrapston Kites and Harborough Rangers both on 43 from 6 with Thrapston Falcons not far behind.
Thrapston Kites are still the only unbeaten team. However their record of 100% wins was ended by the strong Westfield D line up of Nitin Patal, Scott Dixon and Paul Malpass. At 4-1 up they would have had high hopes of making it 6 wins out of 6 but the Wellingborough team are not to be underestimated and fought back to win 4 of the next 5 sets to make it 5-5. Peter Briggs was challenged by all three but held firm for his fifth treble out of six matches. For Westfield Patal got the better of Stewart Williams and Alan Tyler, Malpass and Dixon both beat Tyler before pairing up to win the doubles. Although they have some catching up to do in fifth place, Westfield D have already played the top 3 teams in the table and therefore cannot be ruled out of contention for promotion if they beat the other teams below them by big margins.
If at full strength Rothborough Arrows would have hoped for all 10 points against struggling Thrapston Harriers but with Ivor Jones away and no replacement, the maximum they could score with 2 players was 7 points. The duo of Julian Marlow and Helen Watts achieved this fairly easily, just losing a single end each to Mike Burrows and one leg of the doubles and the rest 3-0.
All six players made a contribution but only Derek Muggleton was unbeaten to help Burton Baptist D beat Harborough Rovers 7-3. He was helped by Kelvin Marshall with 2 wins against Sam Burgess and Mark Pearson and Brett Owen with 1 win against Jamie Burgess, then Muggleton and Marshall easily won the doubles 3-0.
The card from Corby C v Thrapston Falcons was not received before this report but I've been informed that it was either 5-5 or 6-4 to Falcons.
Thrapston Kites 5 (Briggs 3, Williams 2) Westfield D 5 (Patal 2, Dixon, Malpass, Malpass/Dixon)
Thrapston Harriers 3 Rothborough Arrows 7 (Marlow 3, Watts 3, Marlow/Watts)
Burton Baptist D 7 (Muggleton 3, Marshall 2, Owen, Muggleton/Marshall) Harborough Rovers 3 (S. Burgess, J. Burgess, Pearson)
Player of the week: Peter Briggs
Rothborough Exocets’ second victory of the season came at the expense of Harborough Imps, who finish this first round of fixtures in the second division winless. The home team were unlucky in that 3 of the 4 games that went the distance went against them; each player suffered that fate, although they all won one as well, including Ben Baker who made his debut for the Imps. Anthony Yeomans and Helmut Salander achieved hat-tricks and took the doubles, the only game Salander played in that didn’t go to 5 ends, and he maintains a 67% win record.
There was a partisan crowd at John Yeomans’ Hall when Burton’s youngest team took on the more senior players representing Kettering B, including Dennis Millman’s long awaited return from injury. Pete Scrivener took the individual honours with his second maximum but all the youngsters had something to be proud of with Harry Lade beating Millman and Alan Woolston, Jacob Tattersall getting his first win and Ben Freeman partnering Lade to the doubles victory that earned a very creditable 4-6 loss.
Two weeks ago Dakotas were top, then they met club mates Comets and this week Buccaneers and gained only 1 point from both matches. David Steele, the person who won that point, nearly beat Luke Saywood in the first game but then became unwell and couldn’t complete his other games. Lauren Ainsworth and Cathy Fleming, who haven’t played for 3 and 4 weeks respectively, couldn’t trouble Buccaneers and the triumvirate of Luke Saywood, Tom Ravenscroft and Ray Harrison, who have lost only 3 games between them all season, confirmed the rout. It may be the matches between Buccaneers and Comets that decides the overall winners this season.
Burton Baptist E 4 (H Lade 2, Tattersall, H Lade/Freeman) Kettering B 6 (Scrivener 3, Al Woolston 2, Millman)
Harborough Imps 3 (Baker, Palfrey, Patmore) Rothborough Exocets 7 (Salander 3, Yeomans 3, Salander/Yeomans)
Rothborough Dakotas 0 Rothborough Buccaneers 10 (Harrison 3, Ravenscroft 3, Saywood 3, Harrison/Ravenscroft)
Player of the week
Team of the week
Burton Baptist E