Burton Baptist B made a perfect start to the new year as they recorded an excellent 9-1 victory over Corby Town B. Having drawn two and lost nine or their 11 matches played in the first half of the season, 2015 has started with a bang for the team of Jacek Koltuniuk, Asif Manji and Gerry Crasto.
Koltuniuk recorded his second hat-trick of the season and Crasto picked up his first treble, with Manji winning twice as Corby were blown away and Burton reignited their hopes of avoiding relegation. Aaron Moore was Corby’s sole winner on the night with a 3-0 win over Manji and came close to a second victory before ultimately losing to Koltuniuk 11-9 in the fifth end. Earlier, Koltuniuk had also beaten Guy Sparrow in five ends and Sparrow was to suffer a similar defeat against Crasto.
Following Burton Baptist B’s commanding win over Corby Town B, Harborough Athletic are now also deep in the relegation dogfight. This week they faced a Higham side involved in a 3 way battle for third placed. Mark Nannery made a welcome return to the game for Higham following some time out to recover from an injury. For Harborough, David Coombs made the step up from Division One to join team-mates Nathan and Barry Thompson.
Higham made the expected start and moved into a 3-0 lead, but only after Nannery had beaten Barry Thompson 1-11, 11-8, 13-11, 14-16, 13-11 in the second match of the night. Match four brought about the shock result of the week as Thompson senior, having just been edged out by Nannery, defeated Richard Elliott 11-7 in the deciding end. Thompson also went to five ends with Richard Bashford before tasting defeat again. The younger Thompson added a second point for Harborough as he won his own 5 set battle against Nannery. With Bashford being the only unbeaten player on the night, Higham ran out 8-2 winners.
The other two teams involved in the battle for third place, Kettering Town A and Corby Town A, were both involved in matches at Weavers Leisure Centre and, with the matches being played on adjacent tables, they could keep an eye on their rival’s progression. With Westfield B continuing to suffer from availability issues, the C team’s Sam Wildman found himself playing both for his team against Corby and for the B team against Kettering.
Against Kettering, Wildman didn’t have much luck, losing 3-1 to John Fuller and 3-2 to Nigel Metcalfe before having to forfeit his match against Mike Hawes due to time constraints. Fuller recorded his usual treble for the loss of two ends and Metcalfe was also unbeaten but he had to display all his battling qualities to get his three wins. After opening up with a 3-2 win over Matthew Rushton, he saw off Nicole Bird in 4 ends and then came out on top in another five end battle with Wildman. Hawes got the better of Rushton in the closest of games, winning 11-6, 9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 12-10 to add to his walkover win against Wildman but provided Westfield B with their solitary point when losing out to Bird in five ends.
At the Christmas break, Corby Town A occupied the third place position, just two points clear of Kettering and Higham, but following Kettering’s 9-1 success, a 7-3 win for Corby over Westfield C now means the two teams are level on points. Lee O’Boyle displayed his undoubted quality with a treble for the loss of just two ends. Captain Chris Haynes looked like he would follow suit after wins over Wildman and Matt Horrocks and opening up a 2-0 lead over Carl Leeson. However, Leeson managed to turn the match on it’s head with a tremendous fightback to win 3-2. Leeson would also beat Henry Arthur 3-1 and Wildman got some reward for a long night’s work with victory over Arthur as well.
Burton Baptist A continue to hold onto second place, albeit some way behind the league leaders Westfield A, and they recorded their 11th win from 12 outings with a 7-3 success at Arthingworth. Chris Ross was the only unbeaten player recording 3-0 wins over Gerald Henson and Chris Gibbons and a 3-1 win over Ray Kingston. Alex Aston picked up a double after losing to Gibbons in his first match of the night. Dariusz Gulbiicki added another point with a win against Henson despite falling 2-0 behind. Gibbons (2 wins) and Kingston were Arthingworth’s winners as Burton won 7-3.
The final match of the week saw top versus bottom as Thrapston Eagles hosted Westfield A. Westfield duly ran out comprehensive winners, winning all 30 ends played to complete a 10-0 success.
Harborough Athletic 2 (B Thompson, N Thompson) Higham 8 (Bashford 3, Nannery 2, Elliott 2, Bashford/Elliott)
Kettering Town A 9 (Metcalfe 3, Fuller 3, Hawes 2, Fuller/Hawes) Westfield B 1 (N Bird)
Westfield C 3 (Leeson 2, Wildman) Corby Town A 7 (O’Boyle 3, Haynes 2, Arthur, Haynes/Arthur)
Burton Baptist B 9 (Koltuniuk 3, Crasto 3, Manji 2, Koltuniuk/Manji) Corby Town B 1 (Moore)
Arthingworth 3 (Gibbons 2, Kingston) Burton Baptist A 7 (Ross 3, Aston 2, Gulbicki, Ross/Gulbicki)
Thrapson Eagles 0 Westfield A 10 (K Bird 3, Silk 3, Stefanov 3, Bird/Stefanov)
Player of the week: Gerry Crasto
Having started to gain a clear lead at the top shortly before the Christmas break, two defeats have brought Harborough Rangers back closer to the chasing pack especially Thrapston Kites who were 13 points behind and now only 2 points behind in second place following two big wins.
Although Westfield D are in fifth place the strength in depth of their squad means that any of the players they put out are capable of winning at least two out of three sets against any opposition on a good day. All three of Paul Malpass, Chris Alder and Nitin Patal achieved just that against Rangers. Following recent good form, Sam Burgess received a setback as he unusually failed to win a single end though he did score 11 points in three of his legs (11-13). Rangers have strengthened their squad with James Allington transferring to them from Premier division team Harborough Athletic. However he will have been disappointed with just a single win, being a fifth end 11-9 victory over Patal and all of his sets went to five ends. Mike Brocklebank was involved in the other three sets that Rangers won just losing to Patal and partnered Burgess to a doubles win thus keeping the margin of defeat down to 6-4.
Although Thrapston Kites are only 2 points behind the leaders in second place their position is slightly flattered by the fact that they are only team to have played bottom team Thrapston Harriers twice whereas the other four top five teams have all just played each other keeping their points lower for now. The match between Kites and Harriers was expected to be a “David V Goliath” encounter but had they played just one end each set then the underdogs would have led 5-1 before drawing 5-5. But playing over the longer version of best of five ends the favourites were much more likely to end up in front and despite Kites winning the first end 5 times they only reached 2 ends first twice and 3 ends first on one occasion when Alan Tyler beat Geoff Judd 3-2.
With Rothborough Arrows having the third and fourth highest ranked players in division 1 namely Julian Marlow and Helen Watts according to the latest Kettering ranking list, the duo can usually win at least 6 out of 7 sets between them to secure victory against any other team when they both play. They did exactly that against Thrapston Falcons who are now one point above them in third place. Falcons started well with Ian Baldock being the first person this season to defeat Marlow and by a 3-0 margin at that. After that Marlow won six straight ends against Anthoy Marray and Nigel Payne while Watts had to come from 2-1 behind to beat Payne but was untroubled by the other two. The pair were also tested in the doubles but came through in the deciding end 11-8 against Payne and Tyler. The Falcons trio were all too good on the night for Ivor Jones making it 6-4 to Arrows.
The player of the week is usually given to someone who does better than expected according to previous form and the obvious choice this week is Burton Baptist D's Kelvin Marshall. Having had just one win against Corby C in the previous fixture he improved that to all three this time. His best win in terms of the ranking list was over Rob Warrender who is a massive 32 places over him at 43 compared to 75. This set lasted 5 ends and 126 points due to 3 long deuce ends. Derek Muggleton at 68 ranked also did well to beat Warrender also in 5 ends by the narrowest margin of 11-9. He followed this with a 3-0 win over Keith McClaran but could not beat Stephen Woolston. Steve Smith was unlucky to come away winless after fifth end defeats to Woolston and Warrender. The two W's then combined for a five end doubles win against the two M's to earn a 5-5 draw.
Harborough Rovers relegation battle was not helped by the fact that they could only field two players against Burton Baptist C. Burton's Paul Goodman's form is suffering this season and having led Jamie Burgess 2-0 and Mark Pearson 1-0 his opponents both won the remaining ends. It was suggested that they took a game or two to fathom his pimpled bat and Pearson did particularly well winning 10-12, 11-6, 11-1, 11-2. Darryl Sutcliffe made up for the lack of a third singles set by getting maximum playing time from the other two and won them both in the decider while Chris Agg did better winning them both 3-1 before these two won the doubles 3-0 for an 8-2 win.
Westfield D 6 (Malpass 2, Alder 2, Patal 2) Harborough Rangers 4 (Brocklebank 2, Allington, Brocklebank/Burgess)
Thrapston Kites 9 (Briggs 3, Williams 3, Judd 2, Briggs/Judd) Thrapston Harriers 1 (Tyler)
Thrapston Falcons 4 (Baldock 2, Murray,Payne) Rothborough Arrows 6(Watts 3, Marlow 2, Watts/Marlow)
Corby C 5 (Woolston 2, Warrender, McLaren, Warrender/Woolston) Burton Baptist D 5 (Marshall 3, Muggleton 2
Burton Baptist 8 (Agg 3, Sutcliffe 3, Goodman, Agg/Sutcliffe) Harborough Rovers 2 (Pearson,J. Burgess)
Player of the week: Kelvin Marshall
There were hat-tricks galore in the second division this week as the winning teams:losing teams aggregate was 38:2, with all victorious teams having a player who achieved a straight game maximum. The end result means that Corby D leapfrog Kettering B into fourth in the table.
Daniel Bottrill was the straight games player for Corby, ably supported by Tom Cardwell’s first treble with a pair for Nathan Brown. Exocets’ Tony Yeomans spoiled the party by defeating Brown in the eighth game and earlier nearly beat Cardwell.
Lauren Ainsworth and Pete Rowbotham didn’t lose an end all night for Dakotas but the party pooper for them was Imps’ Ron Palfrey who defeated Cathy Fleming in the last singles, having to come from behind to do so. Special mention to David Patmore who got to deuce and beyond three times against Rowbotham but couldn’t force an end in his favour.
Although Luke Saywood and Ray Harrison matched the maximum feat of Gareth Lewis for Buccaneers it was only the latter that had a completely clean sheet, although that was tarnished a little by dropping an end in the doubles alongside Saywood versus the Woolston pair for Kettering B. Saywood lived close to the edge all night coming from behind in the first game to finish 11-9 15-13, and in his next game had to win the last three, again finishing with a deuce, against Pete Scrivener. Unlucky Alan Woolston was one up against Saywood but two up against Harrison before succumbing.
Martin Watts starred for Comets against Burton, where a 10-0 score was probably expected. All the Burton players did take ends, perhaps most impressive was young Jacob Tattersall who took one end from Alan Brisley to four then took him to deuce in the next. Ultimately it was to no avail as Brisley, Pete Sturges and the aforementioned Watts maintained their comfortable second position.
Corby D 9 (Bottrill 3, Cardwell 3, Brown 2, Bottrill/Brown) Rothborough Exocets 1 (Yeomans)
Harborough Imps 1 (Palfrey) Rothborough Dakotas 9 (L Ainsworth 3, Rowbotham 3, Fleming 2, L Ainsworth/Fleming)
Rothborough Buccaneers 10 (Harrison 3, Lewis 3, Saywood 3, Lewis/Saywood) Kettering Town B 0
Rothborough Comets 10 (Brisley 3, Sturges 3, Watts 3, Brisley/Sturges) Burton Baptist E 0
Player of the week: Ron Palfrey
K.D.T.T.L.Team of the week: Burton Baptist B