Division 1 this week saw a mixed bag of two whitewashes and two very close victories. Cramlington Stingers’ Dale Aitkenhead, Marc Cotton and Steven Penman beat an Old England line-up of Jake Helm, Lynne Herrington and Alan Atkinson 10-0. Cotton versus Herrington went to five ends, as did Penman versus Atkinson, but neither match really looked in doubt. Aitkenhead won the Player of the Match award for losing the fewest ends.
On the same night, Cramlington Casuals helped themselves to a shock defeat as they beat St Chads 6-4. Paul Jamieson, playing up from Division 2, found himself first on against veteran long pimples defender Jimmy Scope. Jamieson went 2-0 up with relative ease before the exertions of a veteran’s tournament the weekend earlier saw Scope concede the match and retire from the rest of the evening. Chads’ Chris Blake won Player of the Match as he showed a class above his opponents but Rob Reed and James Bradbury both did well to beat David Bissett. Bissett had a close game with Jamieson, winning 13-11 in the deciding end, but it wasn’t enough as Reed and Bradbury combined to win the doubles 3-1 and give the Casuals the overall victory.
Despite having a large squad and only two teams, Prudhoe United Services A find themselves having difficulty fielding a team at the moment. Shirley Gelder and Maurice Cheek are unable to play any more games for the ‘A’ team as doing so will render them ineligible to play for the ‘B’ side in Division 3. John Williamson recently sustained a broken wrist in a match at Cramlington and Geoff Salter has only been able to play a single evening so far this season. Combined with some bad timing for Andy Benjamin who was moving house on the same day, Prudhoe were only able to field two players when they hosted Mount A this week. Mount were in a similar situation with Jamie Dent and Dan Dodds playing up from their ‘B’ team but Prudhoe, due to having only two players, were unable to capitalise. In the end, both Dent and Dodds played incredibly well and came home with two solid victories against the home side’s Mark O’Connor and Peter Stempczyk. Mount’s regular first teamer Duncan Wraight took Player of the Match as he beat both opponents without dropping an end, and combined well with Dan Dodds to win the doubles and complete the 10-0 rout.
Mount’s B team also did well the following day when they beat visitors Brandon Air 6-4. Brandon’s Jamie Lupton won Player of the Match when he won all three of his matches but Rodney Roberts and Jamie Dent did well to beat both Lee Tinkler and Troy Maddison. The home side’s David Cutler also beat Maddison but lost out to Tinkler. The real story in this match however was the doubles where Roberts and Cutler faced Lupton and Tinkler, eventually winning 18-16 in the deciding fifth end. Every single end was close and it was this match which sealed the victory for the home team, once again showing just how important the doubles can be in local league.
As things stand, Cramlington Stingers are running away with the Division 1 title. They find themselves 22 points ahead of second-placed St Chads though Chads do have a game in hand. Mount A are in third place but have played all 11 matches already. Below third place, there’s a real battle between fourth and seventh as only 19 points separate those positions. Mount B find themselves languishing in the first relegation spot, 2 points and a match ahead of Prudhoe United Services A. Old England are bottom on just 18 points and it looks like they won’t be able to remain promoted at this point unless something significantly changes in their favour over the next few fixtures.