DIVISION 4 – 03.12.17 – DAY 3
MAJOR SHAKE UP SEES CLEEVE PARK SHARING THE LEAD WITH SOUTH CROYDON B.
Division 4 is one of the closest in the League this season with just eight points covering all the teams after four rounds of matches. Cleeve Park have a narrow two point lead over Darenth F and South Croydon B on 12 with Halstead B on nine, Darenth G on seven and Otford B on six.
There were some very long matches in this round. One such was that between Cleeve Park (Bryan Taylor/Vladimir Shadrunov) and South Croydon B (Gaurav Narang/Sam Porter). Both the opening sets went to five games and were shared. Taylor worked his way into a 2-1 lead before Narang managed to level. Narang made a solid start to the fifth and Taylor was not able to get back on terms with him. The Shadrunov/Porter set was no less keenly contested 9-11, 12-10, 11-5, 8-11, 11-9 to Shadrunov gives a clue. South Croydon took the lead through taking the doubles 12-10, 13-11, 12-10 and Porter made it a winning one with a four game win over Taylor. Shadrunov kept the final score to 2-3 by defeating Narang in straight games.
There was a titanic battle between the two bottom placed teams, Darenth G (Dave Field/Paul Lipscombe) and Otford B (Jon Corser/Sarah Maris), lots of long rallies and lengthy games to boot. Field got the better of Corser 11-9 in the fifth and Maris, after losing the first game, took full advantage of a sideslip by Lipscombe which didn’t aid his cause. The doubles went the distance to Darenth which put them ahead. Otford bounced back though taking both the reverse singles for a 3-2 victory.
Halstead B were in difficulty getting out a team and stalwarts Mike Sefton and Robin Symonds came to their rescue against Darenth F (Joseph Gillhouley/Richard Holmes). Sefton made a good start for Halstead by defeating Gillhouley in four while Holmes replied for Darenth with a straight games win over Symonds. Halstead held firm in the doubles taking the third game 14-12 after dropping the first and then held on to take the fourth 13-11. The Darenth boys got to work in the reverse singles and won both those for a 3-2 victory.
After five rounds Darenth F and South Croydon on 15 had therefore closed to within a point of Cleeve Park, now on 16 points. Halstead B had 11 with Darenth G and Otford B level on nine points each so just seven points covered every team. Round 6 brings with it the first of the return matches and there was a lot at stake.
There was a top of the table tussle between Darenth F (Gillhouley/Holmes) and Cleeve Park (Taylor/Shadrunov) where three sets required a deciding game, and another went to four games. It was one of the best matches of the day. There was certainly some spectacular attacking and defence when Holmes took on Taylor, Holmes roaring through the first and third games with Taylor who managed to keep him out to level at two all. Taylor pulled away steadily in the fifth to secure it 11-7. The Gillhouley/Shadrunov set was no less interesting. In truth Gillhouley might have taken this in four as he narrowly lost the second 11-13 before taking the third 14-12 and fourth 11-8. Shadrunov served better in the fifth and his strong topspin got him through 11-6 for a 2-0 lead. Darenth got on the board by taking the doubles which was followed by yet another fine set between Holmes and Shadrunov. Holmes made the pace to take the first two games but Shadrunov regrouped and turned it around in five. Gillhouley had learned from Holmes not to go too hard at Taylor in the closing set and kept tight control of the pace which suited him. It paid off and it finished as a 3-2 to Cleeve Park.
There was another fine match between South Croydon B (Porter/Narang) and Otford B (Corser/Maris) where Otford were hoping to move up the table. There were some very long and keenly contested sets here. Two sets went the distance and all the others needed a fourth game. Porter got past Corser in four after dropping the second when Corser hit top gear while Narang and Maris had a titanic battle. Maris took the first game 11-7 and the second 12-10 but Narang regrouped and recovered to two games all. It was so close in the decider and could have gone either way but went to Narang 12-10 making it a 2-0 lead for South Croydon. In the doubles Otford began by taking the first before dropping the second. They zoomed away with the third and seemed to have it all worked out. However, South Croydon stuck to their task, took the fourth 12-10 and then the fifth by the same score. Otford got on the board when Maris got past Porter in four, racing away with the final game after dropping the first. Corser took the third game from Narang but had to give best in the end so it finished as 4-1 in favour of South Croydon.
Halstead B (Sefton/Symonds) were only two points ahead of Darenth G (Field/Lipscombe) so a big win for either would be an enormous benefit. Field got Darenth off to a good start by defeating Sefton in four games while Symonds replied for Halstead beating Lipscombe also in four. Halstead joyfully took the first game of the doubles 18-16 but once Darenth got their heads round their task they pulled away to a four game victory. Sefton got off to a flyer against Lipscombe who likes to defend but was prepared to attack more thereafter to win in four games. Field wrapped it up with a straight games win over Symonds to make it 4-1 in his team’s favour. Joy for Darenth but disappointment for Halstead.
At the end of play, there had been a major shake up in the table. Cleeve Park were still top but now joint leaders with South Croydon B. Darenth F were in third on 17 with Darenth G moving up to fourth on 13. Halstead B were on 12 points and Otford B had closed up on 10. So, there are now nine points covering all the teams. No one will be counting their chickens just yet and even a slightly off day could see a few roosters being knocked off their perches.