DIVISION 4 –24.02.19 – DAY 4
DARENTH E PULL CLEAR AT THE TOP AS BROMLEY COMMON C CHARGE UP THE TABLE
The penultimate meeting of Division 4 saw just eight points covering all the teams. Darenth E leading by a single point from Otford B with Darenth F two points further back on 16. Bromley Common C were two points behind with Plumstead Radical two more down on 12 with Otford C a solitary point below them. Day 4 is often crucial and usually throws up a lot of vital matches. The meeting was delayed while two teams who were a player short tried to sort things out. Peter Duke was left pondering the whereabouts of his partner Keith Young who had earlier confirmed he would be playing.
Leaders Darenth E (Karol Wolosiewicz/Richard Holmes) were scheduled to play Plumstead Radical but Duke had to start without his team mate. Wolosiewicz got past him over four games but Holmes eventually lost to him in five. Young had still not arrived by that time but when he finally got to the venue it was almost 3.30 so the players agreed amongst themselves that Young would have to forfeit his two singles but the doubles would be played as there was time to do so. Darenth took this in four so the final score was 4-1 in their favour.
Otford C had been minus Peter Clarke at the start but fortunately Mike Palmer was able to find him for their domestic derby with the B team (Ben Edmed/Richard Cowling). The B weren’t without their problems as Tony York wasn’t available and Cowling had to step in despite still recovering from a shoulder injury, not an ideal situation. It was key both teams had two players out as one was fighting for promotion whilst the other battling to avoid relegation. All the sets bar one went to four games, the closest being the opening singles between Clarke and Edmed who just about managed to hold Clarke off 12-10 in the fourth. The B built up a solid 4-0 lead and it was not until the final set that Palmer got the C on the board with a win over Edmed.
The third match was another vital one. Darenth F (Steve Fuller/Dave Field) were lying in third place but far from safe. Bromley Common C had their availability problems too and called in Terry Edwards to help Piers De Caestecker out. They were two points behind Darenth F and perilously close to the relegation zone. Bromley Common took both the opening singles although Field held match points over Edwards in the fifth before finally having to give best at 14-16. Bromley Common won the doubles but Fuller managed to put the brakes on by beating Edwards. Field initially looked comfortable being 2-0 up on De Caestecker who drew level on two all before securing the fifth for a 4-1 victory.
While Darenth E retained their solitary point lead over Otford B, there had been a change with Bromley Common C now moving ahead of Darenth F by one point. Plumstead Radical had 13 and Otford C 12.
This Round brought an upset when promotion hunters Otford B (Edmed/Cowling) took on Bromley Common C (Edwards/De Caestecker). A tremendous tussle developed right from the outset. Edmed and Edwards had a terrific duel which went the distance. Edwards led 2-1 but Edmed fought back taking the fourth 11-8 before closing it out 11-7 in the decider. Cowling was understandably holding back by now and De Caestecker made it all square. The doubles went to five with Bromley Common turning a 1-2 deficit into a five game win to lead 2-1. Edmed found De Caestecker difficult which gave Bromley Common a winning lead. Cowling recouped a 0-2 deficit to level his set with Edwards. However, Edwards made some exceptional returns to squeeze home 14-12 in the fifth giving Bromley Common a 4-1 victory. Hats off to him, he played remarkably well throughout the afternoon. This result might just be a very important one as it could affect both the promotion and relegation issues.
Success in the Plumstead Radical (Duke/Young) and Darenth F (Field/Fuller) match was crucial for both teams. The opening singles were shared. Duke managed to scramble through 14-12 in the first against Field and then went 1-2 down. Field came within an ace of defeating Duke but dropped the fourth 10-12. Duke got the better start and held on to take the set. Young found Fuller’s heavy spins problematic so that put the score level. Darenth won the doubles for a 2-1 lead. Fuller got a flyer over Duke whizzing out to a 2-0 lead. Duke found the answers to level at two games all and took the fifth to level the match again. Then it was down to Young and Field to settle the issue. Field got a 2-0 lead but Young responded to take the third. Field got the better start in the fourth and pulled through safely for a 3-2 victory for Darenth. This result could well be a key one.
Darenth E (Wolosiewicz/Holmes) were firing on all cylinders against Otford C (Clarke/Palmer) and never let them settle down. Only one set required a fourth game so it finished as a 5-0 for the leaders.
While the order in the table remained as it was after round 7, Darenth E had opened up a five point gap between themselves and Otford B. Bromley Common C had moved to within a point of Otford B while Darenth F had created a seven point cushion between themselves and Plumstead Radical on 15. Otford C remained on 12. As before, there is nothing cut and dried in this Division and Day 5 could well provide the classic Sevenoaks League style grandstand finish.