Reversal of fortune boost in survival bid
LAST Thursday’s fixtures in the men’s North West Counties League yielded the usual mixed bag of results for teams from our three local squash clubs – but with a welcome reversal of fortune for some.
This was especially true in the case of the Prestbury ‘Thirds’, who gave their Division Four South survival hopes a massive boost after beating fellow strugglers Knutsford Sports 3 by the odd match in five at Bollin Grove.
Prestbury’s first victory since the opening night of the season was secured through wins for Rob Thorneycroft, Graeme English and - following the retirement of his opponent due to injury - Paul Maher. They remain in 12th, but, crucially, have reduced from 17 to a round dozen the pointsgap between their position and safety.
At the other end of the table, divisional companions Bollington 2, in third place, revived their promotion challenge, following defeat at Alsager seven nights previously, with a 5-0 home thumping of Grove Park 5.
Stuart Arnold, Olli Stewart, Mark Collins, Aldo Palazzo and Gareth Ainsworth were all victorious to put their team within three points of the runners-up position.
Another team to get back to winning ways were Prestbury 1, who stopped the rot at West Heaton 1, and are now back up to fifth in Division Two East, thanks to their first triumph of November.
Rob Alcock and brothers Mike and Brian Lomas all won, for the loss of just a single game apiece, to see the ‘Firsts’ edge home 3-2.
Elsewhere in the Second Division, Bollington’s First Team dropped into the relegation zone - albeit by just two points - after going down 4-1 at third-placed Alderley Edge 3. Rick Walters picked up a sole win of the evening for the ‘Bolly Firsts’.
In Division Three South-East, both bottomplaced Macclesfield Squash 1 and Prestbury 3, in ninth, endured nights to forget, as they suffered respective 5-0 losses at second-placed Crewe Vagrants 2 and at home to Alsager 1. Macclesfield remain without a win in the current campaign, while Prestbury, although still 21 points of the drop-zone, will be keen to arrest a losing run that now extends to four matches.
Division Five South table-toppers Prestbury 4 maintained a 100 per cent record and extended their lead at the top to 14 points after braving wintry conditions and road closures to win 5-0 at Buxton 2. Paul Minshull, Nigel Oldbury, Gareth Evans, Dave Jones and 18-year-old Matt English made sure of maximum points for the leaders.
Bollington 2’s title hopes were dealt a further blow, however, following a 4-1 defeat at home to Radbroke Hall 2. Junior player James Walton (15) won to help keep the hosts in third behind Radbroke, although they will now be looking over their shoulders at fifth-placed Macclesfield Squash 2, who gained ground with a 3-2 win at Prestbury 6.
In what was arguably the contest of the night overall, fine wins by juniors Jonny Murray (14) and Keon Raked (15) put the ‘Sixths’ in a strong position, before David Birtwistle, Simon Fisher and Ken Nicholls clinched the honours and local bragging rights for Macc.
And Prestbury’s Fifth Team proved that winning becomes a habit, when they hosted and edged out Grove Park 8.
Their 3-2 triumph, courtesy of victories for Pat Hunter, Dave Marwood and teenager Greg Stanger (17), swiftly followed the breaking by the team of its seasonal duck a week previously.
In the Cheshire Ladies’ League, three days earlier, fifth-placed Prestbury prevailed for the first time in three Second Division matches - with Jane Mackay, Fran James and Sarah Lonsdale winning in the course of a 3-2 home victory against Bowdon 3.
But Bollington’s mini-run of two wins came to an end with a 4-1 defeat, in spite of success at first string for Annika Hall, at Division Three leaders City of Manchester 2.