Slim pickings on return to league action
THE resumption of North West Counties League fixtures last Thursday, following a week’s break for half-term, brought mixed fortunes for the men’s teams from clubs in and around our town.
There were no winners at all in Divisions Two East and Three South-East - although Second Division Prestbury 1, in sixth place, came commendably close at home to beating Warrington 2, sitting two positions further up.
Brothers Mike and Brian Lomas both secured 3-1 wins for the ‘Firsts’ – albeit ultimately in vain, as their visitors edged home by the odd game in five.
Divisional companions Bollington 1 travelled to second-placed Bowdon 2, and remain ninth, with a 14-point cushion above the drop-zone, following a 4-1 defeat. Chris Ogden Senior achieved the evening’s consolation victory.
Both Third Division sides were on the road, but returned home with little reward after 5-0 reverses against higherplaced hosts. Prestbury 2’s long trek to play Tollgate in Stoke-on-Trent was made all the more miserable by an injury to Mike Brauckmann, whose torn calf muscle is likely to rule him out for much of the season’s remainder.
The ‘Seconds’ drop a place to eighth, but are effectively safe from any threat of relegation. By contrast, the fate of still-winless Macclesfield Squash 1, whose latest defeat was rather closer to home at Grove Park 3, appears well and truly sealed - with almost 80 points now separating the basement side and safety.
Macclesfield may well be swapping places for 2017/18 with Bollington 2, whose impressive Division Four South campaign continued courtesy of a 4-1 triumph at Sandbach. Stuart Arnold, Mark Collins, Malcolm Kendrick and Tom Binder all won to make it five victories in a row for their team, which still occupies the second of the two promotion slots.
The ‘Bolly Seconds’ are now ten points ahead of third-placed Radbroke Hall 1, who acted as hosts at Bollin Grove to ‘landlords’ Prestbury 3. Despite a win for in-form Nick Barker, the Third Team lost 4-1 - but all four other players picked up valuable points in the course of defeat to nudge the side up one place to 11th and only eight points away from safety.
The Division Five South promotion race continues to intrigue, with two local teams among those contesting the title.
Prestbury 4 sit 12 points clear at the top, but were given an almighty scare by the club’s Sixth Team - for whom juniors Jonny Murray (15) and Keon Raked (16) both won in fine style - before Paul Wilson, Dave Jones and (in a deciding match against departing ‘Sixths’ captain Ash Hanson) Gareth Evans saw the ‘Fourths’ home 3-2.
Bollington 3 remain well placed in third, and with a match in hand, after travelling down to Buxton 2 and demolishing their hosts 5-0. Andy Phillips, Gareth Ainsworth and Martin Ogden, together with junior players James Walton (15) and George Lomas (12), ensured the collective rout.
Macclesfield Leisure Centre provided the setting for a ‘derby’, as Macc’s Second Team received Prestbury 5. But a strong visiting side proved too much for the seventh-placed hosts, as Rupert Richards, Bauke van der Ploeg, Paul Minshull, Phil Colville and 17-year-old Greg Stanger ensured a 5-0 victory that takes the ‘Fifths’ up one position to fifth.
The last two Mondays of February saw Bollington and Prestbury in Cheshire Ladies League action, with a pair of victories apiece. Second Division Prestbury rocket up two places to fourth, following 5-0 wins at home against Northern Crosby 2 and away to Bowdon 3. Jane Mackay, Fran James, Linda Maher and Sarah Lonsdale were victorious on both occasions, while a fifth-string walkover in the Crosby match and Judy Scorer’s triumph at Bowdon completed two maximum-points hauls.
Bollington, meanwhile, stay fourth in Division Three – having been handed a match by default when Marple failed to raise a team, and subsequently won 3-2 at Warrington 2, thanks to wins by Annika Hall, Louise Goodhind and June White.