Slim pick­ings on re­turn to league ac­tion

Macclesfield Express - - TRAVEL - SQUASH GARETH EVANS

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.

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