Bolly into Divi­sion Five play-off fi­nal

Macclesfield Express - - TRAVEL - SQUASH GARETH EVANS

LO­CAL in­ter­est in the North West Coun­ties Squash League’s Divi­sion Five play-offs is set to con­tinue un­til the fi­nal stages, af­ter Bolling­ton 3 en­joyed an em­phatic 5-0 home vic­tory over City of Manch­ester 4 last Thurs­day.

Bolling­ton’s dis­ap­point­ment from the pre­vi­ous week, which had seen the club’s Sec­ond Team edged out of the end-of-sea­son com­pe­ti­tion to de­ter­mine the Fourth Divi­sion ‘cham­pi­ons of cham­pi­ons’, turned to joy as the ‘Bolly Thirds‘ saw off their last-four op­po­nents at a packed Leisure Cen­tre.

The Divi­sion Five South ti­tle-win­ners will now take on fel­low semi-fi­nal vic­tors St Annes 2 in this Satur­day’s fi­nal - at Grove Park Squash Club in Chea­dle Hulme.

Fifth Divi­sion Cen­tral cham­pi­ons City of Manch­ester, who ply their trade at the Na­tional Squash Cen­tre, had been drawn to host last Thurs­day’s tie, but it was switched to Bolling­ton be­cause of a cer­tain foot­ball ‘derby’ sched­uled for the same evening else­where on the SportCity site.

The ‘Thirds’ were able to field their first-choice side, fea­tur­ing four play­ers who had fin­ished in the top ten of the Fifth Divi­sion South in­di­vid­ual rank­ings for 2016/17, and, head­ing the team at first string, a club-mate who had re­mained un­beaten while turn­ing out for Bolling­ton sides in both Di­vi­sions Four and Five through­out the cam­paign.

The first-stringer, Tom Bin­der - pit­ted against an op­po­nent who him­self had lost only once all sea­son - and ju­nior player James Wal­ton (15) got Bolling­ton off to a per­fect start with two straightgames vic­to­ries, be­fore left-han­der Andy Phillips re­peated the feat to se­cure the over­all match.

City of Manch­ester’s ‘Fourths’ had en­joyed a dom­i­nant win­ter cam­paign - head­ing their divi­sion from the out­set with 10 con­sec­u­tive wins, be­fore romp­ing to the ti­tle some 22 points clear - but ended up on this oc­ca­sion as vic­tims of a col­lec­tive rout.

Teenage cap­tain Martin Og­den’s power and speed proved too much for his even younger op­po­nent, be­fore Gareth Ainsworth pre­vailed through a se­ries of long ral­lies – in each case with­out drop­ping a game.

“It was a fan­tas­tic team per­for­mance,” said Martin Og­den (19) af­ter­wards.

“We had our strong­est side out, so were ready for what­ever came our way. But we have to be de­lighted with how well we all played and won.

“The venue switch meant a great turnout from other club mem­bers and ju­niors, and their sup­port re­ally spurred us on.

“We have had a fan­tas­tic sea­son, and come through in a tough divi­sion. Hope­fully we can top it off by win­ning the fi­nal at the week­end.”

Bolling­ton 3 v

PLAY-OFF SEMI-FI­NAL:

City of Manch­ester 4 1. Tom Bin­der won 3-0 (15-13, 15-11, 15-2) v Matt Mar­shall. 2. Andy Phillips won 3-0 (15-11, 15-10, 15-10) v Steve Hemp­stock. 3. James Wal­ton won 3-0 (15-13, 15-7,-15-9) v Alan Pike. 4. Gareth Ainsworth won 3-0 (15-12, 15-8, 15-8) v Elaine Reed. 5. Martin Og­den won 3-0 (15-9, 15-5, 15-13) v Matt Ma­jor.

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