Bolly into Division Five play-off final
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
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.