Race for the title blown wide open
IN the First Division of the Southport and Formby League, Crosby A (51pts) were held for the second time in as many weeks, opening up the race for top spot.
Again they were understrength, but so were their visitors Holy Trinity A.
Number one Yameen Al Dahiri led the charge for the home side with a full quota of wins, whilst Matty Cranny and Ned Hassan already with a singles win apiece, joined forces to clinch the draw in the final contest.
Second placed Crosby B travelled to the Amelan Hall to face a confident Southport A side, which so happened to be our feature match this week.
Home number one Ogi Kostov got proceedings underway against his opposite number Rhys Davies, who found his rhythm immediately, taking it in three straight.
Nothing straight about the next encounter, Kyle Lavender and Peter Ashley served up a cracker.
Peter edged ahead 10-12 in the first, before Kyle began to find his range taking the next two convincingly 11-8,11-3.
Back came Peter with some tremendous counter hitting to square it up 5-11 in the fourth.
It was much closer in the fifth, but that ‘flat hit’ again worked its magic for Peter, 9-11 to him and Crosby now had a 0-2 lead.
A no nonsense three straight win from Rhys and his dad Mark against Ogi and Mark Barnes in the first doubles, made it 0-3, and when captain Mark returned to do a repeat performance on home captain Jonny Cummins, then at 0-4, the writing on the wall was certainly looming, especially as Rhys was up next.
A super effort from Mark in the first, missing out 8-11. Rhys though was in full control thereafter, 4-11, 3-11 which made the score worryingly 0-5 Crosby.
Second doubles pairing Jonny and Kyle then gave the home side some cheer with an encouraging four game win over Peter and Francois Rafferty.
A fightback was on for sure as Ogi overcame Mark in three straight, to pull it back to 2-5.
Mark Barnes versus Francois was up next, and although Francois nicked the first 11-13, Mark’s top spin attack got much the better of his opponents’ back of the court lob defence, taking the next two 11-8, 11-6.
Exhausting to watch, but who would wilt first?
Gradually mistakes crept in, from both sides, but in the end Francois’s defence held firm, with him taking the next two 6-11, 8-11 to ensure victory for his side.
Peter then looked odds on to increase his side’s margin of victory against Jonny when he led 9-11, 8-11.
But having recovered to capture the third 11-6, Jonny now looked the favourite as he swept into a 7-1 lead in the fourth.
Peter though had other ideas and with great aplomb, his counter hit did the trick again, 10-12, and his side did now have that 2-7 advantage.
Another exhausting encounter rounded off a great night’s table tennis, Kyle and of course Crosby’s human dynamo Francois, put on a near exhibition of attack vs defence.
This time Kyle had the last word with an 8-11, 16-14, 16-14, 11-7 win, to make the final score 3-7 Crosby B.
Crosby B stay second on 47pts , as do Argyle A in third place, this after a good 8-2 home win against Crosby C.
Argyle B matched their A team’s score away to Crosby D, whilst Princes St
A came out well on top in their derby win against their B team.
A very impressive maximum win for Argyle D
(50pts) at home versus
Holy Trinity B kept them firmly in charge at the top of the Second Division, eight points ahead of rivals Argyle C, who were held in an exciting encounter at Crosby E.
Princes St E (39pts) are now in third place, having won their rearranged mini derby against their D team, who probably didn’t know what had hit them, in an 8-2 loss.
Mind you, with Martin Machin making his first start and Dave Mullan in at number one for the E team, then it was never going to be easy! With that behind them Princes St D (36pts) did stay in touch with the chasing pack, when they recovered well enough to edge past a good Waterloo A side.
Karen Gibson and then Colin Fyles winning the last two contests to clinch a 6-4 victory.
Waterloo B let a 3-0 and a 4-2 lead slip against Southport B, a full quota of wins from Tom Ray had helped the visitors to level at 4-4, before Aidan Mooney edged the home side back in front, only for Mike Rice to be Southport’s hero in the end.
Argyle E rounded off the Second Division action with a decent 7-3 success over Crosby F.
H(54pts) opened up an 18pt lead at the top of the Third Division, after a convincing win over their G team.
Remarkably, Argyle F without a match this week as well as drawing a very disappointing blank last week, are still in second place.
Last week’s conquerors Princes St F, brought in the changes, and suffered an 8-2 loss at the Para’s, who now climb to third place, also with 36pts.
Southport C (35pts) moved up to fourth place, after a convincing home win over Crosby G, whilst Crosby H had a ding dong match at home to North Meols, who had much to thank Les Rimmer for, a full quota of wins ensuring a fighting draw for the visitors.
Finally, a similar story was played out at Argyle J, where they fought back from 3-5 down to draw with Southport D.
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