Westfield A took control of the race to be crowned Premier Division champions in the Kettering & District Table Tennis League when they recorded an emphatic and impressive 9-1 victory over third placed Higham.
In what was expected to be a close encounter, Higham were simply blown away by the team of Kevin Bird, Steve Silk and Roumen Stefanov.
Such was Westfield’s dominance; it is believed that the blank recorded by Richard Elliott was his first for well over a decade.
The one bright spot for Higham was Richard Bashford’s excellent straight-games win over Steve Silk, which levelled the proceedings at 1-1 after Bird had defeated Elliott to give Westfield the lead. From then on, it was all about Westfield.
There were some close encounters, none more so than when Stefanov edged out Bashford in five ends before Bird got the better of Andy Harrison at the same stage.
But the overall result was never in doubt as Westfield continue to show why they are the favourites for the title.
Burton Baptist A are in hot pursuit of Westfield but dropped two points to Westfield B to find themselves trailing the leaders by six.
Dawid Przybysz was again the main attraction and he duly extended his seasonal unbeaten run to 24 matches.
Alex Aston picked up two wins, coming back from 10-8 down in the decider to defeat Sam Wildman 15-13 before gaining a comprehensive victory over Matt Rushton but Nicole Bird proved too consistent for Aston’s complex gameplay.
Wildman recovered from his loss against Aston to defeat Dariusz Gulbicki for Westfield’s other point.
The next round of league fixtures see Burton A travelling to face Westfield A with Burton knowing that a defeat will leave their opponents with one hand on the trophy with half the season still to play.
Corby Town B picked up their second win of the season with a 7-3 win against bottom markers Thrapston Eagles.
Kyle Murie, Henry Arthur and Aaron Moore all won twice with Murie and Moore adding the doubles.
Mark Stockley won twice and Ian Donaldson once for Eagles as Corby eased themselves away from the relegation zone and are now nine points ahead of second from bottom Burton Baptist B.
Burton B were unfortunate to find themselves up against a confident Kettering Town A outfit and were on the wrong end of a 10-0 whitewash.
The only point that looked likely to slip out of Kettering’s grasp was when Nigel Metcalfe played Jacek Koltuniuk in the first rubber of the night.
Koltuniuk opened up a 2-0 lead but Metcalfe then found his form to hit back and win 8-11, 2-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-9.
Kettering now find themselves in a three-way battle for third place with Higham and Corby Town A their rivals, whereas Burton face a long battle to avoid relegation.
Harborough Athletic were given a late reprieve following relegation last year but this season they will ensure that it is their performances on the table that will keep them in the top flight.
Although they lost their latest fixture 7-3 to Corby Town A, the two wins for Nathan Thompson and single success from Barry Thompson dented Corby’s hopes of a top-three finish and pushed themselves further away from the relegation zone.
In the mid-table clash between Arthingworth and Westfield C, Nicole Bird took the individual honours with a hat-trick plus a doubles win in tandem with Scott Dixon.
Tom Wildman made his seasonal debut for Westfield but left empty-handed which was the same fate that the upgraded Dixon suffered too.
Chris Gibbons, Ray Kingston and Gerald Henson all won twice but could not find a way to defeat Bird and Arthingworth recorded a 6-4 win.
Results: Higham 1 (Bashford) Westfield A 9 (K Bird 3, Stefanov 3, Silk 2, Bird/Stefanov), Burton Baptist A 8 (Przybysz 3, Aston 2, Gulbicki 2, Aston/Przybysz) Westfield B 2 (S Wildman, N Bird), Kettering Town A 10 (Metcalfe 3, Fuller 3, Hawes 3, Hawes/Fuller) Burton Baptist B 0, Harborough Athletic 3 (N Thompson 2, B Thompson) Corby Town A 7 (Haynes 3, O’Boyle 2, Arthur, Haynes/Arthur), Thrapston Eagles 3 (Stockley 2, Donaldson) Corby Town B 7 (Murie 2, Arthur 2, Moore 2, Murie/Moore), Arthingworth 6 (Gibbons 2, Henson 2, Kingston 2) Westfield C 4 (N Bird 3, Bird/Dixon).
Player of the week: Roumen Stefanov.
For the second time in two weeks Sam Burgess played up for Harborough Rangers in Division One in place of Steve Crook.
And, also for the second time in two weeks, he played against his club colleagues and relegation rivals, Harborough Diamonds having played for his own team Harborough Rovers against them the week before.
And for the third time in two weeks he scored a treble, thus inflicting maximum damage on them which helps his own team’s chances of avoiding the drop.
Also it was the second week running that Rangers won 10-0 which increased their lead at the top to five points.
This match was far closer than the 10-0 scoreline suggest though.
Out of the 36 ends played, Diamonds scored eight or more points in 20 of them but the fact they only won six of these 20 and didn’t get three of these six ends in the same set means that they were unfortunate to come away with no points.
Vaughan Allington got the closest, losing 11-8 in the fifth end to Mike Brocklebank. Liam Burnham won the easiest treble just losing one end to Dave Coombes. Thrapston Kites did nearly as well as Rangers and are just five points behind them in second place following a 9-1 win over Harborough Rovers.
Jamie Burgess, possibly inspired by his brother Sam’s recent success produced one of the shocks of the season in beating Peter Briggs 3-1.
Although there was another seven ends going to Rovers they could not win any more sets but they can be happy that Jamie Burgess’ one win has put them one point above Diamonds.
Ivor Jones returned from his break for Rothborough Arrows and appeared to be out of practice, making a slow start against Kelvin Marshall before losing 3-1, then went 2-0 up on Brett Owen but couldn’t get one of the next three ends and again won the first end against Steve Smith before losing 3-1.
As usual Julian Marlow was Mr Consistency and didn’t lose an end, despite several going close and Helen Watts did almost as well just losing one end to Owen.
Marlow and Watts then dominated the doubles to make it 7-3 to put them in third place and seven points off the top
Fourth-placed Thrapston Falcons are 11 points behind Rangers and they had two substitute players with Ian Donaldson being allowed to stand in for Antony Marray because he is ranked below him and his hard-fought treble provided the backbone of their 7-3 win over Burton Baptist C.
He had to fight back from 2-0 down against David Simmons before winning 11-8 in the fifth before another fifth-end win over Chris Agg this time 11-3 and then a 3-1 victory over Paul Goodman.
Regular Falcon Nigel Payne scored a brace but couldn’t quite get over the line against Simmons, losing 13-11 in the decider.
Alan Tyler won 3-1 against Agg who was suffering bad back pain. Despite Donaldson’s treble he didn’t play in the doubles but Tyler and Payne won with ease 3-0.
Corby C and Westfield D were two well-matched teams and the notable thing in this match was Corby’s Stephen Woolston’s propensity for fifth-end cliffhangers.
He first beat Nitin Patel 12-10 in the fifth and then Scott Dixon 15-13 in the decider.
That win put Corby 5-1 up with Westfield facing only their second defeat of the season but Westfield have a habit of snatching a draw from the hands of either defeat or victory.
Patel started the comeback with his only win of the night after also losing to Rob Warrender in five ends.
Patel was then the only player to win 3-0 in singles when his victim was Keith McClaran before Paul Malpass beat Woolston 12-10 in the fifth and then Scott Dixon had a good 3-1 win over Warrender to ensure that nobody went unbeaten.
Dixon and Malpass completed the comeback with a 3-0 doubles win over Woolston and Warrender.
The league table becomes more meaningful when all teams have played each other once which will be the case at the Christmas break in two weeks.
The top two teams Harborough Rangers and Thrapston Kites have the toughest run in having to play each other next followed by the other two top-four teams Rothborough Arrows and Thrapston Falcons while Arrows and Falcons will hope to catch up when they play Harboroughs Diamonds and Rovers.
Rangers will probably be top at Christmas though if they can get about 10 points or more from their next two fixtures.
Results: Harborough Diamonds 0 Harborough Rangers 10 (Burnham 3, Brocklebank 3, S. Burgess 3, Burnham/Brocklebank), Thrapson Kites 9 (Williams 3, Judd 3, Briggs 2, Judd/Williams) Harborough Rovers 1 (J Burgess), Burton Baptist D 3 (Smith, Marshall, Owen) Rothborough Arrows 7 (Marlow 3, Watts 3, Marlow/Watts), Thrapston Falcons 7 (Donaldson 3, Payne 2, Tyler, Tyler/Payne) Burton Baptist 3 (Simmons 2, Goodman), Corby C 5 (Warrender 2, Woolston 2, McLaren) Westfield D (Dixon 2, Patal, Malpass, Malpass/Dixon).
Player of the week: Jamie Burgess.
Corby D’s Dan Bottrill (ranked 104) is quietly accumulating some impressive scalps in Division Two.
On this occasion he beat Gareth Lewis (91) and Luke Saywood (79) , avenging earlier defeats, and nearly beat Tom Ravenscroft (70) in an 8-2 defeat to Buccaneers 2-8.
Saywood and Lewis, on his return from injury, both got two and Ravenscroft maintained his unbeaten campaign.
Bottrill won all of Corby’s points when they lost to the experience and guile of Kettering Town B, therefore being the only maximum man on show on the night.
He has now won more than half of Corby’s singles points this season.
Otherwise Jim Chatburn, Ann Woolston and, making his seasonal debut, Barry Davis, won a pair each and in the process put daylight between the teams in the table.
Burton hosted Dakotas hoping to improve on their previous 8-2 loss but lost the first eight games.
They then rallied with a victory by Harry Lade over Cathy Fleming and their sixth win in doubles in nine matches, these making up a quarter of their points total so far, so ensuring parity with their previous score.
Earlier, Bryan Lade was unfortunate on the wrong end of 14-16 and 16-18 defeats.
Lauren Ainsworth got her first hat-trick of the season and Pete Rowbotham his third, leaving Dakotas secure in third place.
There was no surprise when joint-top met bottom at Montsaye.
In fact, the only end that went to Imps was in the doubles and only four ends went to deuce.
For Buccaneers, the unbeaten records of Ray Harrison and Tom Ravenscroft weren’t under threat and Gareth Lewis also secured his first hat-trick. But it wasn’t a good fixture for John Carpenter to break his seasonal duck.
With Helmut Salander preventing Comets from their own whitewash, Buccaneers now are top on their own.
Salander repeated his feat of being the only success for Exocets in defeating Pete Sturges after deuce in the fifth and took Kelvin Linnett the distance too.
Linnett also needed the full time to beat Tony Yeomans but, in the end, secured his third maximum.
He then teamed up with Martin Watts who had earlier strolled through his singles for his sixth treble from seven starts.
Results: Burton Baptist E 2 (H Lade, H Lade/Tattersall) Rothborough Dakotas 8 (L Ainsworth 3, Rowbotham 3, Fleming 2), Corby D 2 (Bottrill 2) Rothborough Buccaneers 8 (Ravenscroft 3, Lewis 2, Saywood 2, Lewis/Ravenscroft), Kettering Town B 7 (Chatburn 2, Davis 2, An Woolston 2, Chatburn/An Woolston) Corby D 3 (Bottrill 3), Rothborough Buccaneers 10 (Harrison 3, Lewis 3, Ravenscroft 3, Harrison/Ravenscroft) Harborough Imps 0.
Player of the week: Dan Bottrill.
Team of the week: Harborough Rangers.