Kettering Town A reduced Westfield A’s lead to just one point with a 6-4 win as second met top in the Premier Division of the Kettering & District Table Tennis League.
John Fuller was, yet again, the maximum man for Town as he produced a comfortable hat-trick to see his side home.
He was ably assisted by Shandor Czuczor who bagged a brace, and would have also matched Fuller’s feat has it not been for the heroics of Kevin Bird.
Bird, Steve Silk and Roumen Stefanov all combined for four points but Fuller and Nigel Metcalfe sealed the match-winning doubles for Town.
Overachieving Westfield B played out an entertaining 5-5 draw with Higham to maintain third place by virtue of games played.
It could have been a comfortable win for Westfield but for Mick Allsopp’s treble, the veteran claiming three vital wins.
Sam Wildman maintained his hoodoo over Richard Elliott while also beating Richard Bashford, with Dan Smalley chipping in with his first-ever wins over the Higham pair.
Rothborough Arrows look consigned to relegation as they lost their six-pointer with Burton Baptist B 8-2.
Martin Hall and Jacek Koltuniuk were both on the treble trail, with Arrows’ only points coming from Martin and Helen Watts with wins over Asif Manji.
The scoreline was perhaps harsh on the visitors, who lost out in the deciding end on three occasions, but they now sit 17 points from safety.
Despite their crushing win, Baptist B are still only four points clear of Harborough A in the drop zone after Harborough beat a weakened Corby Smash 7-3.
Smash were missing key player Tony West and Harborough duly took advantage as Barry Thompson, Nathan Thompson and Mike Brocklebank all picked up two wins.
Barry Thompson almost claimed up the shock win of the season as he led an unbeaten Colin Wilson 2-1, but the wily Wilson fought back to win 3-2.
Corby A took the bragging rights as they beat their B team counterparts 6-4.
Chris Haynes stole the headlines with a fine maximum and was aided by Kyle Murie’s brace, before the pair teamed up to take the doubles.
For Corby B, Henry Arthur, Chris Robertson and the returning Rob Warrander combined for four singles wins.
Results: Kettering Town A 6 (Fuller 3, Czuczor 2, Fuller/Metcalfe) Westfield A 4 (K Bird 2, Silk, Stefanov), Westfield B 5 (Wildman 2, Smalley 2, Bailey) Higham 5 (Allsopp 3, Elliott, Elliott/Bashford), Burton Baptist B 8 (Hall 3, Koltuniuk 3, Manji, Hall/Koltuniuk) Rothborough Arrows 2 (M Watts, H Watts), Harborough A 7 (B Thompson 2, N Thompson 2, Brocklebank 2, Thompson/Thompson) Corby Smash 3 (C Wilson 3), Corby B 4 (Arthur 2, Warrander, Robertson) Corby A 6 (Haynes 3, Murie 2, Haynes/Murie).
Team of the week: Kettering Town A.
Player of the week: John Fuller.
A crucial top of the table clash in Division One saw first and second go head to head as Thrapston Eagles took on Westfield C, who were leading their opponents by one point.
But Eagles claimed a 7-3 victory to move three points clear as they see a return to the Premier Division.
Incredibly the match contained seven sets that required a deciding game with six of them going to Eagles.
Both Chris Warliker and Paul Malpass had deciders in all three singles and the other four players - Steve West, Mark Stockley, Nitin Patel and Scott Dixon - all had two.
Stockley got the only treble while Warliker and West had braces, losing to Dixon and Patel respectively.
Third-placed Harborough B made some ground on the leaders with a 9-1 success over two-man Corby C.
Liam Burnham and Mike Brocklebank were both unbeaten and Steve Crook had a good win over Rob Warrander but could not beat Stephen Woolston.
Another match between neighbours in the table produced another encounter with lots of close sets.
Thrapston’s Kites and Falcons produced five sets going to a decider.
Three of these were won by Falcons but Kites claimed the match 6-4, reducing the gap between the teams to seven points with Stewart Williams’ treble being his best performance of the season so far.
He was helped by Peter Briggs who got a brace as he beat Antony Marray and Alan Tyler and Geoff Judd with a single win over Tyler.
The relegation battle between Rothborough Buccaneers and Harborough D became more interesting following a notable selection from the later and a notable de-selection from the former.
Rhys Emery is one of best players in the division and when he plays for second to bottom Harborough D they are considerably stronger and their relegation chances may well depend largely on how much he plays.
He cruised to an easy treble against Harborough C for the loss of one game to Sam Burgess.
Phil Dixon and Vaughan Allington both beat Mark Pearson and lost to both Burgess brothers while the siblings claimed the doubles against Emery and Dixon for a 5-5 draw.
Buccaneers surprisingly dropped Sean Smith, who is their number one player both in ranking and in averages this season, against Burton Baptist C.
Jacob Tattersall played in his first-ever Division One match for Burton C and acquitted himself well with a 3-0 win over Ivor Jones.
He also had a match point against Gareth Lewis before losing in five and won the first game against Luke Saywood before losing the next three easily.
Saywood also had a good win over Paul Goodman who got a brace.
Kelvin Marshall was the maximum man for Burton C and added the doubles with Goodman for a 7-3 win for Burton C.
Harborough D have narrowed the gap to four points below Buccaneers and their match against each other this week will be crucial.
Following their promotion last season, Rothborough Comets have had a torrid time in this campaign with just 14 points coming from their first 13 matches, but they had their best result by far with a 5-5 draw against mid-table Burton Baptist D.
Both Lauren Ainsworth and Kelvin Linnett got braces and the latter was within two points of a treble.
Derek Muggleton seems to like to get value for money with his table tennis as he usually plays all five games.
This time he beat Linnett 12-10 in the fifth and lost 11-6 to Ainsworth in the fifth but he beat Peter Sturges in four.
Ainsworth and Linnett both beat Chris Agg and Linnett also beat Steve Smith.
Ainsworth and Linnett then won the doubles against Muggleton and Agg to complete a comeback from 4-1 down to 5-5.
Despite this result Comets are still 19 points adrift from Harborough D so will probably need results like this nearly every week to have any chance of catching them.
Results: Thrapston Eagles 7 (Stockley 3, Warliker 2, West 2) Westfield C 3 (Patel, Dixon, Malpass/Dixon), Harborough B 9 (Burnham 3, Brocklebank 3, Crook 2, Burnham/Brocklebank) Corby C 1 (Woolston), Thrapston Kites 6 (Williams 3, Briggs 2, Judd) Thrapston Falcons 4 (Baldock 2, Marray, Baldock/Tyler), Harborough D 5 (Emery 3, Dixon, Allington) Harborough C 5 (S Burgess 2, J Burgess 2, S Burgess/J Burgess), Burton Baptist C 7 (Marshall 3, Goodman 2, Tattersall, Marshall/Goodman) Rothborough Buccaneers 3 (Saywood 2, Lewis), Rothborough Comets 5 (Ainsworth 2, Linnett 2, Ainsworth/Linnett) Burton Baptist D 5 (Smith 2, Muggleton 2, Agg).
Team of the week: Rothborough Comets.
Players of the week: Stewart Williams, Lauren Ainsworth and Kelvin Linnett.
When the top two in Division Two met in week seven, Burton Baptist Team Jim were leading Rothborough Dakotas by one point and extended their lead with a 9-1 victory.
This time, with the only change for either team being David Steele for Pete Rowbotham, they met with Dakotas in the lead by two points and their 6-4 victory reversed that result and extends their advantage.
Considering Dakotas had a storming start to go 5-0 up, the final result was close as the match had been all the way through.
Six games had deuce ends, only one singles game was not decided by the narrowest two points in the last end.
The longer the games went on the more likely Dakotas were to win as only one singles that went beyond three ends was won by Team Jim.
This meant that Dakotas won all fifth-end games, with Steele unbeaten for another fine treble, but Bryan Lade, who only won one, was within four points of a maximum himself.
Tony Yeomans did a Lade double and Cathy Fleming beat Jon Sanders.
Team Jim are also the second best doubles team and that again squeezed out an extra point.
As this week marks the end of the second round of matches it may be the third match that decides the league champions at the end of the season.
Old Village recorded their first draw against Harborough E - who drew their second in succession - and Old did it with a completely different team from the first encounter and improved the result from 7-3 previously, however needed the last two games to do it.
Mike Burrows returned to winning ways with a maximum but Ben Baker and Ron Palfrey got two for Harborough, and Ian Lauder got his first of the season.
For Old, Richard Dybal won his second of the season and Charlie Poppy assisted Burrows in the longest game of the night to ensure equality.
Up until last week there had only been one whitewash in the league this season, but there were two in the space of seven days, when Westfield D and Rothborough Exocets succumbed to Kettering B and Corby D respectively.
It was Westfield’s second in three weeks as Sidney Wright, Evie Elliott and Bronwen Grigg couldn’t trouble Jim Chatburn, Barry Davis and Ann Woolston, although Elliott nearly came from two down to beat Woolston and Wright lost a close five-ender to Davis.
It was Davis’ second treble, both against the same opposition, and Chatburn’s third, and Woolston gained revenge for losses to both Elliott and Wright last time out.
Corby are creeping up the table and improving all the time.
After the first third of the season they had scored 41 points and sat fourth. In the second third they have scored 49 points and are second, and with five players in the top nine averages of regular players in Division Two they should continue that upward momentum.
This week it was Ken Knott, Tom Cardwell and John Hunt who did the business and were unrelenting on Exocets.
David Marshall came closest when he was just edged out by Hunt after being 2-1 ahead, and also nearly got a doubles point paired with Sally Taylor but again Hunt and Knott came from behind to ensure a maximum yield for the Kingswood outfit.
Results: Corby D 10 (Cardwell 3, Hunt 3, Knott 3, Hunt/Knott) Rothborough Exocets 0, Old Village 5 (Burrows 3, Dybal, Burrows/Poppy) Harborough E 5 (Baker 2, Palfrey 2, Lauder), Rothborough Dakotas 6 (Steele 3, Yeomans 2, Fleming) Burton Baptist Team Jim 4 (B Lade, H Lade, Sanders, H Lade/Sanders), Westfield D 0 Kettering B 10 (Chatburn 3, Davis 3, An Woolston 3, Chatburn/An Woolston).
Player of the week: Anthony Yeomans.
Team of the week: Rothborough Dakotas.