Westfield A have been crowned the new champions of the Kettering & District Table Tennis League Premier Division following their 9-1 win Thrapston SAS, in a match that also confirmed relegation back to Division One for their opponents.
Steve Silk recorded his 15th hat-trick from 17 appearances and Roumen Stefanov also remained unbeaten on the night. Sam Wildman stepped in to the side in place of team captain and club chairman Kevin Bird and he picked up two wins but lost out to Chris Warliker.
With one match left to play, Westfield have a 100 per cent win record and will look to complete an unbeaten season when they take on their Westfield B club colleagues in the next round of fixtures.
For the first time in several weeks, Harborough Athletic fielded a full-strength side and gained their first win in seven matches as they beat an Arthingworth team featuring just two players.
Both Barry Thompson and Mick Allsopp were unbeaten on the night with wins over Gerald Henson and Chris Gibbons. Gibbons and Henson both got on the scoreboard with wins over Kevin Shield and, although Gibbons and Henson’s battling five-set win over Thompson/Allsopp reduced the arrears, it couldn’t prevent Athletic from recording a 7-3 win.
Burton Baptist B hosted Thrapston Eagles in the proverbial ‘six-pointer’ relegation battle and it was the home side that emerged victorious with a 7-3 success.
Jacek Koltuiniuk was the star of the show with a hat-trick and a doubles win in tandem with the returning Asif Manji. After the first six matches, the score was tied at 3-3 but wins for Koltuniuk, Gerry Crasto and Manji over Warliker, Valdi Papiernik and Ian Donaldson eased Baptist to the win which was confirmed when Manji and Koltuniuk took the doubles to leave Eagles staring into the abyss of relegation.
Corby Town A continue to falter as the end of the season draws closer and they were held to a 5-5 draw by a Kettering Town A side that again had just two players.
John Fuller lost twice in the reverse fixture but there was no stopping him this time as he won all his matches in straight games. Mike Hawes lost to Lee O’Boyle and was unlucky to go down 11-5, 8-11, 10-12, 16-14, 9-11 to Aiden Smith but did get the better of Henry Arthur.
Kettering made sure of the draw when Fuller/Hawes just edged out Smith/O’Boyle 12-10 in the decider.
Results: Westfield A 9 (Stefanov 3, Silk 3, S Wildman 2, Stefanov/Wildman) Thrapston SAS 1 (Warliker), Harborough Athletic 7 (Thompson 3, Allsopp 3, Shield) Arthingworth 3 (Henson, Gibbons, Henson/Gibbons), Burton Baptist B 7 (Koltuniuk 3, Manji 2, Crasto, Koltuniuk/Manji) Thraspton Eagles 3 (Papiernik, Warliker, Donaldson), Corby Town A 5 (O’Boyle 2, Smith 2, Arthur) Kettering Town A 5 (Fuller 3, Hawes, Fuller/Hawes).
The big match in Division One saw unbeaten leaders Westfield C take on an improving Corby Town C side that includes the division’s top player in Chris Haynes.
Haynes had not lost since November but knew he would be in for a tough match when he played Nicole Bird in the first match of the night. Bird lost the first end 11-2 but fought back to take the next three 12-10, 13-11, 12-10 to give Westfield the perfect start and Tom Wildman then saw off Ryan Cassidy 3-0 to extend the lead.
Kyle Murie got Corby on the scoreboard with a win over Nitin Patel before Haynes levelled the match when he saw off Wildman. Bird then returned to the table to defeat Murie and put her side 3-2 ahead, but things then started to go wrong for the leaders.
Cassidy secured a clear-cut win over Patel and Murie recorded an excellent win in five ends over Wildman. Haynes put Corby 5-3 ahead with a success over Patel to leave Westfield on the verge of their first defeat.
Bird reduced the deficit and completed her hat-trick when she defeated Cassidy to leave the match in the balance with the doubles to play. The Haynes/Murie doubles partnership are unbeaten this season and they proved too good a pairing for Bird/Wildman and saw them off in four ends to complete a 6-4 win for the Corby side and, in the process, give a huge helping hand to their Corby Town B colleagues in their own fight with Westfield C for the title.
With Westfield C losing, Corby B had added incentive to get a good result against Thrapston Falcons and their cause was helped when Falcons turned up at Kingswood with only two players.
Rob Warrander and Aaron Moore were both undefeated, although Moore was taken to a fifth end by Nigel Payne as Corby ran out 8-2 victors with Payne and Alan Tyler both defeating Stephen Woolston for Falcons’ points.
Harborough Rangers remain in third place courtesy of a 6-4 win over Harborough Diamonds. James Allington, Vaughan Allington and Mike Brocklebank all won twice for Rangers.
Liam Burnham won twice for Diamonds and John McGowan recorded an excellent win over the younger Allington before the two Diamonds players teamed up to take the doubles 12-10 in the deciding end.
In the battle of bottom two sides, it was Rothborough Buccaneers who emerged victorious with a 6-4 win over Burton Baptist D.
Kelvin Marshall put the bottom side ahead with a five-set win over Paul Watts before Buccaneers reeled off five matches in succession to take a 5-1 lead with wins for Luke Saywood (2), Brett Owen and Watts.
Baptist fought back by winning the next three games courtesy of James Young, Richard Leder and Marshall. However, Buccaneers had the final say as Owen/Saywood saw off Marshall/Leder to take the doubles and complete the victory.
Results: Westfield C 4 (Bird 3, Wildman) Corby Town C 6 (Haynes 2, Murie 2, Cassidy, Haynes/Murie), Corby Town B 8 (Warrander 3, Moore 3, Woolston, Moore/Woolston) Thraspton Falcons 2 (Tyler, Payne), Harborough Diamonds 4 (Burnham 2, McGowan, Burnham/McGowan), Harborough Rangers 6 (J Allington 2, V Allington 2, Brocklebank 2), Burton Baptist D 4 (Marshall 2, Young, Leder) Rothborough Buccaneers 6 (Saywood 2, Owen 2, Watts, Saywood/Owen).
Corby D avenged one of their defeats in Division Two against Kettering B when they returned from Weavers with an 8-2 victory.
Although Stewart Abraham and Keith McLaren were unbeaten throughout the night, they were both taken to five ends in a contest much closer than the scoreline suggests as, had Kettering won the games that went the distance, it would have been a draw.
Ann Woolston was most unlucky, taking both Abraham and John Hunt all the way but ultimately missing out. McLaren has now won 19 of his 21 games this year.
Rothborough Comets’ uncharitable whitewash of club-mates Phantoms drew them further away in their pursuit of the title.
All of the Phantoms managed at least an end but Ivor Jones was imperious for Comets, despite some harsh nets, and didn’t drop an end, not even taken to a deuce. Jones and David Simmons are the only two players in the division with win records over 90 per cent and may confirm their league title with a week to spare next week.
Dakotas matched Corby’s score from earlier in the week but will need to do better than their rivals next time if they are to take the race for second to the final week. Corby’s opponents will be Burton Baptist E, who Dakotas beat 8-2 this week.
James Young prevented a worse defeat at the end with a win in the final singles match against Pete Rowbotham and then teamed up with Jim McNeely for only their fourth doubles victory, helped with deuce victories in the first and last ends. Kelvin Linnett got his seventh treble and Gareth Lewis his ninth and they dropped only one end between them from their six.
When Harborough Imps visited Montsaye they reversed the earlier scoreline and in the process leapfrogged Phantoms to sixth in the table.
Mark Pearson swept all before him with his seventh hat-trick and teamed up with Ron Palfrey for the doubles. Palfrey also hit a pair as did younger team-mate Jamie Burgess but the latter needed five to get past Martin Bradford, who was also the only one to get an end off Pearson. Sean Smith got another double but couldn’t challenge Pearson’s superiority.
Tony Yeomans prevented Thrapston Harriers routing Gladiators but Harriers do go into fourth and only Kettering B can stop them from finishing there.
Beth Tyler contributed a double and regulars Paul Blantern and Mike Burrows picked up their eighth and sixth maximums respectively. Bottom side Gladiators are the only team who can’t change their league position with the remaining games, although the middle of the table is particularly tight.
Results: Burton Baptist E 2 (Young, McNeely/Young) Dakotas 8 (Lewis 3, Linnett 3, Rowbotham 2), Kettering B 2 (Chatburn, Millman) Corby D 8 (Abraham 3, McLaren 3, Hunt, Abraham/McLaren), Rothborough Comets 10 (Jones 3, Simmons 3, Sturges 3, Simmons/Sturges) Rothborough Phantoms 0, Rothborough Exocets 2 (Smith 2) Harborough Imps 8 (Pearson 3, Burgess 2, Palfrey 2, Palfrey/Pearson), Rothborough Gladiators 1 (Yeomans) Thrapston Harriers 9 (Blantern 3, Burrows 3, B Tyler 2, Blantern/Burrows).
Team of the week: Corby Town C.
Player of the week: Nicole Bird.