Westfield edge to a crucial victory

Nicole Bird
Nicole Bird
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Reigning champions Westfield A edged past Kettering Town in what could prove to be the title decider in the Premier Division of the Kettering & District Table Tennis League.

Westfield flew into a 3-0 lead after Kevin Bird surprised John Fuller in five ends and Roumen Stefanov crushed league newcomer Nick Howard.

That soon became 5-1 and 6-2 after Steve Silk eventually beat Howard 11-9 in the decider, but just as Westfield looked to be running away with it Town reduced the deficit.

Nigel Metcalfe came from 2-1 down to deny Bird a fine treble and the hosts won the doubles 3-1 to leave the gap between the two sides at two points, although Westfield have a game in hand.

Westfield B are still in contention and top the table after a 9-1 win at Corby Rothbury.

The visitors ran through the card and looked to be on course for a whitewash until Aiden Smith came from 2-0 down to claim the scalp of Bogdan Capusa.

Nicole Bird and Dan Smalley dropped just two ends between them in the singles before winning the doubles in a deciding game.

At the other end of the table Westfield C failed to make the most of a golden opportunity as they limped to a 6-4 win against two-man Thrapston Eagles in a rearranged fixture.

Sam Wildman was the only player to beat the duo of Mark Stockley and Chris Warliker as youngster Bhavika Mistry succumbed to both.

Matt Rushton, playing with an injury, was beaten by Stockley but impressively fought back from 2-0 down to get the better of Warliker.

The result was Eagles’ best of the season but two days later they were brought back down to earth with a bump as they lost 10-0 at home to Higham.

Higham were only pushed beyond three ends twice as Richard Bashford and Mark Nannery beat Stockley and Warliker in four ends respectively.

Corby Lyveden Fields beat Burton Baptist A 7-3 in a match that could easily ended 10-0 or 5-5.

All of Baptist’s three points were won in five ends Jacek Koltuniuk and Michael Wilkins beat Kyle Murie before Wilkins and Alex Aston won the doubles.

Aston had a rare blank night, himself letting a 2-0 lead slip against Murie to end up winless in the singles.

Henry Arthur and Chris Haynes scored impressive maximums, dropping just two ends each.

Results: Kettering Town 4 (Fuller 2, Metcalfe, Fuller/Metcalfe) Westfield A 6 (Bird 2, Stefanov 2, Silk 2), Corby Rothbury 1 (Smith) Westfield B 9 (Smalley 3, Bird 3, Capusa 2, Smalley/Bird), Westfield C 6 (Wildman 3, Rushton 2, Mistry) Thrapston Eagles 4 (Stockley 2, Warliker, Stockley/Warliker), Thrapston Eagles 0 Higham 10 (Elliott 3, Bashford 3, Nannery 3, Elliott/Bashford), Corby Lyveden Fields 7 (Arthur 3, Haynes 3, Murie) Burton Baptist A 3 (Wilkins, Koltuniuk, Wilkins/Aston)

Team of the week: Westfield B

Player of the week: Nicole Bird.

The top two teams, Harborough A and Harborough B, met for the third and final time this season in Division One and with the A team seven points ahead and running out of matches, the B side realistically needed to beat them for the first time this season to have any chance of catching them by the end.

But the father and son Thompson duo didn’t allow this to happen as they both got trebles before teaming up to win the doubles.

The only game Nathan dropped was his first of the evening to Mike Brocklebank but he then beat him 3-1, followed by 3-0 wins against both Liam Burnham and Steve Crook, although most of his games were close being 11-9 or 11-8.

Barry was also a slow starter, 2-1 behind to Burnham in his first set but he then reeled off eight consecutive winning games.

Kevin Shield fought well, going to five games with both Crook and Burnham but couldn’t add to the score.

The 7-3 win puts Harborough A 11 points clear with just four matches left.

Harborough B remain 14 points ahead of Rothborough Arrows in third.

The relegation battle is still intriguingly poised and closer than the table suggests with 11 points between the bottom four teams.

Burton Baptist C are bottom but on paper have the easiest run-in, having to play teams in positions four to seven.

They are arguably in a slightly better position than Thrapston Kites who are two points ahead but have to play teams in second, fourth and fifth and Burton C.

Burton B and Thrapston Falcons are both 11 points off the bottom but Burton B have the toughest run-in, having to play the top three teams and Burton C while Falcons have to play teams in first, third, Kites and Burton C.

Rothborough Arrows showed why they’re at the top end of the table with a dominant display against Burton Baptist C.

Both Helen and Martin Watts got trebles with Helen not losing a game and Martin losing just two.

Sean Smith beat Derek Muggleton in five and Paul Goodman in four before Chris Agg earned his team a vital point by beating Smith in five games.

Smith then added a close doubles with Martin 11-9 in the fifth for a 9-1 victory.

In the relegation battle between Burton Baptist B and Thrapston Kites, Kites were at a disadvantage having only two players with Geoff Judd being injured, Bob Hickson not available and Falcons playing at Islip.

Effectively starting 3-0 up, Burton C went 6-0 ahead after Steve Smith beat Peter Briggs 3-0 and Harry Lade beat Stewart Williams by the same score, before Lade came from 2-0 behind to beat Briggs.

Kites then won the next three singles with Williams beating both Nash Hooda and Smith and Briggs this time managing to fight off a comeback from Hooda to win in five games after leading 2-0.

With Lade playing in another match Smith and Hooda won the doubles for a big 7-3 win.

Thrapston Falcons were again without Ian Baldock so faced a tough match against fourth placed Westfield D.

Nigel Payne continued his recent good form for Falcons and although he lost 3-0 to Nitin Patel, he had good 3-1 wins against Paul Malpass and Chris Alder but the Westfield trio were too good on the day for Alan Tyler and Antony Marray and Westfield D won 8-2.

Results: Harborough A 7 (B Thompson 3, N Thompson 3, Thompson/Thompson) Harborough B 3 (Burnham, Brocklebank, Crook), Rothborough Arrows 9 (H Watts 3, M Watts 3, Smith 2, Smith/M Watts) Burton Baptist C 1 (Agg), Burton Baptist B 7 (Lade 3, Smith 2, Hooda, Smith/Hooda) Thrapston Kites 3 (Williams 2, Briggs), Thrapston Falcons 2 (Payne 2) Westfield D 8 (Patel 3, Alder 2, Malpass 2, Alder/Malpass).

Team of the week: Harborough A.

Players of the week: Barry Thompson and Nathan Thompson.

Corby Halesowen’s second win of the season in Division Two, an impressive 7-3 defeat of Rothborough Comets, overturned the form book and overcame their previous 9-1 loss and 5-5 draw.

Ann Woolston has played all three and this was her first victory, defeating a strangely subdued Gareth Lewis who drew a blank on the night.

Neil Stone’s return to regular action recently has seen the scoring for Halesowen improve and he got a maximum for the first time this season.

He was matched by Keith McLaren’s first hat-trick although he had to fight hard to overcome Alan Brisley in a five ender that McLaren won two ends 15-13.

Brisley and Pete Sturges took the doubles though to maintain a very useful doubles record of 10 wins in 14 outings, enough to keep them above their club rivals who have only won four out of 14 doubles.

Halesowen couldn’t maintain the momentum against Team Jim though as even Neil Stone could only muster a single victory.

The 9-1 scoreline vastly flattered Team Jim though as half the games went the distance and Keith McLaren was particularly unfortunate losing all of his the long way, two of them – versus Bryan and Harry Lade – from two up.

Harry Lade was the pick of the Burton outfit but Jacob Tattersall was the most tenacious, winning all three of his in five.

Bryan Lade had his best night of the season with a brace, one of which was against an opponent ranked 18 places higher.

Apart from Rob Warrander losing the first two ends to Pete Sturges Lakeview were ruthless against Comets as otherwise only two ends went to deuce.

The Warrander, Adam Bendyk and Stephen Woolston trio have played the last six matches and this consistency of selection is clearly paying off as they keep the pressure on Smash B.

They all have a better than 75 per cent winning record and with Team Jim in third only having three matches left but 28 points behind at least second is guaranteed.

Results: Burton Baptist Team Jim 9 (H Lade 3, Tattersall 3, B Lade 2, H Lade/Tattersall) Corby Halesowen 1 (Stone), Corby Halesowen 7 (McLaren 3, Stone 3, Woolston) Rothborough Comets 3 (Brisley, Sturges, Brisley/Sturges), Rothborough Comets 0 Corby Lakeview 10 (Bendyk 3, Warrander 3, Woolston 3, Bendyk/Woolston).

Player of the week: Bryan Lade.

Team of the week: Burton Baptist Team Jim.