Kettering Town B’s heavy loss in Division Two of the Kettering & District Table Tennis League was brightened considerably by a fighting win by Ann Woolston against Buccaneers’ Luke Saywood in the only game to go the distance.
The first four ends were all won by the narrowest margin but Woolston steamed ahead in the fifth to win 11-3 over a player 42 places above her in the rankings.
Her team-mates were unable to support her though, leaving Ray Harrison and Tom Ravenscroft to sweep the board, losing only one end and both remaining unbeaten in singles.
Burton Baptist E didn’t have such a player on form and were unable to trouble the scorers against Comets who moved into second place by virtue of hat-tricks for Kelvin Linnett, Pete Sturges and Martin Watts, the former two also taking the doubles.
They didn’t concede an end all night, the first time they have done that this season.
Sturges and Watts have only lost one rubber each all season in nine matches and are likely be near the top of the averages at the end of the year.
Dakotas remain at the summit after matching Comets’ result it was hard-fought against Harborough Imps with three going the full distance.
Tony Yeomans started the rout when he fought back from two down against Ron Palfrey and finished the night with another five-end victory over David Patmore.
Sean Smith and Pete Rowbotham were the support act on the night and although they gained fine trebles, they will find it harder in their next two matches against Comets and Buccaneers which will conclude the first part of the season.
Those fixtures also complete the season in March, setting up for an exciting finale.
A first draw of the season for Corby D and Exocets was a good result for both with Corby only managing to field a depleted team.
Dan Bottrill went through the card, dropping only one end for his second maximum while Nathan Brown had a good win over Pete Ainsworth. Bottrill and Brown also combined effectively for a straight ends doubles victory.
For Exocets, Tony Yeomans and Sally Taylor both got two, Taylor doubling her season tally. And the result meant Exocets leapfrogged Burton and Town B in the table.
Results: Burton Baptist E 0 Rothborough Comets 10 (Linnett 3, Sturges 3, Watts 3, Linnett/Sturges), Kettering Town B 1 (An Woolston) Rothborough Buccaneers 9 (Harrison 3, Ravenscroft 3, Saywood 2, Harrison/Ravenscroft), Rothborough Dakotas 10 (Rowbotham 3, Smith 3, Yeomans 3, Rowbotham/Smith) Harborough Imps 0, Rothborough Exocets 5 (Taylor 2, Yeomans 2, P Ainsworth) Corby D 5 (Bottrill 3, Brown, Bottrill/Brown).
Player of the Week: Ann Woolston.
The Premier Division is starting to take on a familiar shape with Westfield A, Burton Baptist A and Higham again leading the way in the battle to be crowned champions.
All three teams gained comprehensive victories but none more so than Westfield A who recorded a third 10-0 win from only five matches.
Guy Sparrow put in a sterling effort for Corby Town B without reward, first of all losing in five ends to Roumen Stefanov and then getting even closer to success against Kevin Bird.
Sparrow led 2-0 but Bird fought back to level the match before taking the decider 11-9. However, even Sparrow could not get near Steve Silk who dropped only one end as he recorded his fourth hat-trick from outings.
Burton Baptist A are just five points behind Westfield A but in Westfield C they found some stern opposition.
Dawid Przybysz continued his excellent early season form with another hat-trick to maintain his 100 per cent record.
Alex Aston was also unbeaten on the evening after surviving fifth-end tests against Dan Smalley and Matt Horrocks.
However, Horrocks and Carl Leeson gave their A team colleagues some breathing space, both recording excellent victories over Dariusz Gulbicki as Burton ran out 8-2 winners.
Higham stayed in the hunt with a 9-1 win against a Burton Baptist B team who are deep in the relegation battle.
Richard Elliott and Andy Harrison were on the treble trail but Jacek Koltuniuk prevented the whitewash with an excellent win over the higher-ranked Richard Bashford.
Baptist came close to adding another when they held a match point in the doubles but sadly for them they failed to convert it and the Higham duo of Elliott and Bashford took full advantage to win 13-11 in the decider.
Corby Town A find themselves just one point behind Higham as they maintained their seasonal unbeaten run with a 7-3 win over Westfield B.
Lee O’Boyle was the hero for Corby with his third treble in only his third appearance of the season but Chris Haynes lost his unbeaten record when he fell to a tremendous battling display from Nicole Bird.
Haynes led 2-0 before Bird pulled level at 2-2. When Haynes went 7-3 up in the decider it looked like he was on for another treble but Bird then won seven points in a row before sealing victory 11-8.
Kettering Town A could only field two players in their match against Harborough Athletic but another unbeaten night from John Fuller ensured that the match finished all-square.
Mike Hawes aided Fuller with a single win before the two players teamed up to take the match-saving doubles.
Barry Thompson and Kevin Shield both defeated Hawes in singles action and the 5-5 draw could be an important result for Harborough in their relegation battle.
Thrapston Eagles continue to find life tough following their promotion to the top flight and they found themselves on the wrong end of another 10-0 defeat, this time against Arthingworth.
Ray Kingston, Gerald Henson and Chris Gibbons were the players that did the damage for Arthingworth, although Mark Stockey (against Kingston) and Ian Donaldson (against Henson) both came within a couple of points of snatching a win.
Results: Westfield A 10 (K Bird 3, Silk 3, Stefanov 3, Bird/Stefanov) Corby Town B 0, Burton Baptist A 8 (Aston 3, Przybysz 3, Gulbicki, Przybysz/Aston) Westfield C 2 (Leeson, Horrocks), Higham 9 (Elliott 3, Harrison 3, Bashford 2, Elliott/Bashford) Burton Baptist B 1 (Koltuniuk), Westfield B 3 (N Bird 2, Rushton) Corby Town A 7 (O’Boyle 3, Haynes 2, Arthur, Haynes/Arthur), Harborough Athletic 5 (B Thompson 2. Shield 2, Allington) Kettering Town A 5 (Fuller 3, Hawes, Fuller/Hawes), Arthingworth 10 (Kingston 3, Henson 3, Gibbons 3, Kingston/Henson) Thrapston Eagles 0.
Player of the week: Nicole Bird.
It remains a close four-way battle at the top of the Division One table with little to choose between the teams involved.
Rothborough Arrows and Harborough Rangers were joint-top in terms of points (although Thrapston’s Kites and Falcons with a game in hand could both easily overtake them) so if either team won their match they would go to the summit, for now at least.
The match was predictably close with four sets requiring a fifth and deciding end and three a fourth end.
Julian Marlow maintained his unbeaten record this season though at least this time he was tested, especially by Liam Burnham.
At 2-0 down, Burnham started a comeback by winning the third end by the surprising score of 11-2, followed by 11-9 in the fourth. Marlow then regained his form in the fifth to win comfortably 11-4.
Marlow was more comfortable in his other wins 3-0 against Steve Crook and 3-1 over Mike Brocklebank.
Brocklebank won his other two sets with a close and long fifth-ender against Helen Watts that contained a 12-10 to both players and 16-14 in the fifth and 3-0 over Ivor Jones.
Watts won her other two sets though but had to come from 2-0 down against Burnham in which there was another 11-2 win for Burnham in a losing set and an 11-1 win for Watts.
Burnham had some consolation with an expected win over Jones 3-0.
At 5-4 down, Rangers needed to win the doubles to get a draw. Brocklebank and Steve Crook just missed out by the narrowest of margins, 14-12 in the fifth against the dependable Marlow and Watts who edged it for a 6-4 victory.
The two Thrapston teams Kites and Falcons both recorded 7-3 wins although Kites were facing stronger opposition so should be the happier of the two.
Corby C started their match with a shock win for Stewart Abraham over Pete Briggs of Kites courtesy of three 11-9 legs, the third of which was the deciding fifth.
There are 30 places between the two players (55 and 85) on the Kettering ranking list and it was Briggs’ first loss of this season.
Abraham did not add to this win, losing 3-0 to both Geoff Judd and Stewart Williams and Briggs only lost one more end in the following two victories, 3-1 over Keith McLaren and 3-0 over Stephen Woolston.
Judd was the man-of-the-match with the only treble and his first of the season with Williams also beating McLaren in five and losing to Woolston in five.
There were five five-enders in the match which included the first three sets.
With their strongest line-up, Falcons would have hoped for better than a 7-3 win over relegation-threatened Harborough Diamonds.
However they were missing their leading two players in the averages, Ian Baldock and Nigel Payne, who between them have won 15 out of 18 singles.
That said all three of Diamonds’ winning sets were against higher-ranked players with Dave Coombes beating Alan Tyler and Antony Marray and Vaughan Allington seeing off Ian Donaldson who is playing in the Premier Division this season.
Therefore it was three valuable and arguably unexpected points for Diamonds.
The match between Thrapston Harriers and Harborough Rovers was a relegation battle and therefore both teams badly needed a win to get them out of trouble.
Harriers have been struggling with both form and player availability and were looking for one or two players to add to their squad.
They will be thankful then that Marta Honkova has joined them however on her debut match in the Kettering League she was not able to help her team with the scoreline despite getting close to her first win in five ends against Sam Burgess.
Playing in his second match in two days, Alan Tyler made a good start winning the first leg easily 11-2 against Jamie Burgess.
He also won the second leg this time by a close one 12-10 and then an unbelievable third end 28-26.
If Tyler was simply trying to get more table time the extra practice helped as he won a thriller against the other Burgess, Sam, 13-11 in the fifth in which every leg was close followed by a 3-1 win over Mark Pearson in his first treble of the season.
As his team-mates couldn’t help him add to the score though, the 7-3 defeat means the team are looking odds on favourites to finish bottom of the table unless they can improve their form.
The other relegation place looks like a battle between the two Harborough teams Rovers and Diamonds.
In a match between two mid-table teams, Burton Baptist D and Westfield D, everybody won at least one set but nobody was unbeaten.
At 5-1 up the Wellingborough team looked like they might run away with it with Nitin Patal looking the most impressive with 3-0 wins over Steve Smith and Kelvin Marshall.
Smith then started to turn things around with an impressive 3-0 success over Chris Alder before Marshall, who had previously beaten Alder 11-9 in the fifth, continued his good night with a convincing 3-0 win over Paul Malpass.
Derek Muggleton showed that he is adept at coping with long pimples by beating Patal 3-1 which was his first defeat of the season out of nine sets.
Malpass and Alder got their team back on track to win the doubles and the match 6-4.
Results: Rothborough Arrows 6(Marlow 3, Watts 2, Marlow/Watts) Harborough Rangers 4 (Brocklebank 2,Crook,Burnham), Corby C 3 (Abraham,Woolston,Abraham/Woolston) Thrapston 7 (Judd 3,Briggs 2, Williams 2), Harborough Diamonds 3 (Coombs 2,Allington) Thrapston Falcons 7 (Donaldston 2, Marray 2, Tyler 2, Tyler/Marray), Thrapston 3 (Tyler 3) Harborough Rovers 7 (S Burgess 2, J Burgess 2, Pearson 2, S Burgess/J Burgess), Burton Baptist 4 (Marshall 2, Muggleton, Smith) Westfield D 6 (Malpass 2, Patal 2, Alder, Malpass/Alder).
Player of the week: Geoff Judd.
Team of the week: Rothborough A.