Corby B beat Harborough A 7-3 in a gruelling Premier Division encounter as the Kettering & District Table Tennis League nears the end of the season.
Henry Arthur was the hero for the Kingswood side as he hit a maximum, although he was taken to the wire by Barry Thompson before prevailing 15-13 in the deciding end.
Chris Robertson and Aaron Moore both bagged braces, losing to Thompson and Kevin Shield respectively.
Trailing 7-2, the hosts reduced the deficit in the doubles with Thompson and Shield coming back from 2-0 down to win 11-9 in the fifth end.
Colin Wilson suffered just his second defeat of the season but that wasn’t enough to stop Corby Smash from beating Higham 6-4.
Wilson lost in five ends to fellow left-hander Richard Bashford who joined Dan Smalley on the small list of players to defeat the former Commonwealth Games medallist.
Tony West’s fine treble, coupled with Wilson’s brace and a doubles win – Adam Wilson’s first success of the season – saw Smash home.
Kettering Town A look certain to finish second after a resounding 10-0 triumph over Westfield B.
The trio of John Fuller, Shandor Czuczor and Nigel Metcalfe were all too good for their opponents, although Matt Rushton should have avoided the whitewash.
He led 2-1 against Metcalfe and 9-6 in the decider before succumbing.
Steve Silk almost fell to the shock defeat of the season as Westfield A beat Rothborough Arrows 10-0.
He was given an almighty scare as he trailed 2-1 to Martin Watts before winning 11-6 in the fifth end.
Nicole Bird and Roumen Stefanov were untroubled as they hit maximums as Westfield continue their march towards to the title.
Burton Baptist A have been bolstered by the return of Chris Ross in recent weeks and he was undefeated once more as his side beat Corby A 8-2.
He narrowly beat Chris Haynes in five ends, with Haynes beating Alex Aston deuce in the decider as well as beating Dariusz Gulbicki.
Aston and Gulbicki both picked up two wins to record an impressive victory.
Results: Harborough A 3 (B Thompson, Shield, Thompson/Shield) Corby B 7 (Arthur 3, Moore 2, Robertson 2), Corby Smash 6 (West 3, C Wilson 2, C Wilson/A Wilson) Higham 4 (Bashford 2, Elliott, Bannister), Kettering Town A 10 (Fuller 3, Czuczor 3, Metcalfe 3, Fuller/Metcalfe) Westfield B 0, Westfield A 10 (N Bird 3, Stefanov 3, Silk 3, Bird/Silk) Rothborough Arrows 0, Burton Baptist A 8 (Ross 3, Aston 2, Gulbicki 2, Aston/Gulbicki) Corby A 2 (Haynes 2).
Team of the week: Burton Baptist A.
Player of the week: Richard Bashford.
With only three matches of the season to go it’s looking highly likely that Thrapston Eagles will be the champions in Division One.
A solid 8-2 victory over a tricky Thrapston Kites in fifth place gives them a nine-point lead at the top and with their remaining opponents in mid to low table positions they don’t look like slipping up.
The match started promptly at 7.30pm but didn’t finish until 11pm with Stewart Williams taken to fifth-end deciders in all four of the sets he was involved in, as well as two of Peter Briggs singles.
They both beat Steve West in the fifth and lost the rest, giving trebles to Mark Stockley and Ian Donaldson, his second of the week.
The card was late in the post from Corby C but Westfield C beat them 7-3 to keep them in second place, nine points below Thrapston Eagles and four above Harborough B.
Steve Hobbs’ expected treble keeps him on top of the averages just above Stockley and had he not been out with an injury for five matches mid-season there would surely have been a close race for the title between Eagles and Westfield C.
They will be hopeful of maintaining their four-point lead over Harborough B who play last to secure promotion.
Harborough B kept up the pressure with a 9-1 win over Harborough D.
The D team got off to the perfect start as Vaughan Allington beat Sam Burgess 3-0.
That was as good as it got for the underdogs though as Liam Burnham and Steve Crook reeled off trebles and Burgess recovered for a brace.
Second to bottom Harborough D are now eight points below Rothborough Buccaneers and according to the rules the team in that position is supposed to be relegated, however they may get a reprieve because of Arthingworth dropping out of the Premier Division earlier in the season.
Buccaneers look like staying above Harborough D after taking three points off fourth-placed Thrapston Falcons in a 7-3 loss.
Sean Smith got a brace against Nigel Payne and Alan Tyler but could not get the better of treble man Donaldson while Luke Saywood also beat Tyler.
Although it has looked likely for most of the season, Rothborough Comets are now a mathematical certainty to finish bottom after a 9-1 loss to Burton Baptist C with Alan Brisley’s win over Kelvin Marshall being the only win against the rankings.
Marshall scored a brace and was aided by Paul Goodman and David Simmons who both got trebles.
For Burton Baptist D, Chris Agg’s treble provided the backbone for a 7-3 win over Harborough C.
His evening did not start well when he went 2-0 down to Jamie Burgess but after this he reeled off nine consecutive games against Jamie Burgess (including a 18-16 decider), Mark Pearson and Sam Burgess.
He was supported by Steve Smith’s brace against Jamie Burgess and Pearson and Derek Muggleton with a win over Pearson and Muggleton and Smith in the doubles.
Results: Thrapston Kites 2 (Briggs, Williams) Thrapston Eagles 8 (Donaldson 3, Stockley 3, West, Stockley/Donaldson), Corby C 3 Westfield C 7, Harborough B 9 (Burnham 3, Crook 3, Burgess 2,Crook/Burnham) Harborough D 1 (Allington), Rothborough Buccaneers 3 (Smith 2, Saywood) Thrapston Falcons 7 (Donaldson 3, Payne 2, Tyler, Tyler/Payne), Rothborough Comets 1 (Brisley) Burton Baptist C 9 (Goodman 3, Simmons 3, Marshall 2, Goodman/Marshall), Burton Baptist D 7 (Agg 3, Smith 2, Muggleton, Muggleton/Smith) Harborough C 3 (S Burgess 2, J Burgess).
Team of the week: Thrapston Eagles.
Player of the week: Ian Donaldson.
The top two in Division Two were inseparable all night with never more than one point between them and a 5-5 draw between Corby D and Burton Baptist Team Jim was the fitting result for the second time this season.
Involved in two games that went the distance, Stewart Abraham was the man of the night as he remained unbeaten against Team Jim and was thus responsible for four of Corby’s points, the other achieved by Ken Knott, the player involved in the other two longest games as the pair’s experience gained them the crucial doubles.
There were good wins for Ben Freeman over Knott and John Hunt, and for Jacob Tattersall over Hunt.
The draw allowed Rothborough Dakotas to make up ground on the top two and they did it in style with a comprehensive 10-0 defeat of Westfield D.
Each of the visiting team achieved an end – in Bronwen Grigg’s case only her second of the season – but David Steele, Cathy Fleming and Pete Rowbotham were comfortable and went into second on 121 points, the same as Corby but with more victories.
As only Steele is in the top 10 of regular players this season it shows great consistency.
They have the toughest run-in though, playing Harborough E and Team Jim.
Harborough aren’t allowing the top three to get away though as they had a good 8-2 win over Rothborough Exocets, in the process causing Lee Mordecai’s second blank of the season.
John McGowan and Ron Palfrey got trebles but Helmut Salander and Sally Taylor both beat the unlucky Ben Baker in five.
He had a modicum of revenge in once again teaming up for a doubles victory with McGowan, this time winning the long way.
Old gained their first whitewash of the season and Kettering Town B suffered their first as Beth Tyler, Mike Burrows and Richard Bryant all got hat-tricks.
Bryant matched his best result but this time it was against three players all higher ranked.
Considering he didn’t win a game until his fifth match it marks an impressive improvement.
Almost as impressive was the reverse of the score in the original match between the teams when Kettering won 9-1, and they are the team of the week for the seventh time this season.
Thus with two games left this season any of four teams could win the league - seven points separate the top three with the fourth side seven further back and it could go down to very small margins.
Results: Burton Baptist Team Jim 5 (Freeman 2, H Lade 2, Tattersall) Corby D 5 (Abraham 3, Knott, Abraham/Knott), Harborough 8 E (McGowan 3, Palfrey 3, Baker, Baker/McGowan) Rothborough Exocets 2 (Salander, Taylor), Kettering Town B 0 Old Village 10 (Bryant 3, Burrows 3, Tyler 3, Burrows/Tyler),Rothborough Dakotas 10 (Fleming 3, Rowbotham 3, Steele 3, Fleming/Rowbotham) Westfield D 0.
Player of the week: Richard Bryant.
Team of the week: Old Village.
The semi-finalists for this year’s Wellingborough & District League’s Challenge Trophy, sponsored by Harish Thakrar Ltd, have been confirmed.
The aim of the handicap competition is that everyone, regardless of ability has an equal chance of winning.
And the third round gave clear evidence of this with all the semi-finalists being from Division Three.
Despite their poor recent league form, Chesterwell B put up a herculean performance in their attempt to overcome their massive handicap against WDHA Knightriders.
But the game was won for the hosts in games four and six where Hubert Malenda gained 20 points against Luke Hughes and Rishan Ganatra took 21 against Graham Ellson.
However, in possibly a cup record, Carlton Ellwood restricted Ansh Shah to one point in game nine, leaving five required in the doubles.
Malenda and Ganatra duly gained them in the opening leg against Ellson and Ellwood to emerge victorious by a 455-437 scoreline.
WDHA Challengers ran out surprisingly comfortable 44-point winners over Stanwick.
For the visitors, Geoff Neville was somewhat below par, going down to Tarun Mistry (10-11, 11-9, 5-11, 8-11) and to Kyle Ghanie (11-7, 9-11, 10-11, 9-11) and, with Carl Eaves only winning two legs on the night, Stanwick clawed back just 11 points as they went down 416-372
An inter-club battle saw top division runners-up Chesterwell A up against the league bottom markers Chesterwell E, who started with a huge handicap.
The first division side fought to the end with half of games being on handicap, a highlight being an 11-0, 11-0, 11-1, 11-2 victory by Stan Galkowski over Gavin Birmingham. However, he blotted his copybook when conceding 15 points in game nine to Peter Atkins, leaving six required in the doubles.
This was obtained in the first end by Atkins and Stuart Rae to earn a slightly inflated winning margin of 22 points, which means the two bottom sides of the league had won through to the semi-final, probably for the first time ever.
In the other third-round clash, Wanderers E beatChesterwell E to seal their place in the last four.
Results: WDHA Knightriders (335) 455 Chesterwell B (0) 437, WDHA Challengers (55) 416 Stanwick VHTTC (0) 372, Chesterwell E (355) 458 Chesterwell A (0) 436, Wanderers E (0) beat Chesterwell E (18) (scores not available).