Kettering Town’s Premier Division title bid was effectively ended by a 6-4 defeat to Corby Smash A in a fascinating Kettering & District Table Tennis League clash.
Smash put out arguably their strongest side of the season but found themselves 2-0 down after fine five-end wins from Nigel Metcalfe and John Fuller over Tony West and Ian Johnston respectively.
Town were pegged back to 3-3 and Smash stole the win with three consecutive nail-biting deciding-game victories.
Hardbat specialist Johnston edged past Mike Hawes in a marathon match which included 21-19 and 19-17 scorelines.
Anthony Ellis beat Metcalfe 14-12 at the last before West denied Fuller his usual maximum.
Town won the doubles to reduce the deficit but look set to now battle it out for third with Higham.
Westfield A remain title favourites after a fine 9-1 win at Corby Lyveden Fields.
The reigning champions romped into a 7-0 lead before the hosts gave them any signs of trouble as Kevin Bird needed the full five ends to beat Kyle Murie.
Steve Silk then had to come from 2-1 down to beat bogey player Henry Arthur, but the hosts finally carded a win in the doubles as Arthur and Chris Haynes won 11-9 in the fifth.
The result leaves the A side four points behind Westfield B but with a game in hand after the B side beat their C team rivals 8-2.
Bhavika Mistry and Sam Wildman both gained victories over an out-of-sorts Nicole Bird.
Bogdan Capusa and the ever-reliable Dan Smalley scored hat-tricks for the title challengers.
Burton Baptist look set to condemn Westfield C to a relegation spot after beating already-relegated Thrapston Eagles 10-0.
Eagles could only muster two players and only took one end all night as Alex Aston, Michael Wilkins and the returning Dariusz Gulbicki ran through the card with ease.
Results: Corby Smash A 6 (West 2, Johnston 2, Ellis 2) Kettering Town 4 (Fuller 2, Metcalfe, Fuller/Metcalfe), Corby Lyveden Fields 1 (Arthur/Haynes) Westfield A 9 (Bird 3, Silk 3, Stefanov 3), Westfield C 2 (Mistry, Wildman) Westfield B 8 (Smalley 3, Capusa 3, Bird, Smalley/Bird), Thrapston Eagles 0 Burton Baptist A 10 (Aston 3, Wilkins 3, Gulbicki 3, Aston/Gulbicki).
Player of the week: Roumen Stefanov.
Team of the week: Westfield A.
Third-placed Rothborough Arrows did well to hold top team Harborough A to a draw in Division One and while this was enough for Harborough A to secure one of two promotion spots, it delayed their inevitable march to the title.
They now only need four points from their last two matches to seal the league at the first time of asking.
It also keeps Rothborough in with a slim chance of catching Harborough B for second place but being 10 points behind they will have to perform well and hope for an unlikely drop in form for Harborough.
Nathan Thompson got a treble to take his season’s average to an impressive 94 per cent, but dad Barry’s single win takes his average down to 79 per cent and with four wins out of nine this season, Rothborough A were his bogey team.
The Thompson’s usual doubles success keeps their team streets ahead of the rest in the doubles average at 89 per cent.
For Rothborough, Julian Marlow and Helen Watts scored a brace with Sean Smith a single.
Watts has won an impressive seven out of nine singles against this team in the season while Marlow and Smith both improved their records as Marlow had only won one out of six from two matches and Smith none from three in one match.
In recent weeks Harborough B have been limping towards what still looks a likely second place.
They were held to a draw by Burton Baptist B thanks mainly to Dave Needham who was in dominant form.
In nine out of nine singles games won, he only conceded 40 points which is an average of 4.4 points per game and although he has played few matches in either division, his contrasting record of 100 per cent in Division One and 22 per cent in the Premier highlights the ominous task ahead for the promoted teams next season. He was challenged in the doubles though but won in four close games with Nash Hooda against Burnham and Crook.
This took Burton B up to 77 points and they are now officially safe from relegation after looking in serious danger before Needham joined them in early February.
The Thrapston derby between Falcons and Kites went in favour of Falcons 8-2, making the relegation battle pretty much a two-horse race between Kites and Burton Baptist C.
Falcons now need a maximum of three points from their last two matches to definitely be safe.
Falcons put out their strongest team of Ian Baldock, Trevor Beard and Nigel Payne.
This match was a bit of a marathon with the first four sets and six in all requiring a deciding game, Falcons winning four of these and all four of the shorter sets.
Kites took an early lead with Peter Briggs accounting for Baldock and Bob Hickson for Payne but Stewart Williams was unlucky to return a blank, losing 11-9 and 12-10 in the fifth to Beard who got the only treble.
For several weeks the relegation battle has been swinging one way and then the other between Burton C and Kites and this time it was Burton C’s turn to have a good week.
This was mainly due to Harry Lade who seems to improve every week and if they do avoid relegation it will be mainly due to a player playing up from Division Two.
Against Westfield D, he won nine out of nine games, even overcoming his former dislike for pimples by beating Nitin Patel for the first time.
His Team Jim team-mate Jacob Tattersall also did well.
He lost 3-0 to Chris Alder but then beat Paul Malpass 3-1 and was 2-0 up on Patel but suffered with an arm injury and Patel fought back to win 3-2.
Lade and Derek Muggleton then added a crucial fifth point by winning the doubles 12-10 in the fifth against Malpass and Alder.
Kites are now one point ahead of Burton C but that’s effectively half a point as should they finish level Burton C have a better wins and draws record.
They play each other in the penultimate match and Burton C will fancy themselves to score more points in the final week as they play Thrapston Falcons who are sixth, whereas Kites take on second placed Harborough B.
If Kites can win that match 6-4 thus going three points ahead it will probably be roughly 50-50 going into the final week but just two points either side of that score will make either team a huge favourite.
Results: Rothborough Arrows 5 (H Watts 2, Marlow 2, Smith) Harborough A 5 (N Thompson 3, B Thompson, N Thompson/B Thompson), Burton Baptist B 5 (Needham 3, Hooda, Needham/Hooda) Harborough B 5 (Crook 2, Burnham 2, Brocklebank), Thrapston Falcons 8 (Beard 3, Baldock 2, Payne 2, Baldock/Payne) Thrapston Kites 2 (Briggs, Hickson), Westfield D 5 (Patel 2, Alder 2, Malpass) Burton Baptist C 5 (Lade 3, Tattersall, Lade/Muggleton).
Players of the week: Dave Needham and Harry Lade.
Team of the week: Thrapston Falcons.
Rothborough Buccaneers could only field two people for the first time this season in Division Two.
But it may not have made much difference as Burton Baptist Team Jim were in dominant form, storming to a 10-0 victory.
Ivor Jones got an end in every game but otherwise it was comfortable.
Despite his hat-trick, Harry Lade still has a better winning percentage in Division One than in the second.
Jacob Tattersall is at 62 per cent and improving and Ben Freeman matched his best result of the season having won only one of the games in the prior two matches.
Corby Lakeview made a statement of intent with a whitewash of Harborough C to go nine points clear at the top.
The eighth game in succession for the Lakeview trio means they are in the groove and, although each member of the Harborough team got to five ends once, Rob Warrander, Adam Bendyk and captain Stephen Woolston again demonstrated their status in the top echelons of the division.
Results: Burton Baptist Team Jim 10 (Freeman 3, H Lade 3, Tattersall 3, Freeman/H Lade) Rothborough Buccaneers 0, Harborough C 0 Corby Lakeview 10 (Bendyk 3, Warrander 3, Woolston 3, Bendyk/Woolston).
Player of the week: Ben Freeman.
Team of the week: Burton Baptist Team Jim.