Premier Division title favourites Westfield A had to fight hard to retain their unbeaten record in the Kettering & District Table Tennis League as they were pushed almost to the limit by club colleagues Westfield C.
Dan Smalley gave the mid-table C team the lead with a win over Kevin Bird and it could have been 2-0 if Nicole Bird had managed to see out her match with Steve Silk.
The league’s top player was 2-0 down but found his best form to win 11-9 in the fifth.
Roumen Stefanov beat Tom Wildman to put the A team in the lead before the ‘battle of the Birds’ saw daughter Nicole defeat dad Kevin in four ends to square the match at 2-2.
When Smalley beat Stefanov in straight sets to put the C team 3-2 up, it looked like a shock could be on the cards.
However, Silk completed his hat-trick and with Stefanov seeing off Nicole Bird 12-10 in the decider and Kevin Bird also getting the better of Wildman in five ends, the A team finally showed their superiority by completing the 7-3 win when Silk and Stefanov took the doubles in straight ends.
With the leaders dropping points, both Burton Baptist A and Higham were hoping to gain some ground in the battle for the title.
Harborough Athletic were Burton’s opponents and they found themselves on the wrong end of a 10-0 whitewash as Chriss Ross, Dariusz Gulbicki and Alex Aston all recorded trebles.
Higham put out a new-look line-up against Corby Town A, but the trio of Mick Allsopp, Richard Bashford and John Alsop did not disappoint as they came away with a 9-1 win.
Bashford and Alsop both hit hat-tricks but in the last singles of the night, Chris Haynes prevented Allsopp from matching his team-mates endeavours with a win in four ends.
Kettering Town A were another team to dish out a 10-0 whitewash, with Corby Town B being their victims.
Kettering dropped just two ends as John Fuller, Mike Hawes and Nigel Metcalfe all recorded hat-tricks.
Things seem to be looking up for Arthingworth as they recorded a 6-4 win over Westfield B.
Chris Gibbons was their star man with a hat-trick but he was well supported by Michael Edwards (2) and Gerald Henson.
Westfield, without the influential Brian Wooding, fought hard as Steve Hobbs scored an excellent double and Matthew Rushton won once before teaming up with Scott Dixon to take the extra point from the doubles rubber.
Results: Westfield C 3 (Smalley 2, N Bird) Westfield A 7 (Silk 3, Stefanov 2, K Bird, Silk/Stefanov), Harborough Athletic 0 Burton Baptist A 10 (Aston 3, Gulbicki 3, Ross 3, Gulbicki/Ross), Higham 9 (Alsop 3, Bashford 3, Allsopp 2, Alsop/Bashford) Corby Town A 1 (Haynes), Kettering Town A 10 (Metcalfe 3, Fuller 3, Hawes 3, Metcalfe/Hawes) Corby Town B 0, Arthingworth 6 (Gibbons 3, Edwards 2, Henson) Westfield B 4 (Hobbs 2, Rushton, Hobbs/Dixon).
Division One leaders Eagles got the better of club colleagues Kites thanks to trebles from Mark Stockley and Chris Warliker.
However, Peter Briggs, Paul Goodman and Alan Tyler all got the better of Ian Donaldson, with Tyler coming back from two ends down in the only match of the night to go to five ends.
Stockley and Warliker then returned to add the doubles to give Eagles a 7-3 win, leaving them nine points clear at the top.
Second-placed Arrows made the trip to third-placed Corby C without the division’s top player Julian Marlow.
After wins for Nigel Hunt and Stephen Woolston put Corby 2-0 up, matches three and four proved crucial.
First, Kyle Murie came back from 2-0 down to defeat Helen Watts in five ends and then Woolston lost the first two ends to Tom Ravenscroft before taking the third 18-16 and adding the last two 11-9, 11-9 to put Corby 4-0 ahead.
Helen Watts came back from 2-1 down to defeat Woolston and also got the better of Hunt, as did Paul Watts.
However, Murie completed his excellent treble and added the doubles with Woolston in another five-ender to give Corby a 7-3 victory to leave them just one point behind Arrows.
Liam Burnham and Steve Crook both completed trebles for Rangers against Buccaneers before combining to add the doubles.
Vaughan Allington won twice before falling in four ends to Brett Owen as the Harborough team won 9-1, leaving them four points behind second-placed Arrows.
Two wins for Nigel Payne helped Falcons to a 4-1 lead against Burton C before David Simmons came back from two ends down to defeat Alan Tyler in the first five-ender of the evening.
Then Derek Muggleton and Simmons both came back from 2-1 down to defeat Antony Marray and Nigel Payne respectively and Chris Agg beat Tyler to put Burton 5-4 ahead.
Falcons finally secured the draw when Payne and Tyler took the doubles in another five-ender on a night where all six players won at least once.
Diamonds skipper Mark Pearson produced his best performance of the season with a treble against Corby D.
While Mike Brocklebank also recorded a comfortable treble, Dave Coombs found the going tougher when falling to both Tom Cardwell and Stewart Abraham. Pearson and Brocklebank added the doubles to give Diamonds an 8-2 win.
Results: Thrapston Kites 3 (Briggs, Goodman, Tyler) Thrapston Eagles 7 (Stockley 3, Warliker 3, Stockley/Warliker), Corby C 7 (Murie 3, Woolston 2, Hunt, Murie/Woolston) Rothborough Arrows 3 (H Watts 2, P Watts), Harborough Rangers 9 (Burnham 3, Crook 3, Allington 2, Burnham/Crook) Rothborough Buccaneers 1 (Owen), Thrapston Falcons 5 (Payne 2, Marray, Tyler, Payne/Tyler) Burton Baptist C 5 (Agg 2, Simmons 2, Muggleton), Corby D 2 (Cardwell, Abraham) Harborough Diamonds 8 (Brocklebank 3, Pearson 3, Coombs, Brocklebank/Pearson).
It was an eventful night at Islip when the top two teams in Division Two met in the first fixture of the year.
In the first game the players with the top two averages in the league faced each other and, after five ends, Kelvin Marshall had avenged his only defeat of the season by overcoming Alan Tyler.
In fact, Burton won the first four games of the night and looked to be making light of only having two players.
Then Tyler beat Steve Smith to get Harriers on the move and it galvanised them as Paul Blantern inflicted Marshall’s second defeat in five very tense ends. He then teamed up with Mike Burrows to take Burton’s unbeaten doubles record in straight ends and secure the 6-4 victory.
Kettering B improved on the earlier draw with Rothborough Phantoms when Alan Woolston’s third hat-trick included a revenge victory over Cathy Fleming and Jim Chatburn’s second included fifth-end victories from behind against both Fleming and Pete Rowbotham. Chatburn also beat Lauren Ainsworth, above him in the ranking list. The Kettering duo also took the doubles for a successful start to 2014. Ainsworth did get some personal revenge overcoming an earlier defeat by Ann Woolston.
Comets were made to work hard for their 7-3 victory over Exocets where only two games took the short route.
Comets won the three to go the full length – Gareth Lewis took five to beat Phil Tomlin on his way to yet another maximum and Alan Brisley won his pair in five against the unlucky Tomlin and even unluckier Lee Mordecai, who had a blank night losing his other two after deuce in the fourth end. Harrison overcame the rankings in beating Brisley on his way to a double.
Another man upsetting the rankings was Anthony Yeomans, who scored Gladiators’ two points in beating Jamie Burgess and David Patmore, both in straight ends.
Gladiators have used the least number of players this season (four) and Yeomans has played all but one match and scored 15 of their 18 singles points.
Harborough Imps though went level with Phantoms in the table with their eight points, John McGowan was their main man with his second hat-trick while Burgess and Patmore chipped in with a brace each, Patmore’s first points since week three against the same opposition.
Results: Rothborough Gladiators 2 (Yeomans) Harborough Imps 8 (McGowan 3, Burgess 2, Patmore 2, Burgess/McGowan), Rothborough Phantoms 3 (L Ainsworth, Fleming, Rowbotham) Kettering Town B 7 (Chatburn 3, Al Woolston 3, Chatburn/Al Woolston), Rothborough Exocets 3 (Harrison 2, Tomlin) Rothborough Comets 7 (Lewis 3, Brisley 2, Linnett, Brisley/Linnett), Thrapston Harriers 6 (Blantern 2, A Tyler 2, Burrows, Blantern/Burrows) Burton Baptist D 4 (Marshall 2, Smith 2).
Player of the week: Anthony Yeomans.
Team of the week: Thrapston Harriers.