Thrapston Falcons made Division One leaders Westfield C work hard for their 8-2 win in the Kettering & District Table Tennis League with only three of the eight wins coming in straight ends.
Tom Wildman was taken to five ends by Nigel Payne, who went on to beat Paul Malpass. However the best win of the night was Alan Tyler’s four-end victory over Nitin Patel who was 20 places higher on the Kettering Ranking List.
Flu-struck Kites made the trip to Harborough with only two players but a Peter Briggs treble and a Paul Goodman double put the Thrapston side ahead before they combined a take the doubles. Diamonds’ sole success came when Liam Burnham beat Goodman in straight ends.
Second-placed Corby B romped to a 10-0 win against an injury-hit Burton D side who were only able to field two players.
Just two of the matches went beyond three ends with Darryl Sutcliffe featuring in both, the closest being when Kyle Murie came back from 2-1 down to take the final two ends 12-10, 12-10. Corby’s Aaron Moore and Stephen Woolston wrapped up the night with their seventh doubles win in eight attempts.
The division’s top player, Chris Haynes, recorded another comfortable treble for Corby C, this time against Rangers.
The only match to go the full five ends looked to be going Rangers’ way when James Allington had three match points at 10-7 in the fifth end but Ryan Cassidy took the next four points to have his first match point at 11-10.
Both players had several more match points before the it was finally decided on the 13th with Allington winning 21-19. Cassidy, however, teamed up with Haynes to take the doubles as Corby C won 6-4 on a night when all six players won at least once.
Results: Westfield C 8 (Wildman 3, Patel 2, Malpass 2, Malpass/Wildman) Thrapston Falcons 2 (Payne, Tyler), Harborough Diamonds 4 (Burnham 2, Crook, McGowan) Thrapston Kites 6 (Briggs3, Goodman 2, Briggs/Goodman), Burton Baptist D 0 Corby B 10 (Moore 3, Murie 3, Woolston 3, Moore/Woolston), Corby C 6 (Haynes 3, Cassidy, Murie, Haynes/Cassidy) Harborough Rangers 4 (Brocklebank 2, J Allington, V Allington).
SAS Thrapston look like they will be making a quick return to Division One following their promotion last season but they intend to go down fighting as their Premier Division match against Arthingworth proved.
Mark Stockley recorded a fifth-end win over Gerald Henson before gaining a comprehensive straight-games victory over Michael Edwards.
The legendary Steve West leads the list of all-time Premier Division wins with over 1,500 successes to his name and, although he has found things far harder on his return to the top division, there have been some brief glimpses of his former prowess at the table.
He held 2-0 leads over both Henson and Chris Gibbons before ultimately losing to both players in the deciding end. He did get some reward for his efforts as, like Stockley, he also recorded a straight-games win over Edwards. Gibbons was unbeaten in singles and doubles as his side finally ran out 7-3 victors.
Westfield B were without Matt Rushton and Steve Hobbs and so promoted Nicole Bird from the Westfield C team that currently sit top of Division One and she recorded the best win of the week when, in the third match of the night, she accounted for Chris Ross 12-10, 11-7, 5-11, 7-11, 11-8.
Then, after losing heavily to the unorthodox Alex Aston, she almost doubled her tally but Dariusz Gulbicki just edged her out 12-10, 9-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-9.
Ross recovered to win his other two singles matches and with Gulbicki winning twice and Aston once, Burton Baptist A led 5-3.
Scott Dixon recorded a rare victory when he saw off Aston before teaming up with Brian Wooding to secure a draw by defeating Gulbicki and Ross in the doubles.
Higham Band are looking to secure the runners-up position and their 8-2 success over Harborough Athletic enhanced their chances.
Richard Elliott recorded another hat-trick but Mick Allsopp prevented the whitewash with a 20-18, 11-7, 13-11 win over Mark Nannery and followed this up with 11-9, 11-9, 11-9 victory over Andy Harrison.
Corby Town A still entertain outside hopes of pipping Higham Band to the runners-up position and their 9-1 success over Burton Baptist B still keeps them in with a shout of overhauling their rivals. Lee O’Boyle dropped just one end on the way to his hat-trick.
Henry Arthur matched his team-mate but only after saving three match points in the fourth end of his match with Jacek Koltuniuk before finally winning 8-11, 11-4, 5-11, 12-10, 12-10.
Koltuniuk then recorded an excellent success in four ends over the highly rated Aiden Smith to gain his team’s solitary point.
Westfield A’s procession towards the title continued with Kettering Town A the latest side to try and fail to take away their 100 per cent success record.
Steve Silk continued his majestic form with another treble including a straight-games win over John Fuller. Kevin Bird won twice but, with his hat-trick in sight, he went down in four ends to Fuller.
Earlier in the night, both Fuller and Carl Leeson defeated Roumen Stefanov but Bird and Stefanov completed the 7-3 success when they beat Fuller and Mike Hawes in four ends.
Results: SAS Thrapston 3 (Stockley 2, West) Arthingworth 7 (Gibbons 3, Henson 2, Edwards, Gibbons/Henson), Westfield B 5 (Wooding 2, Dixon, N Bird Wooding/Dixon) Burton Baptist A 5 (Gulbicki 2, Ross 2, Aston), Harborough Athletic 2 (Allsopp 2) Higham Band 8 (Elliott 3, Nannery 2, Harrison 2, Elliott/Harrison), Burton Baptist B 1 (Koltuniuk) Corby Town A 9 (O’Boyle 3, Arthur 3, Smith 2, O’Boyle/Smith), Westfield A 7 (Silk 3, K Bird 2, Stefanov, Silk/K Bird) Kettering Town A 3 (Fuller 2, Leeson).
It was night of significant firsts at Burton when Rothborough Gladiators won their first match of the Division Two season, led very ably by Edward West’s first hat-trick, in the process doubling his season’s tally and reversing the previous defeats to Jim McNeely and Nick Loake, both after deuce in the 5th end.
The defeat of Loake ensured the victory after coming from behind and while also denying Loake his treble. Loake got his season’s first double and McNeely his first victory of the year.
Rothborough Comets were too strong for club colleagues Exocets in a 9-1 victory. Having not lost all season, and with three players all over 80 per cent win percentage, Comets now look almost certain to be promoted, but will they lose their unbeaten doubles record? David Simmons has played all bar one and won them all.
Corby D are maintaining the pressure on Comets and eased away from Dakotas during their free week, when they beat Harborough Imps 8-2 at Kingswood.
Keith McLaren’s golden streak continued with yet another hat-trick and Tom Cardwell and John Hunt are matching win percentages still when they both got a double, losing out to Mark Pearson.
Pearson was close to his own treble but the imperious McLaren denied him in the final end of their game.
Experience won the day at Islip Village Hall as Rothborough Phantoms triumphed over Thrapston Hawks, including good maximums for Helmut Salander and Lee Mordecai, overcoming previous defeats against higher-ranked and improving players.
Salander’s third and Mordecai’s second trebles were consolidated when they teamed up for the doubles. Although not victorious, Sidney Wright very nearly broke her duck after coming from two ends down to just miss out 9-11 in the fifth to Mordecai.
Thrapston Harriers moved level on points with their opponents when they overcame Kettering Town B 8-2.
Kettering B showed excellent endurance though as the last three singles all went to five. Pete Scrivener gained his first victory over Muriel Cox, then Paul Blantern and Mike Burrows squeezed narrowly past Ann Woolston and Jim Chatburn respectively.
Blantern achieved his third maximum in the last five matches and Burrows his fourth of the season.
Results: Burton Baptist E 4 (Loake 2, McNeely, Loake/McNeely) Rothborough Gladiators 6 (West 3, Yeomans 2, L Patterson), Corby D 8 (McLaren 3, Cardwell 2, Hunt 2, MCLaren/Hunt) Harborough Imps 2 (Pearson 2), Kettering B 2 (Chatburn, Scrivener) Thrapston Harriers 8 (Blantern 3, Burrows 3, Cox, Blantern/Burrows), Rothborough Exocets 1 (Smith) Rothborough Comets 9 (Jones 3, Simmons 3, Sturges 2, Simmons/Sturges), Thrapston Hawks 2 (Kent, Wright) Rothborough Phantoms 8 (Mordecai 3, Salander 3, Abbott, Mordecai/Salander).
Player of the week:Edward West.
Team of the week: Rothborough Gladiators.
The annual Kettering & District Table Tennis closed tournament takes place on Saturday, March 9 at the Westfield Table Tennis Club.
The closing date for entry is February 25 and entry forms can be obtained from the clubs’ respective team captains.