Play-offs needed in the Millman Salver

Tom Ravenscroft led a fightback for Dakotas but they were still edged out by Thrapston Falcons in the Millman Salver
Tom Ravenscroft led a fightback for Dakotas but they were still edged out by Thrapston Falcons in the Millman Salver

The first round of the Kettering & District Table Tennis League’s Millman Salver produced some closely-fought matches with two being decided by play-offs.

Thrapston Eagles led Harborough Athletic 16-12 after seven games having been 5-3 behind after the first two.

Kevin Shield and Nathan Thompson beat Ian Donaldson and Mark Stockley 3-1 in games eight and nine and a shared doubles levelled the match level at 20-20.

The resulting play-off proved to be an anti-climax as Thompson convincingly beat Stockley 3-0 for the winning point.

Thrapston Falcons were never behind against Rothborough Dakotas and were leading 14-10 with four games remaining.

Dakotas’ fightback was led by Tom Ravenscroft and Martin Bradford defeating Alan Tyler and Nigel Payne 3-1 and, with a shared doubles, the scores were level again at 20-20.

Bradford and Nigel Payne met in the play-off and Dakotas were now favourites following Bradford’s victory in game none.

But Payne produced a match-winning performance to beat his opponent in four ends.

Steady all-round performances by Luke Saywood, Brett Owen and Michael Cross saw them just hold on to outgun Westfield B 21-19.

Buccaneers led from game two and after Saywood’s 3-1 win over Scott Dixon, a 21-16 lead required only one point from the doubles.

Last season’s play-off specialists had other ideas and after Brian Wooding and Steve Hobbs took the first three ends to make the score 20-19, another one was on the cards.

But Cross and Saywood upped their game, winning the decisive fourth end 11-2 for victory.

Another match decided by the doubles was the all-Division One clash between Harborough Rangers and Corby C.

Kyle Murie and Ryan Cassidy led Ross Campbell and Steve Crook 2-1 and an overall score of 20-19 left Rangers requiring the fourth end of doubles for victory. They held on to take it 11-7 to prevent another play-off being required.

On an adjoining table, Westfield C defeated Harborough Diamonds 22-18 in another close encounter. Nicole Bird was Westfield’s trump card, scoring 10 of their 22 points.

Another closely-fought game saw Premier Division high-fliers Higham Band beat Rothborough Arrows 23-17 but overall victory was not finally secured until the first end of the doubles.

The star player was veteran David Steele, producing some excellent defensive play to bring back memories of his performances for the England cricket team as he scored over 50 per cent of Arrows’ 17 points.

Jim Chatburn and Barry Davis both surprisingly whitewashed Gareth Lewis for Town B to race into a 12-4 lead over Rothborough Comets.

With most of the remaining games being shared, the scoreline finished 24-16 in Town B’s favour. Scoring 11 of Town’s points, skipper Chatburn proved to be their match winner.

Rothborough Exocets had a similar 24-16 victory over Burton Baptist C but this match was not decided until the doubles when Lee Mordecai and Helmut Salander beat David Simmons and Daryl Sutcliffe 4-0.

Baptist C fell apart, only grabbing four points in the last four games when the scores were tied at 12-12.

After struggling at the lower end of Division Two, the Corby E youngsters again excelled in the cup.

Steadily increasing their lead throughout the match, Dan Bottrill, Matt Billington and Nathan Brown produced form way above their league performances and ran out easy 26-14 winners over Division Two leaders Thrapston Harriers. Performances like this should give them more confidence and improve their league position.

Westfield A overwhelmed two-man Burton Baptist D 31-9 and again proved it is impossible to win this competition conceding 12 points.

Rothborough Phantoms also conceded 12 points when having only two players and were beaten 24-16 by club-mates Gladiators. Lauren Ainsworth and Pete Rowbotham scored eight points each but their efforts were in vain without a third player.

Results: Higham Band 23 (Elliott SCR 7-5, Harrison +1 6-6, J Alsop SCR 7-5, Elliott/Alsop 3-1) Rothborough Arrows 17 (Marlow +4 3-9, Steele +7 9-3, P Watts +6 4-5, Marlow/Steele 1-3).

Harborough Athletic 21 (N Thompson +4 10-3, J Allington +4 4-8, Shield +1 5-7, Thompson/Allington 2-2) Thrapston Eagles 20 (Donaldson +3 6-6, Stockley SCR 6-7, Warlicker +2 6-6, Stockley/Warlicker 2-2).

Harborough Diamonds 18 (Brocklebank +2 7-5, Coombs +5 5-7, Pearson +4 3-9, Brocklebank/Coombs 3-1) Westfield C 22 (N Bird SCR 10-2, Wildman +1 5-7, Smalley SCR 6-6 Wildman/Smalley 1-3).

Rothborough Buccaneers 21 (Saywood +5 5-7, Owen +6 8-4, Cross +5 7-5, Saywood/Cross 1-3) Westfield B 19 (Wooding SCR 8-4, Dixon +3 2-10, Hobbs +2 6-6, Wooding/Hobbs 3-1).

Westfield A 31 (K Bird SCR 11-1, Shepherd +6 10-2, Silk SCR 9-3, Bird/Shepherd 1-3) Burton Baptist D (9 Marshall +7 4-8, McNeely +8 2-10, Forfeit 0-12, Marshall/McNeely 3-1).

Thrapston Harriers 14 (Blantern SCR 4-8, Burrows +1 6-6, Stockley SCR 3-9, Blantern/Burrows 1-3) Corby E (26 Bottrill +7 8-4, Billington +7 9-3, Brown +7 6-6 Bottrill/Billington 3-1).

Harborough Rangers 21 (Burnham +1 5-7, R Campbell +2 7-5, Crook +2 7-5, Campbell/Cook 2-2 Corby C 19 (Murie SCR 4-8, Cassidy +2 7-5, Woolston +1 6-6, Murie/Cassidy 2-2)

Burton Baptist C 16 (Simmons +3 8-4, Sutcliffe +2 6-6, Agg +2 2-10, Simmons/Sutcliffe 0-4) Rothborough Exocets 24 (Harrison +5 4-8, Mordecai +7 8-4, Salander +7 8-4, Mordecai/Salander 4-0).

Kettering Town B 24 (Chatburn +4 9-3, Davis +6 7-5, Scrivener +5 6-6, Chatburn/Scrivener 2-2) Rothborough Comets 16 (Lewis SCR 2-10, Brisley SCR 5-7, Linnett +2 7-5, Lewis/Linnett 2-2).

Thrapston Falcons 21 (Payne SCR 8-5, Tyler SCR 4-8, Marray SCR 7-5, Payne/Marray 2-2) Rothborough Dakotas 20 (Smith SCR 6-6, Bradford +7 6-7, T Ravenscroft SCR 6-6, Ravenscroft/Smith 2-2).

Rothborough Phantoms16 (L Ainsworth SCR 7-5, Rowbotham +1 7-5, Forfeit 0-12, Ainsworth/Rowbotham 2-2) Rothborough Gladiators 24 (P Ainsworth +5 7-5, Taylor +5 7-5, Yeomans +3 8-4 Yeomans/Taylor 2-2)

Burton Baptist B 15 Kettering Town A 21.

Corby C 24 Thrapston Kites 16.