Reigning champions well set to retain the crown

Steve Crook won twice for Harborough Rangers in their 6-4 win over Thrapston Kites in Division One
Steve Crook won twice for Harborough Rangers in their 6-4 win over Thrapston Kites in Division One

Westfield A are in pole position at the halfway stage of the Kettering & District Table Tennis League Premier Division season as they look to retain the title they won last year.

In their latest fixture, Kettering Town A provided strong opposition but they could not prevent the Wellingborough team from completing the first half of the season with an unbeaten record.

Steve Silk was the star man again for Westfield with a hat-trick but only after overcoming his old adversary John Fuller in a five-end battle.

Kevin Bird won twice and Roumen Stefanov once with Kettering’s responses coming from Fuller (2) and Mike Hawes.

Higham gained some ground on Westfield as they saw off struggling Corby Town B 9-1.

Richard Bashford and Andy Harrison both recorded trebles, though Harrison was pushed hard by Michael Clarke before eventually being successful in five ends.

Clarke picked up Corby’s solitary point by fighting back from 2-1 down to defeat Mark Nannery in the decider.

Westfield C and Westfield B fought out a 5-5 draw, the highlight of the night being Brian Wooding’s treble for the B side for the loss of just two ends.

Stefan Dabev and Matthew Rushton both won once to add to Wooding’s treble, but two wins apiece from Dan Smalley and Nicole Bird meant the match would be decided in the doubles, which the C team pairing of Bird and Smalley took to ensure the draw.

After the match it was noted that Dabev was ineligible to play and so his single win was awarded to the opposition and the match score changed to leave the C team 6-4 victors.

Burton Baptist A ensured that they remained in second place with a 7-3 victory over Arthingworth.

Chris Ross recorded another treble and he was well supported by Alex Aston and Dariusz Gulbicki who both won twice.

Chris Gibbons was involved in all three wins for Arthingworth, picking up two singles victories and then teaming up with Michael Edwards to take the doubles.

Results: Kettering Town A 3 (Fuller 2, Hawes) Westfield A 7 (Silk 3, K Bird 2, Stefanov. Bird/Stefanov), Higham 9 (Bashford 3, Harrison 3, Nannery 2, Bashford/Nannery) Corby Town B 1 (Clarke), Westfield C 6 (Smalley, N Bird, T Wildman, Bird/Smalley) Westfield B (Wooding 3, Rushton), Arthingworth 3 (Gibbons 2, Edwards/Gibbons) Burton Baptist A 7 (Ross 3, Gulbicki 2, Aston 2).

Both Rangers and Kites were without their top player when the sides met at Church Langton in Division One.

In the first match of the night, Harborough’s replacement Ross Campbell found the going tough against the pimples of Paul Goodman, eventually going down 11-9 in the fifth end.

Goodman also won the only other match to go to five ends when he defeated Steve Crook in the decider 12-10.

In between, Goodman went down in straight ends to Vaughan Allington, who in turn lost out to Kites’ replacement Alan Tyler in four ends. While Campbell, Crook and Allington all won twice, it was Goodman and Geoff Judd who took the doubles, leaving Rangers 6-4 winners.

Having won their first nine matches of the season, leaders Thrapston Eagles found themselves 3-1 and 5-3 down against a Corby C side looking to improve their own promotion chances.

Mark Stockley had opened Eagles’ account when he came back from 2-1 down to beat Stephen Woolston 12-10 in the fifth end and completed his treble dropping just one more end.

Woolston, however, returned to beat both Chris Warliker and Ian Donaldson in four ends and, with Nigel Hunt also winning twice and Kyle Murie once, Corby led 5-4 going into the doubles.

Stockley and Warliker eventually maintained Eagles’ unbeaten start to the season when they took the doubles 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 10-12, 14-12 against Woolston and Hunt.

Arrows strengthened their hold on second place with a 9-1 win over Falcons with Alan Tyler recording the Thrapston side’s only point when he defeated Paul Watts in four ends.

Watts was taken the distance in his other two matches before overcoming both Nigel Payne and Paul Blantern.

Payne also led Julian Marlow 2-1 before the Rothborough player came back to extend his unbeaten start to the season to 18 games.

Helen Watts completed her treble, dropping just one end before she combined with Marlow to add the doubles in straight ends.

Results: Harborough Rangers 6 (V Allington 2, R Campbell 2, Crook 2) Thrapston Kites 4 (Goodman 2, A Tyler, Goodman/Judd), Corby C 5 (Woolston 2, Hunt 2, Murie) Thrapston Eagles 5 (Stockley 3, Warliker, Stockley/Warliker), Thrapston Falcons 1 (A Tyler) Rothborough Arrows 9 (Marlow 3, H Watts 3, P Watts 2, Marlow/H Watts).

Harborough Imps put out a strong team against second-placed Harriers in Division Tw and it paid off with four points more than their earlier whitewash.

John McGowan got two but couldn’t beat Alan Tyler who was untroubled again for his eighth hat-trick from 10 matches.

Jamie Burgess was involved in the two games that went the distance, winning from two down against Paul Blantern and repeating his pattern of slow starts. He also paired with McGowan for an impressive doubles victory in four ends against Blantern and Mike Burrows, who had earlier beaten Burgess in five.

Tony Yeomans was involved in all the matches that went all the way when Gladiators visited Kettering Town B, beating Barry Davis and then Ann Woolston on a deuce final end.

But he couldn’t overcome Pete Scrivener who was imperious in gaining his first treble this year, having not scored more than one victory in any match so far this season. Otherwise, Davis and Woolston cleared up with a brace each, Davis’ being his first victories this season.

Burton Baptist D extended their lead with a fifth whitewash of the season when they visited Corby.

Burton’s maximum men – Nick Loake’s second treble from four starts, Steve Smith’s sixth from 10 and Kelvin Marshall’s ninth from 10 – were too strong for the rapidly improving Corby outfit but Dan Bottrill (Ranked 112) was ahead of Smith (ranked 68) before Smith forced a final-end victory.

The previous week saw Corby E’s Matt Billington win his first ever singles match, against Lee Mordecai of Exocets who is ranked 25 places higher, and he did it the hard way coming from two sets down after losing the first 18-16.

Ray Harrison and Phil Tomlin were relatively untroubled in maintaining their winning records of over 70 per cent.

Exocets followed up their win the previous week with a better victory over club-mates Dakotas, 8-2.

Sean Smith got the double for Dakotas but couldn’t better Ray Harrison who, after his last-end defeat of higher-ranked Smith, secured his sixth maximum from 10 starts.

Helmut Salander beat Will Ravenscroft and Phil Tomlin had to come from two ends down to also beat Ravenscroft to achieve their doubles.

Salander and Martin Bradford played out the game of the night though when the former squeezed past 10-12, 18-16, 12-10, 19-17.

Results: Corby E 0 Burton Baptist D 10 (Loake 3, Marshall 3, Smith 3, Marshall/Smith), Harborough Imps 4 (McGowan 2, Burgess, Burgess/McGowan) Thrapston Harriers 6 (A Tyler 3, Burrows 2, Blantern), Kettering Town B 8 (Scrivener 3, Davis 2, An Woolston 2, Davis/Sctivener) Rothborough Gladiators 2 (Yeomans 2), Rothborough Dakotas 2 (Smith 2) Rothborough Exocets 8 (Harrison 3, Salander 2, Tomlin 2, Harrison/Salander), Rothborough Exocets 9 (Harrison 3, Tomlin 3, Mordecai 2, Harrison/Mordecai) Corby E 1 (M Billington).

Player of the week: Brian Wooding.

Team of the week: Rothborough Exocets.