Relegation fears eased after a mammoth contest

Nigel Metcalfe was at the double for Kettering Town A
Nigel Metcalfe was at the double for Kettering Town A

Burton Baptist B beat Harborough A 6-4 in a mammoth encounter as both teams eased their relegation fears in the Premier Division of the Kettering & District Table Tennis League.

Martin Hall and Jacek Koltuniuk claimed trebles with Harborough’s points coming from wins by Barry Thompson, Nathan Thompson and Kevin Shield over Nash Hooda as well as a doubles success.

It could have been a priceless win for the away side had they not lost three deciding-end games, with five on the night going the distance.

Following the withdrawal of Arthingworth after the death of Chris Gibbons earlier in the season, only one team could be relegated and Rothborough Arrows look consigned to the drop after they lost 10-0 to Higham.

The trio of Richard Elliott, Richard Bashford and John Alsop – making his first start of the season – were all too good for the hosts, who won just three ends in the match.

The defeats leaves the Arrows 11 points short of Harborough having played a game more and 17 behind Baptist B.

Burton Baptist A revived their hopes of a top-four place after beating Corby B 8-2 at Kingswood.

Baptist won three games 3-2 having trailed 2-1 with Dariusz Gulbicki beating Chris Robertson, Alex Aston seeing off Guy Sparrow and Aston and Chris Ross claiming the doubles.

Aston and Ross were both unbeaten with Corby’s points coming from wins by Sparrow and Henry Arthur over Gulbicki.

Tony West’s magnificent maximum proved to be in vain as Kettering Town A beat two-man Corby Smash 7-3.

West saw off Shandor Czuczor, Nigel Metcalfe and John Fuller for the loss of just one end, although Adam Wilson couldn’t add to the tally.

Had Colin Wilson been available for the visitors, it could have been even closer.

Results: Burton Baptist B 6 (Hall 3, Koltuniuk 3) Harborough A 4 (B Thompson, N Thompson, Shield, B Thompson/Shield), Rothborough Arrows 0 Higham 10 (Elliott 3, Bashford 3, Alsop 3, Bashford/Elliott), Corby B 2 (Sparrow, Arthur) Burton Baptist A 8 (Aston 3, Ross 3, Gulbicki, Aston/Ross), Kettering Town A 7 (Czuczor 2, Fuller 2, Metcalfe 2, Fuller/Metcalfe) Corby Smash 3 (West 3).

Team of the week: Burton Baptist A.

Player of the week: Tony West.

Leaders Thrapston Eagles beat bottom markers Rothborough Comets 10-0 in Division One and although that scoreline was expected nothing is ever certain.

The resultant eight-point lead at the summit is a big one with only four matches remaining and only a couple of shock defeats will deny them the title now.

For Comets, Lee Rowbotham put up a good fight when going down in four close games to both Mark Stockley and Steve West and Lauren Ainsworth managed one against Chris Warliker, but other than that it was plain sailing for the leaders.

Second-placed Westfield C were denied the big win they would have hoped for when only beating Rothborough Buccaneers 7-3.

Although Steve Hobbs got his expected treble for the loss of one game to stay on top of the averages, Buccaneers’ Sean Smith got the better of Paul Malpass and Chris Alder and Ivor Jones accounted for Alder.

Three vital points keep Buccaneers six above Harborough D and the relegation zone.

Third-placed Harborough B reduced the gap by one point to six below Westfield C by beating Burton Baptist C 8-2.

Despite the scoreline there were two notable performances from Burton players at either end of the age spectrum.

Returning from a break David Simmons had a fine win over Mike Brocklebank and teenager Harry Lade enhanced his growing reputation with a 3-0 victory over Steve Crook and had he held onto a 2-0 lead over Liam Burnham, it would have been his best win so far.

But Burnham made a comeback and completed it by the closest possible margin of 15-13 in the fifth game.

Harborough D were gifted three points as Burton Baptist D could only find two players.

However, those were the only points they got as none of Dave Coombs, Phil Dixon or Jamie Burgess could quite get over the line against Steve Smith and Chris Agg despite them both being taken to five games twice.

Thrapston Falcons took on Harborough C and continue to hold onto fourth place by the narrowest of margins above club rivals Kites thanks to another treble by Ian Baldock.

In the first set of the night he was involved in a five-game thriller with Sam Burgess when he eventually won the decider 17-15.

Sam made up for this with 3-1 wins over both Nigel Payne and Alan Tyler but nobody went home empty handed as all four of Jamie Burgess, Mark Pearson, Payne and Tyler got a single win.

Baldock remained unbeaten on the night, winning the doubles with Tyler to seal a 6-4 win for the team.

Without regular Stewart Williams, Thrapston Kites beat Corby C 7-3 thanks to Peter Briggs and Bob Hickson after they were both unbeaten in singles and doubles together.

All three of Rob Warrander, Stephen Woolston and Dan Bottrill beat Geoff Judd although Woolston had to come from 1-2 down.

Results: Thrapston Eagles 10 (Stockley 3, West 3, Warliker 3, Stockley/Warliker) Rothborough Comets 0, Rothborough Buccaneers 3 (Smith 2, Jones) Westfield C 7 (Hobbs 3, Malpass 2, Alder, Hobbs/Malpass), Burton Baptist C 2 (Lade, Simmons) Harborough B 8 (Burnham 3, Brocklebank 2, Crook 2), Harborough D 3 (Coombs, Dixon, Burgess) Burton Baptist D 7 (Smith 3, Agg 3, Smith/Agg), Harborough C 4 (S Burgess 2, J Burgess, Pearson) Thrapston Falcons 6 (Baldock 3, Payne, Tyler, Baldock/Tyler), Thrapston Kites 7 (Briggs 3, Hickson 3, Briggs/Hickson) Corby C 3 (Warrander, Woolston, Bottrill).

Player of the week: Bob Hickson

Team of the week: Rothborough Buccaneers

Corby D may have derailed Rothborough Dakotas bid for promotion in Division Two with a stunning 10-0 whitewash.

Ken Knott, Tom Cardwell and Neil Stone played exceptionally well, especially as David Steele was on the other side of the table and had his first blank night.

Stone was the pick as he took part in the only three games over in three ends, although he finished one 15-13 and another 16-14.

Knott and Cardwell had to go to five once each against Pete Rowbotham and Tony Yeomans respectively and four in the others so it was not as clear-cut as the scoreline suggests.

Harborough E kept the pressure up on Dakotas with another 9-1 win over Westfield D.

Sidney Wright beat Ron Palfrey for the second time this season to keep up her one in three record but Evie Elliott’s five-end defeat to Ben Baker meant it was all Westfield could muster.

John McGowan got his customary treble but Baker got his first hat-trick having played all 18 matches of the season.

There was a seasonal debut for Old in the form of Andrew Hamson, supported Beth Tyler and Mike Burrows, but he was unable to trouble the scorers against table topping Burton Baptist Team Jim.

Tyler had one of her least successful weeks but Burrows eked out a double courtesy of a 13-11 deciding end win over Jacob Tattersall.

The pick of Ben Freeman’s pair was an impressive five-end victory over Tyler, 12 places higher, and Harry Lade only dropped an end against Burrows; the 7-3 result keeps them seven points ahead.

Jim Chatburn achieved his fourth maximum, including against higher ranked Lee Mordecai, to lead Kettering Town B to a 6-4 defeat of Rothborough Exocets and cemented their place above them in the table, having won two of their three encounters this season.

Ann Woolston was unlucky in not getting a hat-trick having won one but lost the other two in five; Barry Davis won his five-ender as one of his brace.

Exocets’ Sally Taylor went to five in all of hers, winning well against Woolston and then pairing up with Mordecai to come from two down in the doubles, spoiling Chatburn’s perfect night.

Results: Corby D 10 (Cardwell 3, Knott 3, Stone 3, Knott/Stone) Rothborough Dakotas 0, Old Village 3 (Burrows 2, Tyler) Burton Baptist Team Jim 7 (H Lade 3, Freeman 2, Tattersall, Freeman/H Lade), Rothborough Exocets 4 (Mordecai 2, Taylor, Mordecai/Taylor) Kettering Town B 6 (Chatburn 3, Davis 2, An Woolston), Westfield D 1 (Wright) Harborough E 9 (Baker 3, McGowan 3, Palfrey 2, Baker/McGowan).

Player of the week: Ben Baker.

Team of the week: Corby D.