Westfield close in on the title after titanic clash with Higham

Kevin Bird and his Westfield side are closing in on the Premier Division title
Kevin Bird and his Westfield side are closing in on the Premier Division title

The Westfield club played host to titanic matches as Kettering & District League Premier Division leaders Westfield A played host to second-placed Higham Band, and on an adjacent table Westfield B hosted third-placed Corby Town A.

The match between the top two sides was a classic with some fantastic points played, many excellent rallies and some individual brilliance shown by all six players involved.

After three-and-a-half hours, it was Kevin Bird’s Westfield side that finally came out on top with a 7-3 victory that kept their unbeaten record intact and has probably the title.

Four of the first five rubbers went to a deciding end but Westfield won all of these as they opened up a 5-0 lead, with the clash between Bird and Andy Harrison proving to be the match of the night with Bird finally getting the decision with an 8-11, 11-7, 11-13, 11-7, 23-21 victory.

Bird had earlier got his team off to the perfect start as he edged out Richard Elliott 11-7 in the decider.

Steve Silk saw off the challenge of Mark Nannery 11-6 in the decider to put his side two up, and when Roumen Stefanov beat Harrison 11-7 at the same stage, Westfield had the perfect start.

Bird and Silk went on to complete excellent hat-tricks but Stefanov fell in four ends to both Nannery and Elliott. Elliott’s side won the final five-end battle when he and John Alsop combined to take a doubles success over Bird and Stefanov.

On the adjacent table, Westfield B’s match with Corby Town A was even closer with six of the 10 rubbers going to the deciding end, and 45 out of a possible 50 ends needing to be played.

Brian Wooding was involved in four of these matches, losing to Aiden Smith and then beating Lee O’Boyle and Henry Arthur, before teaming up with Scott Dixon to defeat Smith and Arthur in the match saving doubles.

Matt Rushton was also on form with wins over O’Boyle and Arthur but fell to Aiden Smith 11-9 in the fifth end as the young Corby captain recorded a hard-earned treble in a match that finished with the clock ticking down to 11.30pm.

Burton Baptist A completed a comprehensive 9-1 win over Thrapston Eagles with Dariusz Gulbicki and Chris Ross sharing seven wins between them and Alex Aston winning twice. Mark Stockley prevented the whitewash with a battling win over Aston.

Stockley was also in action for Thrapston SAS and again it was his solitary success that prevented the whitewash against Kettering Town A.

John Fuller and Carl Leeson were both on the treble trail for Kettering but with the score at 8-0, Stockley secured a point for SAS with a victory over Mike Hawes.

Results: Westfield A 7 (Bird 3, Silk 3, Stefanov) Higham Band 3 (Elliott, Nannery, Elliott/Alsop), Westfield B 5 (Wooding 2, Rushton 2, Wooding/Dixon) Corby Town A 5 (Smith 3, O’Boyle, Arthur), Thrapston Eagles 1 (Stockley) Burton Baptist A 9 (Gulbicki 3, Ross 3, Aston 2. Gulbicki/Ross), Thrapston SAS 1 (Stockley) Kettering Town A 9 (Fuller 3, Leeson 3, Hawes 2, Fuller/Hawes).

After a run of 25 games, Aaron Moore’s unbeaten start to the season in Division One of the Kettering & District League finally came to an end when he fell in straight ends to Chris Haynes in an all-Corby clash.

While Haynes went on to complete a treble for Corby C, two wins each for Moore, Rob Warrender and Stephen Woolston put the B team ahead before Moore and Woolston edged past Ryan Cassidy and Kyle Murie 12-10 in the 5th end of the doubles to secure a 7-3 win.

Things didn’t start well for Arrows with Julian Marlow and David Steele turning up at Corby only to find they should have been at Thrapston.

While Helen Watts had gone to the correct venue, she found Kites’ Peter Briggs in fine form and fell in straight ends. Briggs did drop an end to both Marlow and Steele on the way to completing his treble.

However, Marlow and Watts both won twice before combining to take the doubles to leave the match all-square.

Briggs also won his first two games against promotion-chasing Westfield C before meeting the other unbeaten player on the night, Nicole Bird.

Bird took a tight first end 12-10 before completing her treble in straight ends. The tightest match of the night saw Stewart Williams come back from two ends down to defeat Geoff Judd 11-9 in the decider. Williams and Tom Wildman both won twice before Wildman joined Bird to take the doubles and leave the Wellingborough team 8-2 winners.

Arrows only managed to field two players against title chasing Corby B who themselves were without skipper Moore.

While Watts and Marlow both won twice, neither were able to defeat Rob Warrender. Marlow and Watts did however combine to take the doubles against Warrender and Woolston to leave the match tied at 5-5.

Before retiring to Crete several years ago, John McGowan was a regular in the Kettering League. Now back, he recorded the first wins for his new team, Harborough Diamonds, when recording a double against Burton D.

While Darryl Sutcliffe and James Young each won once for Burton, they could not stop Liam Burnham recording a treble before he combined with Crook to take the doubles to leave Diamonds 8-2 winners.

Buccaneers’ Brett Owen produced his best form of the season to beat Burton C’s Derek Muggleton and Steve Smith in straight ends.

However, Chris Agg and Muggleton also won twice and combined to add the doubles to secure Burton a 6-4 win.

Corby C showed no mercy against a two-player Falcons side, taking the first five singles played in straight ends.

The final singles did go the full five ends before Alan Tyler finally got Falcons’ first point of the night with an 11-9 victory over Kyle Murie. Murie, partnered by Ryan Cassidy, took the doubles against Tyler and Nigel Payne as Corby C recorded a 9-1 win.

Results: Thrapston Kites 5 (Briggs 3, Goodman, Judd) Rothborough Arrows 5 (Marlow 2, H Watts 2, Marlow/H Watts), Corby B 7 (Moore 2, Warrender 2, Woolston 2, Moore/Woolston) Corby C 3 (Haynes 3), Westfield C 8 (Bird 3, Wildman 2, Williams 2, Bird/Wildman) Thrapston Kites 2 (Briggs 2), Rothborough Arrows 5 (Marlow 2, H Watts 2, Marlow/H Watts) Corby B 5 (Warrender 3, Hunt, Woolston), Burton Baptist D 2 (Sutcliffe, Young) Harborough Diamonds 8 (Burnham 3, Crook 2, McGowan 2, Burnham/Crook), Rothborough Buccaneers 4 (Owen 2, Saywood, P Watts) Burton Baptist C 6 (Agg 2, Muggleton 2, Smith, Agg/Muggleton), Corby C 9 (Haynes 3, Cassidy 3, Murie 2, Cassidy/Haynes) Thrapston Falcons 1 (Tyler).

It was nip and tuck between Rothborough Phantoms and Harborough Imps in their mid-table Division Two clash at Montsaye and after six games it was level.

Then Imps accelerated away for a 7-3 victory, reversing the result from earlier in the year, and Jamie Burgess’ pair included a last-gasp revenge win over Helmut Salander.

Burgess – now winning more than 50 per cent of his games - had some very close ends all night but in his victory over Tony Yeomans he got the better of the first, third and fifth-end deuces to sneak the spoils.

Mark Pearson wasn’t troubled for his fifth treble from eight starts and Ron Palfrey’s defeat of Lee Mordecai ultimately sealed the victory which put them just one point behind their opponents.

Despite only mustering two players again, Thrapston Harriers fought hard against third-placed Rothborough Dakotas for very little reward.

There were no straight-end victories and five of the seven games went to a decider with Harriers’ Mike Burrows winning the closest, 15-13 against Peter Rowbotham. Dakotas took all the other singles but Burrows teamed up with Paul Blantern – who had an unusually blank night – to gain the home team their second point, again in five.

Muriel Cox’s continued absence through illness is still limiting Thrapston Harriers to two players but it was still straightforward in their re-arranged fixture with Rothborough Gladiators.

Tony Yeomans made Mike Burrows work hardest with two deuce games but Burrows still got his third treble and Paul Blantern his fifth in their 7-3 victory.

Pete Scrivener chose the wrong week to make his seasonal debut for Kettering Town B when league leaders Rothborough Comets visited Weavers.

It was Comets’ fifth whitewash and Town’s worst defeat but Ann Woolston made Ivor Jones come back from two down and Jim Chatburn forced Pete Sturges into a decider before they could take all the spoils.

It was a win apiece for the Rothborough Gladiators’ Edward West, Lewis Patterson and Tony Yeomans when they visited Islip to play Thrapston Hawks.

Alfie Wright and Joe Kent won their third and second hat-tricks respectively and sealed the doubles to remain unbeaten on the night, although West pushed Wright hard when winning the third end of their match 15-13 before finally succumbing. After overtaking Baptist E in week 11, Hawks are slowly putting distance between themselves and the bottom two now.

Rothborough Phantoms won the first and last games, but club-mates Dakotas won the rest in their match for an 8-2 victory.

Phantoms’ Lee Mordecai had an excellent night though, starting off with a win over Gareth Lewis, 26 places higher in the rankings, finishing with a victory in the doubles with Helmut Salander over otherwise unbeaten Kelvin Linnett and Pete Rowbotham, and nearly came back from two down against Linnett. Rowbotham won his first maximum since the first week of the season and Linnett his third consecutive treble.

Corby D matched Dakotas to stay five points ahead of them, and Keith McLaren’s fifth treble from six outings was the standout result but as often is the case there was a lot more to the story.

Thrapston Harriers’ two players only lost one game in straight ends – and all of them went to deuce – Paul Blantern’s victories went the full distance, Mike Burrows lost from two up to Tom Cardwell and the doubles also went to five, with McLaren and Andrew Dorrian squeezing through. Dorrian and Cardwell have got identical 67 per cent winning records, while McLaren is on 83 per cent.

Rothborough Exocets’ Sean Smith continued his good form with his ninth singles win running, including the scalp of James Young, 25 places higher, while team-mates Pete Ainsworth and Martin Bradford had their best results of the season with doubles in their 8-2 defeat of Burton Baptist E.

Ainsworth almost made it a treble with a close 9-11 defeat to Young after being two ends down.

Results: Burton Baptist E 2 (Young 2) Rothborough Exocets 8 (Smith 3, P Ainsworth 2, Bradford 2, Bradford/Smith) Corby D 8 (McLaren 3, Cardwell 2, Dorrian 2, Dorrian/McLaren) Thrapston Harriers2 (Blantern 2), Kettering B 0 Rothborough Comets 10 (Jones 3, Simmons 3, Sturges 3, Simmons/Sturges), Rothborough Dakotas 8 (Linnett 3, Rowbotham 3, Lewis 2) Rothborough Phantoms 2 (Mordecai, Mordecai/Salander), Rothborough Phantoms 3 (Mordecai, Salander, Yeomans) Harborough Imps 7 (Pearson 3, Burgess 2, Palfrey, Burgess/Pearson), Thrapston Harriers 2 (Burrows, Blantern/Burrows) Rothborough Dakotas 8 (Lewis 3, Linnett 3, Rowbotham 2, Lewis/Linnett), Thrapston Harriers 7 (Blantern 3, Burrows 3, Blantern/Burrows) Rothborough Gladiators 3 (G Patterson, L Patterson, Yeomans), Thrapston Hawks 7 (Kent 3, A Wright 3, Kent/A Wright) Rothborough Gladiators 3 (L Patterson, West, Yeomans).

Player of the week: Lee Mordecai.

Team of the week: Westfield A.

The entry forms for the annual tournament on Saturday, March 9 are now available.

Players should speak to their team captain or a member of the league committee if they have not received an entry form.