Westfield extend their lead at the summit

Kettering Town A's John Fuller
Kettering Town A's John Fuller

Another crucial round of matches in the Kettering & District Table Tennis League Premier Division title race saw Westfield A have extend their lead at the top to five points.

Their latest win came against Arthingworth and the Westfield trio of Kevin Bird, Steve Silk and Roumen Stefanov were in an unforgiving mood as they swept away Gerald Henson, Chris Gibbons and Ray Kingston 10-0 - dropping just three ends in the process.

This was their fifth 10-0 whitewash from only eight fixtures and the champions are looking in ominous form as the winter break nears.

Closest challengers, Burton Baptist A, travelled to previously unbeaten Corby Town A and came away with a solid 7-3 victory.

Dawid Przybysz was Burton’s hero as he remained unbeaten this season with a perfect 21-0 record.

Chris Ross won twice after losing in five ends to Lee O’Boyle and Alex Aston picked up a single win over Chris Haynes who nursed his first blank night of the season.

Higham remain in third position after they completed an 8-2 win at Westfield B.

Nicole Bird offered the most resistance for the defeated Westfield side with wins over Andy Harrison and Richard Bashford, although Matt Rushton (to Richard Elliott) and Antonio Jaraices (to Andy Harrison) were unlucky to lose in fifth end deciders.

Kettering Town A were 8-2 winners over Westfield C with John Fuller and Nigel Metcalfe sharing seven wins between them.

Metcalfe was made to work hard for his treble winning five-end deciders over Dan Smalley and Matt Horrocks. Mike Hawes added an eighth point for Kettering with victory over Horrocks.

The relegation battle came to the fore as the four teams at the lower end of the table clashed. Bottom side Thrapston Eagles were in action against Burton Baptist B who sit one place ahead of them in the table with Corby Town B, third from bottom, facing a Harborough Athletic team just one place better off.

Jacek koltuniuk proved to be the star man in the Burton and Thrapston match with a superb treble.

After seeing off Steve West in four ends and Chris Warliker in three, he found himself 2-0 down to Mark Stockley in a clash of the unbeaten players.

Stockley had beaten Gerry Crasto and Asif Manji very comfortably but couldn’t quite finish off Koltuniuk who recovered to win 11-8 in the decider.

Crasto and Warliker were involved in the match of the week which Crasto eventually won 21-19 in the decider.

Koltuniuk’s treble and Crasto’s two successes gave Burton the advantage going into the doubles but Warliker and Stockley stood firm to ensure a 5-5 draw as both teams avoided defeat for only the second time this season.

The match between Corby Town B and Harborough Athletic also proved to be a close affair which would ultimately finish as a draw to leave the status quo among the bottom four teams unchanged.

It was Corby’s Aaron Moore who took the individual honours with his first ever hat-trick in the Premier Division. Guy Sparrow won twice but went down 11-9 to Nathan Thompson.

The Harborough points were shared around with Barry Thompson and Kevin Shield both winning once and Nathan Thompson winning twice before the Thompsons teamed up to take the doubles to secure their fifth draw from eight outings.

Results: Westfield A 10 (K Bird 3, Silk 3, Stefanov 3, Bird/Stefanov) Arthingworth 0, Corby Town A 3 (O’Boyle 2, Arthur) Burton Baptist A 7 (Przybysz 3, Ross 2, Aston, Przybysz/Aston), Westfield B 2 (N Bird 2) Higham 8 (Elliott 3, Bashford 2, Harrison 2, Elliott/Bashford), Westfield C 2 (Wildman, Smalley) Kettering Town A 8 (Fuller 3, Metcalfe 3, Hawes, Metcalfe/Fuller), Burton Baptist B 5 (Koltuniuk 3, Crasto 2) Thrapston Eagles 5 (Stockley 2, West, Warliker, Stockley/Warliker), Corby Town B 5 (Moore 3, Sparrow 2) Harborough Athletic 5 (N Thompson, B Thompson, Shield, Thompson/Thompson).

Player of the week: Aaron Moore.

With a turbulent and constantly changing Division One table, Harborough Rangers have become the new leaders after taking maximum points while their main rivals have been somewhat restricted in the last two weeks of matches.

Sam Burgess played in two matches on one night at Church Langton for his usual team Harbourough Rovers and helping out his club colleagues Harborough Rangers.

Having not previously achieved a treble this season he won six out of six singles and increased his average from 35 per cent to 48 per cent in the process.

Though it was widely expected that Rangers would beat eighth-placed Burton Baptist D, the 10-0 margin and 10.05pm finish was surprising.

Liam Burnham, Micheal Brocklebank and Sam Burgess all recorded easy trebles.

The only Burton player to offer any resistance was Steve Smith who took both Burgess and Burnham to four ends before going one better in the doubles with Derek Muggleton in the doubles losing in five. The other seven sets were all won by a 3-0 margin.

In contrast, second-placed Thrapston Kites may have expected a more convincing win than 6-4 over seventh-placed Burton Baptist C but it was anything but one-sided as only one set was 3-0 and even this contained two close games.

In 18 of the 42 games, the losing player scored at least nine points with the longest game being 22-20.

This game and the match could have lasted even longer but for Kelvin Marshall’s act of sportsmanship in declining to accept a disputed point when appearing to have the rule book on his side, leading to Stewart Williams winning their fourth game 22-20, the set and the match.

For Kites, Peter Briggs once again came through for a treble but not without facing tough challenges by all three opponents, especially by David Simmons who had led 2-1 before losing in five.

Although the match started promptly at 7.30pm, it went on until 11.20pm due to the length of games and sets.

The clash between Westfield D Thrapston Falcons looked like being a close and hard-fought match.

The final score of 5-5 means it was just that although playing out of sequence, Westfield had gone 5-2 up before Falcons staged a comeback.

Nitin Patel has had a tendency to be inconsistent in the past but so far this season he is yet to have a poor match and an impressive treble against a good side for the loss of only one game has taken him up to 87 per cent.

For Falcons, Ian Baldock beat both Paul Malpass and Chris Alder and teamed up with Anthony Marray to win the doubles by the closest margin, 12-10 in the fifth.

The finish time for this match was 11pm, the time that Weavers’ staff expect the tables to be packed away by. Four of the sets going to five games wont have helped this.

Harborough Rovers took on Harborough Diamonds and with both teams level on points and second and third from bottom, this was a relegation battle crucial to both sides with one of them looking likely for the drop.

And a 5-5 draw keeps them neck and neck on points with Rovers being ahead in the table due to having one more draw.

Sam Burgess was the player of the match with a treble for Rovers for the loss of two games.

For Diamonds, Dave Coombes beat the other two players and with Phil Dixon beating Jamie Burgess and Vaughan Allington beating John McGowan, they had an early 3-1 lead before Rovers started a comeback, winning four of the next five sets to lead 5-4 before Allington and Dixon came together to beat the Burgess brothers in the doubles and earn a draw.

Mid-table Corby C showed their superiority over bottom-placed Thrapston Harriers in the first four sets, only losing one game to go 4-0 up.

After that, Harriers became much more competitive with four of the remaining six sets going to a deciding fifth game.

Alan Tyler got Harriers off the mark in set five, beating Stewart Abraham in 11-7 in the fifth game.

Rob Warrender found it very easy in his first two singles, winning them both 3-0 and conceded an average of 4.5 points per game but perhaps unexpectedly found a much tougher opponent in Marta Honkova but he just got over the line 12-10 in the fifth game.

Honkova, alongside Tyler, did manage to get revenge over Warrender and Stephen Woolston in the doubles, however, and this was almost identical to the Honkova/Warrender singles except this time Harriers won the close fifth end 11-9 to double their score to two.

Results: Harborough Rangers 10 (Burnham 3, Brocklebank 3, S Burgess 3 Burnham/Brocklebank) Burton Baptist D 0, Burton Baptist C (4 Marshall 1, Agg 2, Burnham/Brocklebank) Thrapston Kites 6 (Briggs 3, Williams 2, Judd), Westfield D 5 (Patal 3, Malpass, Alder) Thrapston Falcons 5 (Baldock 2, Payne, Marray, Baldock /Marray), Harborough Rovers 5 (Sam Burgess 3, Jamie Burgess, John McGowan) Harborough Diamonds 5 (Coombs 2, Dixon, Allington, Allington/Dixon), Thrapston Harriers 2 (Tyler, Tyler/Honkova) Corby C 8 (Warrender 3, Woolston 3, Abraham 2).

Player of the week: Sam Burgess.

With the reverse fixtures commencing in Division Two, the progress made by teams during the first third of the season is clear to see.

However, with changes in personnel from all teams this is less comparable.

Perhaps illustrating this best was the 6-4 defeat achieved by Burton Baptist E against Rothborough Exocets when the previous fixture was 9-1.

The only change from that match was Jon Sanders playing for Burton and he contributed to all four successes. After defeat in his first game of the season, Sanders is now unbeaten in his last three matches.

Helmut Salander pushed him hardest in the first game of the night but had to be content with a brace, along with team-mates Tony Yeomans and Sally Taylor.

There was a single change for each side at Church Langton but it made little difference as Comets were too strong for Harborough Imps.

Pete Sturges got revenge for the single defeat in the earlier match to Ron Palfrey and there was no charity on show from the rest of the Rothborough team as Sturges, Alan Brisley and Kelvin Linnett each secured maximums.

David Patmore was particularly unlucky for Imps, losing in five to Linnett, and in the doubles, again to Linnett with Sturges.

It was ladies night at Montsaye with Lauren Ainsworth, Ann Woolston and Cathy Fleming all getting a pair each, with Alan Woolston matching them.

Ann performed the best as, in beating Pete Rowbotham and Ainsworth she upset the new ranking list.

The draw between Dakotas and Kettering B was a fitting result though as it was a close match with five games going the distance.

It finished in dramatic style as well with the final doubles end finishing in the highest score in the division this season, 21-19 to the Woolstons against the Dakota dames.

Remaining from the previous week was Comets visit to Corby, which saw the seasonal debut of stalwart Tom Cardwell and he scored one of Corby’s two points in his first game, a five-ender against Kelvin Linnett.

He was on course to make it two out of two against Alan Brisley but the latter’s tenacious spirit saw him return from two down to take the last three ends 12-10, 11-9, 11-9 on his way to an undefeated night.

Martin Watts matched his feat and Comets remain strong candidates for promotion at this early stage.

Results: Corby 2 (Bottrill, Cardwell) Rothborough Comets 8 (Brisley 3, Watts 3, Linnett, Brisley/Watts), Harborough Imps 0 Rothborough Comets 10 (Brisley 3, Linnett 3, Sturges 3 Linnett/Sturges), Rothborough Dakotas 5 (L Ainsworth 2, Fleming 2, Rowbotham) Kettering B 5 (Al Woolston 2, An Woolston 2, Woolston/Woolston), Rothborough Exocets 6 (Salander 2, Taylor 2, Yeomans 2) Burton Baptist E 4 (Sanders 3, Sanders/Tattersall).

Player of the week: Ann Woolston.

Team of the week: Kettering B.