Young county stars impress in pre-season clash

Alec Francis helped reigning champions Brampton Heath beat Oundle in Group B of the Hollingsworth Trophy
Alec Francis helped reigning champions Brampton Heath beat Oundle in Group B of the Hollingsworth Trophy

A young Northamptonshire men’s side displayed their qualities in difficult windy conditions at Cold Ashby as they defeated Bedfordshire 8½-3½ in a pre-season friendly.

With team places up for grabs in the Anglian League and Eastern Counties this season, an experimental Northants outfit made a decent start as they led 2½-1½ after the morning foursomes.

The home side came into their own in the afternoon singles as Miles Mudge (3&2), Tom Forster (one hole) and the impressive Ben Jones (7&6) all collected their second wins on the day.

Sam Henfrey, Taylor Sargeant and Tom Burgh completed the scoring by clinching the final three points with three holes to spare.

The opening Anglian League fixture is against Suffolk on Sunday, May 10.

Hollingsworth Trophy

Group A

Stoke Albany secured a couple of narrow wins in games one and three as they ended their six-match Hollingsworth Trophy losing streak with a 4-1 home success against Whittlebury Park.

Anthony Broadbelt and Steve Lang bagged a consolation point for Whittlebury with a comfortable win in the final tie.

Group B

Reigning champions Brampton Heath bounced back from their 4-1 home defeat to Northampton the previous weekend with a victory by the same scoreline at Oundle.

The match was evenly poised after the opening couple of games as Brampton’s Ben Jones and Mark Halliday (4&3) and Oundle’s Norman Emery and Christopher Hankins (3&2) grabbed wins.

Alec Francis and Dean Montgomery gave Brampton the lead, before the visitors clinched the next two points on the 18th hole.

Group C

Kingsthorpe needed a play-off to seal a 3-2 away win at Cherwell Edge as Kris Spence and Gavin Hitchcock beat Sean Lapper and Luis Witherall on the third extra hole.

Although the hosts took the first and last ties, points for Jake Croxford and Jason Spence (4&3) and Louis Wixon and Jack Walding, who won the closing two holes, helped clinch the Kingsthorpe victory.

Cold Ashby proved too strong for Rushden in their opening home match as they secured a 4-1 victory.

Team captain Stuart Nicholas and Paul Askew took the first tie 4&2, Jack Hall and Brad Green doubled the home advantage on the 17th hole, before Fraser Carnihan and Gareth Dolman confirmed the Ashby win.

Graham Bott and Jim Wallis enjoyed a convincing victory in the final tie, but the home side couldn’t complete a whitewash as Steve Alexander and Stuart Carvell beat Jim Burberry and Stuart Thomas in extra holes.

Group D

Priors Hall made a stunning start to the season as they secured five narrow wins to complete a whitewash victory at Collingtree Park.

Callum Farr and Anthony Lamond defeated Conor Rosling and Andrew Denis on the 18th in the opening tie, Tommy Hamilton and Cullen MacCallum doubled the lead, before Marc Asher and Ryan Genner confirmed the away victory.

With points difference possibly being crucial in qualification for the semi-finals, Priors completed the perfect day as Darren Buchan and Pete Dee won the 18th while Ryan Jaffray and Trevor Shiells took the last game on the same hole.

Wellingborough were also successful on their travels as they came out on top by the scoreline 4-1 at Staverton Park.

Although home duo Michael Franklin and Russell Brown took game one on the closing hole, it was only after Wellingborough’s Duncan Cornish and Duncan Felce had walked in with a 5&4 victory under their belts.

Tom Cheevers and Michael Garside (3&2) added another away point, Paul Saunders and Adam Sherlock (2&1) made it 3-1, before Jon Harris and Chris Howes completed the scoring with a 5&4 success.

Ladies Scratch League

Wellingborough needed to show all their fighting spirit in the opening match of the season as they recorded a 2-1 victory against Whittlebury Park at Kingsthorpe.

Whittlebury’s Christina Hancock beat Mary MacLaren on the second extra hole in the opening tie, but the reigning champions secured the other two points on the 17th as Ellie Darnell beat Kerry Sumner and Gill Snelson overcame Gill Long..