Westfield to take on Eagles after two close battles
Following two nail-biting finishes, Westfield A will play Division One champions-elect Thrapston Eagles in the final of the Kettering & District Table Tennis League's Millman Salver.
Division Two strugglers Kettering Town B battled bravely against Westfield with the match being decided in the final game of the doubles.
After four games the scores were level at 8-8 but Steve Silk, Nicole Bird and Kevin Bird slowly edged in front to open up a 20-16 lead after the nine singles had been played.
The one point needed for victory now seemed a formality with Westfield’s doubles successes at 90 per cent and Kettering’s only 20 per cent.
Ann Woolston and Jim Chatburn took the first three ends 11-1, 11-5, 11-6 and a play-off looked to be on the cards but Nicole Bird and Silk held their nerve to take the fourth end 12-10 after the Town pair had two game points at 10-8.
The other semi-final between Thrapston Eagles and Rothborough Comets was even closer and needed a play-off to find a winner.
Ian Donaldson gave Eagles a 3-1 lead against Kelvin Linnett but Pete Rowbotham quickly despatched Chris Warliker 4-0 to give Comets a 5-3 advantage.
Three times Eagles drew level but each time Comets opened up a two-point lead and after nine singles were still leading 19-17.
Kelvin Linnett and Lauren Ainsworth took the first end of the doubles 12-10 for a 20-17 lead but Ian Donaldson and Mark Stockley fought back to take the next three 11-9, 11-8, 11-5.
Eagles eventually made the final with Donaldson just edging out the unlucky Ainsworth 12-10, 9-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-7 for the deciding twenty first point.
Results: Westfield A 21 (Silk (SCR) 9/3, N Bird (SCR) 3/9, K Bird (SCR) 8/4, N Bird/Silk (SCR) 1/3) Kettering Town B 19 (Chatburn (+8) 4/8, Davis (+9) 8/4, Woolston (+8) 4/8, Chatburn/Woolston (+8) 3/1), Thrapston Eagles 21 (Donaldson (+1) 10/3, Warliker (SCR) 2/10, Stockley (SCR) 6/6, Donaldson/Stockley (SCR) 3/1) Rothborough Comets 20 (Linnett (+6) 7/5, Rowbotham (+7) 7/5, Ainsworth (+5) 5/7, Ainsworth/Linnett (+5) 1/3).
Having failed to win a league match all season, Westfield D’s Shirley Everard Points Cup success continued as they booked a place in the final with a narrow 13-point victory over Harborough D.
The all-girl trio of Sidney Wright, Evie Elliott and Bronwen Grigg battled away against their very experienced opponents and victory was assured when Wright and Elliott took the eight points required from the first end of doubles.
Game nine between Wright and Vaughan Allington proved decisive when she won 26 points instead of the 16 set by the handicappers.
Harborough E will be Westfield’s opponents following their 449-358 victory over Division Two champions-elect Burton Baptist Team Jim.
After four games, Team Jim’s task of overcoming their 80-point deficit from the handicappers looked well on course having already reduced it to 45.
But from game five onwards the match was transformed with Ron Palfrey and Ben Baker performing well above their rankings and league form.
Once on the back foot Team Jim did not win another rubber until the doubles having previously taken three of the first four.
Palfrey was Harborough’s match winner scoring 111 points to his opponents 104.
Results: Westfield D (+260) 433 (Wright 67/126, Elliott 57/126, Grigg 29/126, Elliott/Wright 20/42) Harborough D (SCR) 420 (Coombs 126/49, Allington 126/61, Dixon 126/43 Dixon/Allington 42/20), Harborough E (+80) 449 (McGowan 105/85, Baker 114/125, Palfrey 111/104, Baker/McGowan 39/44) Burton Baptist Team Jim (SCR) 358 (Lade 120/89, Freeman 99/119, Tattersall 95/122, Lade/Tattersall 44/39).
The Borough Trophy Final will be contested by Westfield B and Rothborough Dakotas after their narrow victories over Higham and Old Village respectively.
Higham quickly established a 3-1 lead with two wins from Richard Bashford and one from Andy Harrison with Sam Wildman replying for Westfield.
The pendulum then swung the other way with Westfield taking the next four games for a 5-3 victory.
Harrison was beaten by both Matt Rushton and Wildman and Dan Smalley clinched victory when Bashford’s only defeat and a narrow 22-20 third-end win over the unlucky Richard Elliott.
The second semi-final between was another closely fought battle with Dakotas running out 5-3 victors.
The scores were level at 3-3 after six singles with four of these being decided in third-end deuces.
Pete Rowbotham was Dakotas’ star player, winning all three games with the other two victories coming from Anthony Yeomans.
Old Village replied through Mike Burrows, with two, and Richard Dybal’s single.
Results: Westfield B 5 (Rushton (+5), Wildman (+2) 2, Smalley (+2) 2) Higham 3 (Bashford (+2) 2, Harrison (+5)), Rothborough Dakotas 5 (Rowbotham (+4) 3, Yeomans (+6) 2 Old Village 3 (Burrows (SCR) 2, Dybal (+12)).