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The first half of the season for all six of Northerns’ Squash Teams was completed on Thursday night, writes Club Captain Mark Harrop.
The First Team were at home against SFX and finished the match with maximum points. Straight Sets wins for Peter Wake and Mick Henderson were followed by victories for John Sumner, Alex Kitten and finally Peter Stanton, who defeated a former Northern Club Champion, David Cain. The First Team lie just 8 points off top spot, and promotion looks certain with performances like this.
The Second Team travelled to Widnes where they suffered a surprised defeat. Early victories for Darren Cochrane and Andy Chanter couldn’t be added to, as Steve Wildgoose, Tom Stevenson and Gary Powell all failed to win their matches.
The table topping Third Team took on second placed Cheshire Officers and showed just what a force they are when at full strength. The double act of Jack Riley and the supremely confident Jase Cunningham led the way, with returning Captain Graham Lynch also in commanding form. Further wins for Harry Vidal and DJ Salt ensured a rampant win and leaves the team ten points clear at the top. Salt has now won more matches for the Club this season than anyone else, and has surely put himself forward as an early candidate for Player of the Season. The one main concern, however, for Captain Lynch, will be how he can fit Mark Redman into this team when he returns to fitness.
The Fourth Team endured a tough night at Southport, where both Cat Cunningham and Amy Barnes returned to winning ways. However, Dave Cookson lost a close match and neither Col Rogers or Col Wightman could provide the crucial third victory. The Team, though, lie just two places from an Automatic Promotion place so there is still plenty to play for.
The Fifth Team entertained neighbours Formby at Moor Park and produced an emphatic 5 – 0 win. Col Walker, with his first win of the season, Ade Taiwo, Andrew Beeston and Andrew Allan put the home side 4 – 0 ahead before Captain Steve Rigsby was his normal mean self in defeating his opponent. Rigsby very rarely gives anything away, and this again proved to be the case.
Finally, Captain Alex Dalglishs’ Sixth Team played host to Warrington 7. John Delamere showed why he’ll soon move up the teams with a fine performance, then Ricky Lall put the home team further ahead. Debutant Mark O’Brien lost a close match whilst Jon Fell, although losing, showed even further promise with an excellent display. Returning from a severe injury, Dalglish was desparate to play, however his opponent did not show up.
The second half of the season re-commences on Thursday 3rd January, with all Teams looking to improve their League positions.
Northern First Team travelled to Liverpool Cricket Club as the top two sides played each other. Both sides are unbeaten in the League, so this was always going to be a close match, and so it proved with three of the games going to five sets. First, Captain Bob Sumner went 2 – 0 up against his opponent and served for the match an incredible eight times, but eventually lost. Once Sumner gets his nose in front, there is usually only one winner so this was a major blow. Peter Stanton and Mick Henderson also lost in five sets, before Peter Wake claimed a straight sets victory. Alex Cunningham came close but lost at number one.
The Second Team entertained SFX and got off to a fine start. Heather Tweedle gave the hosts the lead before Captain Tom Stevenson also secured a victory. However the decisive win just wouldn’t follow as Steve Wildgoose, Gary Powell and Andy Chanter all lost.
The Third Team extended their lead at the top of their division with a 4 1 success against third placed Heswall. Tommy Bugle narrowly lost a five setter, before victories for Darren Cochrane, DJ Salt, Jason Cunningham and Jack Riley.
The Fourth Team entertained David Lloyd Knowsley at Moor Park, and match of the night was won by Col Wightman for the home side. Losing 2 – 0, Wightman came back to win 10 – 9 in the final set. Defeats followed though for Colin Rogers, Cat Cunningham and Dave Cookson before Evi Kohl maintained her 100% record.
The Fifth Team made the short journey to Promotion favourites Southport and were given a tough night. Amy Barnes, aiming for victory number 9 of the season, lost a close match, as did Andrew Allan, Ade Taiwo and Andrew Beeston. The bright spot of the night was the return to competitive action for Suzanne Rutherford following 18 months out through injury. Although looking slightly rusty, there were promising signs in her performance.
Finally, the Sixth Team travelled to St Helens with a much changed team. Captain Dalglish, again unavailable through injury, was in confident mood prior to the game, but St Helens proved too strong. A great start for the team in the shape of victory for John Delamere couldn’t be followed up, as defeats followed for Martin Gladwin, Jon Fell, Dave Draper and Colin Walker.
This Thursday 13th sees the final game before a three week break over Christmas before the Leagues resume again in January.
Despite many injuries to senior players, Captain Mark Harrop was able to select 6 teams to represent the Club on Thursday night.
The 1st team continue their march for promotion, with straight set wins for Tommy Bugle, Peter Stanton and the recalled Mick Henderson. Captain Bob Sumner struggled playing higher up the order, but eventually scraped a victory, whilst Alex Cunningham proved too good for his opponent.
The 2nd team travelled to St Helens and would surely have collected maximum points but for injuries to key players. Having gone ahead through victories for Gary Powell and Andy Chanter, Mark Redman, Steve Wildgoose and Harry Vidal all suffered injuries which prevented the team from getting a victory.
The 3rd team, 10 points clear in their league, took on Neston where no player dropped a set. DJ Salt, Darren Cochrane, Jack Riley, Jason Cunningham and Captain Graham Lynch all showed why this team is hot favourites to win the league.
The 4th team travelled to Widnes, and Amy Barnes, unbeaten now for 5 games, demolished her opponent . Colin Wightman added to the early success, but defeats for Mike Cunningham, Dave Cookon and Colin Rogers left Northern deflated.
Captain Rigsbys 5th team produced a standout performance. Andrew Allan, Andrew Beeston and Ade Taiwo all won comfortably, then Captain Rigsby rolled back the years to produce a stunning performance that was too much for his opponent. Only a defeat for debutant Ian Bongos marred a great night for the team.
Finally, the 6th team entertained Liverpool and only Martin Gladwin managed a victory. Defeats for Fred Roberts, Kev Shannon and Col Walker soon followed, but Ian Smillie will be wondering how he managed to lose his match, yet again 10-9 in the final game. The one bright spot for the 6th team was the news that Captain Alec Dalglish and Number 1 Ricky Lall should be fit and available for selection in the next week.
ONLY two teams were in action last Thursday night.
Northern 4 were looking to consolidate their position at the top end of the table, and Northern 5.
The fourth team travelled to Aigburth to play South Bridgefield first team.
Despite an early setback for DJ Salt, captain Darren Cochrane led the fightback, winning his match 3-0.
Both Col Wightman and Col Rogers followed the skipper’s lead and cruised through their contests.
The final clash saw Amy Barnes, unbeaten for four successive matches, prove far too good for her opponent.
Northern’s fifth team entertained high-flying West Lancs first team, and all five players found the going tough.
Former Northern player, Dougie Scholes defeated Andrew Beeston in the first tie of the night, and only skipper Steve Rigsby came close to claiming a victory for the home team.
Further defeats followed for Andrew Allan and Colin Walker, while the previously unbeaten Ade Taiwo found the step up from the sixth team to be just too much.
ALL six teams have fixtures next Thursday evening.