Chris Simpson the hero as Benz Bavarian Duffield pull off unlikely win
By Colston Crawford
CHRIS Simpson played the match of his life to bring home another unlikely Premier Squash League win for Benz Bavarian Duffield, according to team manager Felix Frixou. Simpson came from a game down to beat former world number one James Willstrop and seal a 3-2 away win for Duffield at Pontefract.
“I really didn’t expect Chris to beat James but this team plays like it’s their last game on earth and Chris ground him down,” said Frixou. “We had to dig deep again. This was a strong Pontefract team – they’d be contenders if they could put that team out every time.”
Millie Tomlinson and Richie Fallows were the other winners for Duffield as Frixou again cajoled a winning performance from a weakened side, missing stars Nick Matthew and Laura Massaro.
It means the reigning PSL champions have reached the halfway point of the regular season second in Division A, only one point behind leaders Everards Leicester. University of Birmingham Lions are another point behind, those three teams having established a big gap over the other three – Pontefract, Nottingham and Coolhurst London.
Tuesday night’s match opened with Millie Tomlinson up against Fiona Moverley, who was with Duffield last season and might have been this season, too, so both players had a point to prove. Tomlinson was stretched only in the third game, which went to 16-14, as she whitewashed her opponent.
“We had a bit of a debate about who would be our number two lady this season and it might have been Fiona,” said Frixou. “But they were looking for a number one at Pontefract and she moved there. Both of them wanted to make a point but Millie’s just getting better and better with the way she focuses and stays in the zone.
“She’s the new kid on the block everyone fears now and I didn’t think she’d lose.”
Ashley Davies, still working his way back after a broken hand and short of match-play, was beaten 3-1 by Patrick Rooney, a talented teenager Frixou says he tried to sign.
In an intriguing clash of youth against experience, 20-year-old Richie Fallows then put Duffield back ahead with a 3-0 win over 43-year-old Simon Parke. Parke won the world team championship with England the year Fallows was born but he remains a strong player.
“Simon still has the skills and you’d think he was 23, not 43, to watch him on court,” said Frixou. “It was closer than the scores suggest but Richie played really well – he’s in great form at the moment.”
Frixou had felt Duffield’s best chance of nicking the match would be if Declan James could beat Laurens Jan Anjema at number two but, in an up and down game, the Dutchman prevailed 11-8 in the decider.
“At 2-2 and 8-8, two big refereeing decisions went against Declan, which was tough,” said Frixou.
James’ loss, as it turned out, set up Simpson’s heroics, as he fell behind to Willstrop before reeling off three straight games to bring home the win and leave Frixou reflecting on a strong first half to the season.
“I’m more than satisfied with where we are, especially after this result,” he said. “In many ways it’s been similar to last season. We’ve been forced to put out weakened sides but we’ve found ways to win. I thought the Pontefract match would be 3-2 either way but I couldn’t call it. I didn’t think Chris could win but he’s known on the circuit as being like a dog with a bone on court, and he played the best game I’ve ever seen him play.”
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