Close-fought challenges herald approaching Play-Offs

Despite there being two rounds still to go, the contenders for next month’s Premier Squash League (PSL) semi-final play-offs have significantly reduced after Tuesday’s drama-filled eighth round of the world’s most prestigious squash league.

Three-time champions Benz-Bavarian Duffield stretched their lead at the top of the Group A tables to 36 points ahead of the third-placed team to make it almost impossible to fail to finish in the top two and thereby secure a place in the semi-finals. The Derbyshire team beat Yorkshire opponents Chapel Allerton 3/2 in one of the evening’s three ties settled on a top-string decider.

Nick Matthew, the world number one from Sheffield, showed little sign of the back injury which curtailed his campaign in the second PSA World Series event of the year earlier this month in Chicago when he beat England team-mate Daryl Selby11-8, 7-11, 11-6, 13-11 to clinch Duffield’s crucial home win.

It was a 5/0 away win at AJP Pontefract in Yorkshire that put this season’s PSL debutants Coolhurst London into second place in the tables – a rise of two places. The visitors took full advantage of a home team weakened by the absence of its leading players through overseas commitments or injury.

An East v West Midlands derby saw former champions Air-IT Nottingham snatch a 3/2 away win at University of Birmingham after the newly-crowned Scottish champion Alan Clyne recovered from a game down to beat the home side’s number one Chris Ryder in four games in the top string decider.

Nottingham will host Duffield in the ninth round in a bid to keep their play-off hopes alive.

It seems to be a two-horse race in Group B where just a single point separates leaders Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets and Exeter Diamonds – reversing the one-point lead the Devon side had after the previous round! Both teams claimed tense 3/2 wins – title-holders Surrey Health, from Croydon, clinching victory over Weybridge-based county rivalsLuxfords St George’s Hill away from home when Peter Barker, the world No9 from London, beat Spanish number one and world No6 Borja Golan 11-7, 7-11, 11-5, 11-2 in the decider.

It was top-ranked Finn Olli Tuominen who made sure of a home win for Exeter when he beat Qatar teenager Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8 to consign visitors Winchester to their eighth consecutive PSL defeat this season.

A further 3/2 home win saw UWE/Elitesquash Bristol triumph over higher-placed Team Chichester – the Avon team’s winning heroes being 18-year-old Egyptian schoolgirl Yathreb Adel, Exeter-based 24-year-old Michael Harris, and 39-year-old retired Welsh pro David Evans.

RESULTS: Premier Squash League, 8th round, Tuesday 11 March 2014

Group A:
University of Birmingham 2 Air-IT Nottingham 3
Chris Ryder lost to Alan Clyne 11-8, 11-13, 10-12, 2-11
Jaymie Haycocks bt Eddie Charlton 11-7, 11-9, 11-9
Peter Creed bt Lewis Walters 11-3, 11-3, 15-13
Nathan Lake lost to Chris Fuller 10-12, 5-11, 12-14
Chloe Mesic lost to Emma Beddoes 1-11, 6-11, 2-11

AJP Pontefract 0 Coolhurst London 5
Chris van der Salm lost to Omar Abdel Meguid 5-11, 8-11, 6-11
David Campion lost to Ben Coleman 4-11, 6-11, 7-11 (42m)
Alex Hodgetts lost to Adam Auckland 3-11, 4-11, 3-11
Taminder Gata-Aura lost to Steven London 8-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-7, 5-11 (58m)
Sarah Kippax lost to Nicolette Fernandes 9-11, 15-17, 10-12

Benz-Bavarian Duffield 3 Chapel Allerton 2
Nick Matthew bt Daryl Selby 11-8, 7-11, 11-6, 13-11
Joel Hinds lost to Chris Simpson 12-14, 7-11, 8-11
Andy Whipp lost to Shaun le Roux 14-12, 6-11, 4-11, 1-11
Aqeel Rehman bt Simon Parke 12-10, 11-6, 11-9
Laura Massaro bt Carrie Ramsey 11-6, 11-5, 11-2

Group B:
UWE/Elitesquash Bristol 3 Team Chichester 2
Lucas Serme lost to Jonathan Kemp 13-11, 5-11, 6-11, 6-11
David Evans bt Robbie Temple 11-7, 15-13, 11-5
Tom Ford lost to Olivier Pett 6-11, 8-11, 10-12
Michael Harris bt Anthony Graham 9-11, 11-5, 11-8, 6-11, 11-8 (67m)
Yathreb Adel bt Lauren Briggs 11-5, 11-5, 12-10

Exeter Diamonds 3 Winchester 2
Omar Mosaad lost to Marwan Elshorbagy 11-9, 9-11, 4-11, 11-4, 8-11 (72m)
Olli Tuominen bt Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8 (46m)
Tim Vail bt Robert Downer 11-9, 7-11, 11-9, 11-5 (45m)
James Snell bt Scott Fitzgerald 11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 11-9 (50m)
Aisling Blake lost to Emily Whitlock 8-11, 6-11, 5-11 (32m)

Luxfords St George’s Hill 2 Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets 3
Borja Golan lost to Peter Barker 7-11, 11-7, 5-11, 2-11
Tom Richards lost to Adrian Grant 11-9, 7-11, 9-11, 9-11
Joe Lee bt Gregoire Marche 5-11, 11-9, 11-9, 10-12, 11-7
Henrik Mustonen bt Adrian Waller 10-12, 11-9, 11-6, 4-11, 12-10
Dominique Lloyd-Walter lost to Alison Waters 4-11, 4-11, 5-11