R9: Pontefract keep playoff hopes alive

Malcolm Willstrop reports

The Pontefract v Birmingham PSL match had everything the National League would hope to represent; five matches played in the best possible manner, officials having little to do other than keep the score, the presence of Sarah Jane Perry after her gargantuan effort in the British Open in Hull, World no.6 James Willstrop, and five players who have won senior national titles.

Taminder Gata-Aura gave Pontefract a 1-0 lead, but not before 17 year old Josh Owen showed attacking talent of a high order. There will be much to come from him under the guidance of coach/father Rob.

Meanwhile the seven times Welsh champion Peter Creed was beating New Zealander Evan Williams in three tight games,

Then came a fine performance from the gifted Patrick Rooney, who not only displayed his racket ability, but the tenacity to beat Jan van den Herrewegen 3-1.

Fiona Moverley, replacing British Open Champion Laura Massaro, led Perry 2-0, ┬ábut to the Birmingham player’s credit she recovered to win 3-2 having survived a 13-11 tiebreak in the fourth.

So at two-all the outcome depended on the top string match between Willstrop and the promising Joel Makin and the pair brought the evening to a splendid conclusion with an entertaining and quality match.

Makin’s athleticism and determination stood him in good stead, whilst Willstrop produced his characteristic racket control. It was the Pontefract player who led 2-0 before Makin, starting well in the third, took it 11-4. Willstrop was back in control in the fourth to win 3-1 and the match for Pontefract 3-2.

Once again it was a triumph,not only for the PSL, but for the game itself: a large crowd more than satisfied with what the players had provided.