Arthur Curran reports from Duffield[box]
BENZ BAVARIAN DUFFIELD v MB NOTTINGHAM
Nick Matthew beat Chris Simpson
11/6, 11/9, 10/12, 11/8. 65 mins.
Andy Whipp beat Shaun Le Roux
7/11, 11/9, 11/7, 11/5. 45 mins.
Laurence Delasaux lost to Lewis Walters
9/11, 11/8, 12/14, 5/11. 67mins.
Ashley Davies lost to Mark Fuller
11/9, 5/11, 11/7, 13/15, 4/11. 80 mins.
Laura Hill lost to Emma Beddoes
6/11, 5/11, 6/11. 24 mins.
The first game started rather tentatively with Chris managing to stay fairly close to Nick in the scoring, and levelled at 5/5, but then Nick pulled away to take the first game 11/6. Chris kept even closer with lots of determination in the second game, again levelling at 5/5, Nick pulled away to lead 9/6, Chris fought back to level at 9/9 but then Nick served out to take the game 11/9. In the third Chris came out with even more determination and took an early 5/3 then 7/5 lead.
Then Nick used all his experience and guile to get to match ball at 10/8. However Chris would not give up and with some tremendous play, ‘like a dog with a bone’ as Nick tweeted later, came back to take the game 12/10.
Nick started much better in the fourth and took a 5/1 lead but Chris came back again to level at 5/5 then 7/7, however again Nick used all his experience to keep Chris out and took the game eventually at 11/8 after 65 minutes of wonderful squash.
First blood on the scoreboard to Duffield.
However, unfortunately, on the adjacent court Duffield stalwart Laura Hill gamely battled against much improved Emma Beddoes but struggled to keep up with Emma, who went on to win the match 11/6, 11/5, 11/6 in just 24 minutes.
Following on from the ladies match on the adjacent court, Duffield debutant, 17 year old Ashley Davies faced the more experienced Nottingham player Mark Fuller, and what a debut match this turned out to be.
Mark set off at a good pace and took an 8/4 lead but Ashley played some fantastic squash to lead 9/8 then despite Mark levelling at 9/9 he served out to take the game 11/9 – what a good start for the youngster. Ashley seemed a little overawed in the second game and Mark took advantage of his hesitancy to take the game 11/5.
Mark opened the third with an early 4/3 lead, but Ashley fought valiantly again to lead 9/4 then 10/6, and took the game 11/7. 2 – 1 to Ashley. The fourth game turned into an epic and match turning game. With the early score at 4/4 Mark moved into a 7/4 lead, Ashley pulled back bravely to 8/8 then got match ball at 10/9. At this point there was a puzzling piece of play when Ashley did not ask for a stroke point when all the spectators felt he would have been given, to take the match, but instead played the ball into the tin and lost the point.
He then went on to save 3 game points but could not stop Mark taking the game at 15/13. In the fifth game Mark took an early 4/2 lead, Ashley pulled back to level at 4/4, but then with both players visibly tiring and lots of lets and no let calls, Mark pulled away to finish 11/4 and take the match 3 – 2 in a fantastic 80 minutes of squash, a wonderful exhibition from two very good youngsters.
Whilst the above game was being played, the third string match started on the main court, with Duffield player Laurence Delasaux facing Lewis Walters of Nottingham. In a very close and well fought encounter the first the game eventually went to Lewis at 11/9, and the second, just as closely fought went to Laurence 11/8, with Lewis having a conduct stroke awarded against him at the end of that game. In the third Laurence took an early 6/3 lead, Lewis fought back to lead 7/6, Laurence then led 8/7 and 9/8, Lewis got to game ball first at 10/9 and despite Laurence saving three game balls Lewis eventually took the game 14/12.
Despite fighting bravely in the fourth, Laurence started to fade and Lewis took advantage to take the game 11/5 and the match 3 -1 in another long match lasting 67minutes.
In the final match starting after 10.00 pm, although the tie had already been won by Nottingham by 3 games to 1, Duffield fans’ big favourite Andy Whipp was not to be outgunned and, although losing the first game to Shaun Le Roux, went on to take the next three games 11/9, 11/5, and 11/5, with Shaun appearing to lose a lot of concentration. This kept up Whippy’s great run of 6 wins from 6 for Duffield this season.
Although Nottingham took the spoils, there was much cheer between the two sets of fans after the match, as it seems that the near neighbours will both hopefully win through to the play offs. With first place not quite mathematically decided, it could be decided in the next round with the result of the Pontefract-Nottingham match. If not then, Duffield will only need to take 4 points from the last tie, at home against Pontefract, to win the group, whilst a good win by Nottingham against Oxford in this last round would surely give them the other play off place.