The final match of this season’s half was at home to Alderley Edge.
Ameel Talib was first on against Muhmmad Khan (below). Ameel, looking confident, took the first game 11:5. The second game was a marathon, but Ameel held firm winning 16:14. Mahammad fought back in the next game taking it 8:11. By now it was all about grit and determination, and Ameel took a couple of tumbles having to play through his opponent. The fourth was equally close, but Ameel stuck to his task to win 12:10 and secure victory.
Adrian Waller was due to play but sustained an injury in a match on Monday night and had to withdraw. So, Rob Downer and Andy Whipp moved up to allow Adam Taylor to fill the void. Andy was on next against 2nd string Adam Turner. Andy has had a brilliant season but, on this night, he was not at his best. He was moving well but missing his shots. That allowed Adam to take a two-game lead. But Andy never gives in and he raised his game, taking the next two games to draw level. The fifth game was close all the way, but Andy got to the finishing post first winning 11:9 – a true captain’s performance (below).
Next on court was Adam Taylor with Mike Potter. Adam has been a bit erratic this season, but he got away to a decent start, winning 11:8. The second game was more nerve racking, but he held on to win 13:11. This seemed to settle him and he cruised to victory 11:2 in the third.
Though the tie was safe, the team still needed points to stay in touch with Grove Park. So, Emily Whitlock could not relax against James Pickles. It was even after two games. Emily elevated her game a fraction and edged ahead in the third. Taking the ball early and hitting her shots tighter, Emily then took the fourth game to win the match (below).
With the games being close it was now getting late for the number one strings, Rob Downer and Harry Falconer. Rob was out of the box flying and he powered his way to a two-game lead. But Harry is no mean player and the effort took its toll on Rob who had been ill earlier in the week. Rob seemed to hit a fitness wall and he was suddenly struggling. Harry took the next two games to draw level. In the fifth game, Rob had nothing left and he went down 4:11. But his efforts in the first two games meant that the team earned 19 points. Most people would have been happy with that at the beginning of the evening.
The long matches meant that the team Christmas meal was not taken until 11:00pm. Malcolm did a great job in keeping it from drying out. Then we were rewarded with the news that Grove Park had unexpectedly lost at The Northern. So, we ended the first half 10 points clear at the top of the table – a welcome cushion for next year.