After the break for the Nationals, the NWCSL resumed with Warrington hosting The Northern. Emily Whitlock was due to play in this match, but the foot injury she picked up in Nottingham ruled her out for this match. So first up was Jaish Talib against Matt Roberts. Jaish won the first game fairly comfortably but Matt came back in the second to level the score (below). After that, Matt growing in confidence took control winning the next two games with ease. On down.
On the show court, Andy Whipp took on Josh Taylor (below). Josh was out of the box straight away and it was clear he meant business. Andy seemed a bit lacklustre and Josh took the first 9:11. Andy, always the fighter, came back to win the second. The third game was similar to the first with Andy not quite on it. Again, Andy fought back strongly in the fourth to make it 2:2 and now you could see him taking the match. Alas it was not to be. After a few rallies, a niggling back problem suddenly got worse and he was a passenger in the rest of the match. Two down.
That result meant Warrington needed Ameel Talib to beat Finnlay Withington. The first game went to Finn, and the second to Ameel. In the third, Finn had the better shots and went back into the lead. The fifth game was tight with Ameel trying his best to stay in it. It went to tie-break but Finn sneaked it to win 12:10. Three down.
It was now damage limitation. Step up Joel Makin to play Julian Tomlinson (below). What an enjoyable match this was to watch. On paper, Joel was easily the favourite, but Julian had not read the script. In the first game, Joel cruised ahead as expected, though uncharacteristically missing a few shots. But Julian was playing well. In the second, Julian really got going and giving it everything. His effort paid off and he deservedly took the close second. He surely could not keep this up. But he did, and he took the third to take a 1:2 lead. Joel came out for the fourth game determined to stamp his authority on the match by running his opponent into the ground. There were some fantastically long rallies. The crowd loved it and the players were too. The strategy worked. Joel took the game and the next to win the match. Julian had given 110% and it showed, whereas Joel looked as though he could do it again. Sensational!
It was unfortunate for the final two players, Adam Taylor and Julianne Courtice, to have to follow on after that (below). Adam was too strong for Julianne and took the final match in three games. So the tie ended with a 16:10 win for the Northern but, without taking anything away from The Northern’s performace, it could have been so different were it not for those injuries.
The loss meant that Liverpool cut Warrington’s lead at the top of the table to 24 points. With another tight match coming up at Southport and Birkdale next week and Liverpool playing second from bottom Bowden, the gap could narrow further.