Nuffield 2 vs Melbourn 1
Weds 17th July
Melbourn won 9-7
The 1sts made the trip down the A505/A1 to St. Albans to take on Nuffield Health 2nds on the back of a three-match winning run that had eased us up the Division 2 table from a slightly precarious position. Another victory at a mid-table side would keep us moving forwards and make any fears about relegation recede further.
The first on to try and keep that going was Jan (3), who took on Kim Mansfield. The first game was nip-and-tuck, with never more than a few points in it. Indeed it reach 13-all, then 14-all before Kim won two straight points to move ahead. The second also went the home players way as he again won the endgame, pushing through from 10-all or thereabouts to win it 15-11. Jan looked like getting one back when he established a good lead in the third, held it and earned himself four consecutive game balls at 14-10. However, he then got defensive, lost all of them and had to survive a very hairy tie-break before winning 17-15 (no match balls against, though). That proved the turning point, of sorts. Jan was ahead through most of both games four and five, but nearly repeated the ‘waste the opportunity’ thing in game four as the score closed from 14-10 to 14-13 before he finally played a clean and patient rally to convert. Strangely, there were no such scares in the decider, a decent length shot forcing an error from Kim on the first match ball to see Jan home 14-16, 11-15, 17-15, 15-13, 15-10.
Kate (2) was up next against Nick Henderson. A video of the first game is available online here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5geKK6dYSM so you can judge from yourselves (n.b. it starts from 1-0 to Nick). My take is a sluggish first few points, then increasingly control of the front of the court and dictating of the play sees Kate home. The second we won’t talk about (see games scores below!). The third saw Kate back into the swing and refinding a high court position and patience to construct rallies to move 2-1 up. Nick hit back again to level at 2-2. The game was depending heavily on who could put the first strike in and force their opponent back, as control of the front wall generally meant point won (doesn’t it always?). I assume that is what happened in the last, but reader, I wasn’t watching. Kate seemed pleased with her efforts, though. She won 15-13, 3-15(sic), 15-8, 9-15, 15-10. I think the phrase is ‘see-saw’!
Last on was Mark (1) against Ben Bradly. The opening game, or more accurately the opening 10 points, were a problem for Mark as Ben dictated the flow of the game. The rallies were interesting, but at the end of all but one of them it was the Nuffield player with ball in hand ready to serve the next one. Game two saw Mark impose himself more on the contest, being active in the rallies instead of reactive. That worked well, but not quite enough to claim the game as Ben played some solid error free Squash in the last few points to overturn a deficit and go two up. It was apparent early in the third that Mark’s goose was cooked as he struggled for oxygen, the match concluding in fairly quiet fashion on shortish rallies. Ben’s backhand volley winner on match ball was good, mind. Game scores 6-15, 12-15, 6-15.
Skipper Jan commented “We were down in 8th place recently, and looked to be in a relegation battle. But that is now four straight matches that we have won, and the situation is much brighter. Both Kate and I dug in well to win our games tonight, which was important as Mark was struggling with his breathing which really hampered him.”