Newmarket II vs Melbourn II
Thurs 14th March
Melbourn won 17-5
With two rounds of fixtures to go in the Cambs Division 4 season, the 2nds sat third in the league seven points adrift of Haverhill and 10 behind leaders Fenland. Haverhill’s remaining games looked like probably heavy wins meaning they were likely not catchable. However the 2nds final match of the campaign is at Fenland, meaning it could be turned into a winner-takes-all (or promotion at least) encounter if we got enough points from this trip to a Newmarket side in the lower reaches of the table.
In a break from the normal order, the first strings on were numbers 2 and 4, Matt W taking on Steve Wrigley and John G playing Nick Longman respectively. Matt looked on course for the first game until a string of points against suddenly made it tight. Indeed it was Steve who reached 14 first, and if an attempted drop from deep in his backhand corner had gone up instead of just clipping the top of the tin it’s highly likely Matt wouldn’t have got there as he had been wrong-footed; but just down it was, and Matt used the escape to get through the game 16-14. Game two saw Matt starting sharper, playing Steve deep and using his deadly drop volleys. That was enough for a comfortable win, and also got him through a closer third for a 16-14 15-7 15-12 victory.
Meanwhile, next door, John was dealing well with a player who ran hard, but whose shot were sometimes on the loose side. Very well in game two in fact, as John recorded an bagel, which is extremely rare in PAR-15 squash! The two either side were more competitive but John was always well in control and won 15-9 15-0 15-7.
Roger W (5) had followed Matt on to the glassback to take on Murdoch Cameron. As with the fourth string the Newmarket player gave it his all but was overmatched as Roger cruised through a 3-0 win, increasing his comfort as his drops found their range. About the most memorable incident to come from this one was Roger asking for a let on match ball that was a probable but not stonewall stroke. The Newmarket marker called let instead, which seemed fair enough at 2-0 14-2 up. Let’s finish on a proper rally and not a marker’s call. It only delayed the end by a few seconds as Roger won 15-9 15-6 15-2.
Third string pitted Colm, who had interrupted his family holiday at Centre Parcs to play, against Oliver Pynn. Oliver turned out to be absolutely lightening fast to the front, and continually pushing forward to use this asset to its fullest advantage. Sadly for Colm, this was precisely the sort of player he really didn’t need to be up against as a combination of the after-effects of illness and tension from the situation combined to sap his energy. Colm really needed quick exits from rallies, so was looking to drop wherever possible. This did indeed end the exchanges, but often not in the preferred manner as Oliver genuinely reached almost every ball before the second bounce. He didn’t always pull off a successful shot once there, but having the potential every time was utterly remarkable as it including some that seemed ungettable. Genuinely the fastest player over the deck your correspondent has ever seen in Team action, including Division 1 players [some of these do pull off similar retrieves, but that is based on flexibility, agility and balanced accurate movement rather than just simply searing pace]. It was all too much for Colm, who went down 10-15 11-15 11-15.
That put the pressure on Jan B (1) ahead of his game with Mark Childs. Three more points were essential. A few rallies in it was clear getting them would be exhausting work as both players appeared content to work the ball up and down the walls rather than attack. There was nothing in it all game until Jan just pulled clear to take it 15-13. Game two was similar, with Jan increasingly struggling to maintain the movement. This one went to 13-all, but two tired mistakes on the last two points sent it Newmarket’s way. Somewhat in desperation, Jan slowed the pace down in game three, attempting many more lofted balls. It worked to an extent of feeling better but didn’t change the game score as Mark moved 2-1 ahead with yet another 15-13 scoreline. The tactics were good though, and Jan was getting less winded by using them. He got a lead in game four, doggedly clung on and reached game balls at 14-11. The first two of these were saved which just set up, you’ve guessed it, a 15-13 eventual score. Jan’s change up of tactics finally bore fruit in game five as it was asking Mark to move more and make the pace on the ball. He appeared drained and stopped getting forward as much allowing Jan to play some simple drops and finally close a game out by a more comfortable margin. Much more comfortable in fact. Jan won 15-13 13-15 13-15 15-13 15-7.
Skipper Roger commented it was “Great to see us continuing with our winning run of form. The highlight was Jan showing real determination to come back from 1-2 down to win 3-2 in a very close contest. We now need to win our last league match to get promotion!”