Division 2 Roundup - Week 20

Published 22/03/2024 at 20:26:31 by Martin Johnson.

Hawks Seal the Title but Spitfires have to Wait

The penultimate week of League fixtures featured vital battles at both the top and the bottom of Division 2.  Going into this week, three teams were in the running for the two promotion spots, whilst three teams were also battling to see which of them could avoid the two relegation spots.

First up it was the top of the table battle between Mursley Hawks and Leighton Buzzard Spitfires, with Spitfires having slightly narrowed the gap to the leaders down to just five points, with four wins in a row, in recent weeks.  However, it was Hawks who soon gained control, as although Graham Silversides took the first leg against Martin Johnson, Martin levelled in a close second leg, then took the next two, to put Hawks ahead.  Mick O'Mahony doubled the lead for Hawks, beating Filip Simek in straight games, and then David Bartlett made it 3-0 by beating Andy King over four legs.  The doubles followed, and although it was a close battle, Martin & Mick maintained Hawks' 100% doubles record for the season, defeating Graham & Filip in four - a win that mathematically guaranteed Hawks a promotion spot.  They were not finished, though, as Mick beat Graham, and Martin beat Andy, both in straight games, to go 6-0 up.  Finally, Spitfires got on the board, as by the narrowest of margins, Filip beat David at 12-10 in the fifth, having been 10-9 down.  The one win was all Spitfires were able to muster, however, as Hawks grabbed the three remaining singles, to win 9-1, thereby securing the Division 2 title with a week to spare, and extending their winning run to fourteen matches.  Spitfires, who had lead third-placed Mosquitoes by 11 points, now awaited the Mosquitoes result, to see how much of their lead they would retain, with the two teams to play each other in the final week, and thus determine which would be runners-up.

Third-placed Woburn Sands Mosquitoes faced seventh-placed Greenleys Valiants, with both teams looking for points in their respective battles.  Mosquitoes got off to a good start, and soon pulled into a 4-1 lead, as Rob McPheat won twice, James Molloy once, and the two of them pairing up to beat Lewis Copp and Slava Volokha in the doubles, with Lewis beating Glenn Barcham for the one Valiants set.  At this point the fortunes turned, somewhat, as Lewis inflicted just the fifth defeat of the season on James, in a tight four-gamer, and although Glenn just beat Slava in a see-saw five-gamer, to restore a three sets advantage to Mosquitoes, Lewis then grabbed his third singles win of the night to defeat Rob.  Peter Carr then outlasted Glenn to get another one back for Valiants, before James clinched a 6-4 win for Mosquitoes in the final set.  The result leaves Mosquitoes still trailing Spitfires by six points, which by dint of Spitfires' higher number of wins, means that Mosquitoes would have to beat them 9-1 or 10-0 next week, to overtake them for runners-up spot.  For Valiants, the four points sees them still two points off sixth place, so next week they will need a two point better result than clubmates, Sultans of Spin, to overtake them and avoid the drop.

Fifth-placed Milton Keynes Powers were 6-4 winners over sixth-placed Greenleys Sultans of Spin, a result that leaves the positions of both teams unchanged, and with Sultans of Spin still heading Valiants by two points, as they battle each other to determine which can avoid the second relegation spot.  Honours in this match went to Sultans of Spin's Ricky Jackson, who notched up another treble in singles, although he and Robert Anderson lost a close doubles in five games to Keith Carrington and Andy Pearson, one of three five-gamers that all went the way of Powers.  Robert got the other win for Sultans of Spin against Keith, with the Powers' wins coming two each from Andy and Peter Tillotson, plus one from Keith against Daniel Carter, in five games.  Powers stay fifth, now trailing fourth place by three points, whilst Sultans of Spin retain their two point advantage over Valiants in the battle to finish out of the bottom two.

The final match of the week featured fourth-placed Newport Pagnell Lagondas against eighth-placed Milton Keynes Pioneers, with Pioneers really needing a few points to give them any chance of avoiding relegation, especially with their final match of the season being against the champions-elect.  However, it seemed not to be, as Lagondas raced into a 5-0 lead, thanks to a pair of wins each by Chris Horn and Glen Davison (including a 12-10 in the fifth win for Glen against Andy Frearson), plus one win from Tony Ardis, in a match played out of normal sequence.  Late arrival, Kareem Omar, gave Pioneers hope, with singles wins over Tony & Glen, but defeat with Andy in the doubles against Glen and Chris signalled the end of their wins, with Pioneers' teammates, Andy and Terry Lau unable to add any further successes, as Lagondas duly ran out 8-2 winners, with Chris Horn hitting a maximum.  Lagondas stay fourth, now three points ahead of fifth-placed Powers, whilst Pioneers look doomed, as they are seven points behind sixth place, and their final match of the season is against Hawks.

Next week is the final week of League fixtures, with the standout match being Spitfires taking on Mosquitoes, with Mosquitoes having the big task of winning 9-1 (or 10-0), to snatch runners-up spot from Spitfires.  In the battle to avoid relegation, the two matches that seem certain to determine who joins Pioneers in the drop, are Sultans of Spin against Lagondas, and Valiants against Powers, with Valiants needing to outscore Sultans of Spin by two points (or more) to overtake them.  Pioneers still have a mathematical, but highly unlikely, chance to stay up, but would need their performance of the season, plus other results going their way, as they face Hawks, who are defending an unbeaten record and 14 wins in a row.

Player of the Week : Lewis Copp.