Netts A have thrown open the race for the Braintree Table Tennis League title with a win over champions Liberal A.
The two teams drew their first match and have won every other fixture so the Earls Colne Recreation Centre witnessed a clash of two unbeaten sides, a rarity at the end of January.
Kevin Gowlett held Netts together in their 7-3 win. He won twice in three straight games and was stretched to a fourth end only by Ian Hayden.
Hayden, the only player to beat Gowlett this season, confirmed he remains in his best form for years by notching an excellent win over men’s singles champion Paul Davison 11-9, 11-9, 12-10.
Both Hayden and Simon Webber had wins over Andy Holmes, unbeaten in his six sets in the league up to that point, but surprisingly Scott Dowsett, who racked up a win over Davison in the first match, had a blank evening.
The result leaves Netts five points ahead of Liberal, although Liberal have a match in hand – and they still have to play each other again.
Liberal B and Rayne D were closely matched but Adam Buxton’s three wins ensured that Rayne came away 6-4 better off.
The remaining three fixtures all finished 10-0, Rayne A over Black Notley A, Netts B at Felsted RBL A and Rayne B against Rayne C.
Rayne A also played a rearranged fixture against Rayne D, which they won 6-4 with Ian Whiteside unbeaten.
Nomads have dealt a blow to Notley B’s promotion hopes in division two.
Richard Kemp and Kevin Saunders, both in good form this season, were unbeaten in singles and doubles as the Great Cornard club recorded a 7-3 victory.
Not only did that allow Sible Hedingham to stretch their lead at the top but it also meant Notley lost second place to Liberal C.
Hedingham had an 8-2 win over Notley C, although Notley’s Oliver Hicks had good wins over Richard Jennings and Roy Hooper, while Liberal beat Notley E 6-4.
Gareth Davies and Garry Fryatt both won twice for Liberal, Davies losing to David Razzell (at 12-10 in the fifth) and Fryatt to Gary Jackson.
Keith Flowers won his three singles for Notley D but could not prevent a 6-4 defeat by Rayne F while Rayne E had a 9-1 win over Hedingham Lions. Adam Purslow registered Lions’ only success, a deuce-in-the-fifth win over Dave Miller.
Alan Cook, who missed most of last season through injury, has hit a run of form in division three. After winning two out of three in his previous two matches, he remained unbeaten for the first time this season in Notley I’s draw with Notley H.
Leaders Rayne G had only two players against Netts C and won 7-3 while Felsted B crept two points closer with a 9-1 win over Rayne I where Barry Mouser’s win over Dean Wood was Rayne’s only consolation.
Notley G had a 9-1 win over Felsted C while the returning Nick Hasler retained his solid form with another unbeaten evening, this time in Rayne H’s 7-3 win over Notley F.