Two individual performances stood out in the Braintree Table Tennis League.
One was a first hat-trick from 14-year-old Joe Belsom and the other a totally unexpected victor in the Clift v Clift battle.
Sean and Adam Clift have played each other very little over the years as Sean moved through the ranks ahead of his younger brother and when they met earlier in the season Sean motored to a fairly straightforward victory.
Second time round it was a different story. In his first season in division two, Adam pitted his win percentage of 27 against his brother’s 66 – and came out on top.
The scores were almost a mirror image of their first meeting of the season. Then Sean won 11-9, 11-7, 7-11, 11-7. This time it was Adam’s turn 11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8.
It was not the only surprise in the match between Black Notley’s B and D teams. The last time they met the B team took all ten sets but this time with the same six players in action, they edged home 7-3.
Keith Flowers accounted for the D team’s other two points with wins over Sean Clift and Dave Parker.
The win enabled Notley B to close the gap on their C team at the top.
The C team had opened up a 23-point lead the previous week but may need all of them after losing the services of Gary Jackson, whose 35 wins have helped propel them to the summit.
Jackson had to pull out part way through their latest match with a knee injury which will require an operation and he is not expected to play again this season.
Without Jackson, and in the absence of the unbeaten Glen Laing, Notley C tumbled 8-2 to Rayne F.
Rayne E held on to third place after a draw with Felsted RBL A, where Felsted’s Ian Butler was unbeaten, while Nomads moved closer after beating Hedingham Lions 8-2.
It was a good evening for Lorraine Burgess, who remained unbeaten for the first time this season.
Liberal C dropped only one set – Barry Evans’ defeat by Dean Wood – in beating Felsted B 9-1.
Joe Belsom’s success came in the division three match between Netts D and Notley H.
He was stretched to five games by Steve Baines but won his other two sets in three straight games.
It was not quite enough and Notley H squeezed home 6-4.
At the top Felsted C moved to within one point of Notley E, with a match in hand, by beating Rayne G 10-0. It was only their third whitewash of the season but their second in a row.
Notley E beat their own G team 8-2, the G team’s two wins both coming from Liam Ebbs.
Rayne H moved closer to third-placed Notley I by beating them 6-4. Shirley Carroll was unbeaten.
Vernon King won his three singles for a two-person Notley F against Rayne I but could not prevent the home side taking the match 6-4.
In division one Peter Hayden turned out for a second match in a row for leaders Liberal A and helped his team to an 8-2 win over Rayne D, the same score by which second-placed Netts A beat Sible Hedingham.
Following his double success against Liberal the previous week, Hedingham’s Richard Jennings did it again, this time beating both Alistair Hill and James Mullane.
Netts’ B and C teams both jumped up a place.
The B team had a comfortable 8-2 win over Rayne C while the C team went one better in beating Rayne B 9-1.
They both climb above Rayne A, who suffered a surprising defeat by Liberal B.
John Andrews turned out for the first time this season for Rayne and won twice, but he could not prevent a 6-4 defeat in which Adrian Pitt was unbeaten.