After gradually clawing their way up the table in division two of the Braintree Table Tennis League, Rayne D’s title challenge hit an almighty bump when they tumbled decisively against rivals Liberal C.
Rayne were only five points behind with a match in hand when the two teams faced each other, but Liberal made sure that gap widened rather than narrowed by inflicting a 9-1 defeat on their opponents.
Garry Fryatt, Gareth Davies and Jon Fieldsend were in dominant mood, and it was only Fryatt’s defeat by Richard Whiteside at 15-13 in the fifth game that prevented a clean sheet.
A win in the doubles at 11-9 in the fifth, and Fryatt’s defeat of Nick Hasler, in which he had to come from two games down, were the only other sets that were close.
Netts D kept in touch with a 7-3 win over Felsted RBL B in which Roy Hooper and Joe Meleschko were undefeated, while Black Notley C proved that they did not need Glen Laing to maintain their challenge.
Tim Huxtable, Dan Anderson and reserve Bryan Speller overcame Notley E 9-1, with Speller’s defeat by Alan Billing the only blemish.
Kevin Saunders and Sean Clift both registered unbeaten evenings but finished on the losing side, Nomads going down 6-4 to Rayne E and Notley D suffering 7-3 at the hands of Felsted A.
The big match in division three resulted in a resounding with for Netts E over Rayne F.
Like their D team, Rayne F had been menacing the leaders with a match in hand, but after an 8-2 defeat, have fallen some way behind.
Clive Forster, beaten only once up to now, suffered a surprise defeat to Charles Wilkinson, but Tony Smith found the right moment to hit top form for Netts E and his three singles saw his team home.
Division leaders Notley F crept a point further ahead with a 9-1 win over Rayne I, where Scott Whiteside scored a good win over James Gronland.
Rayne G took nine points from their H team while a two-person Notley G beat their own H team 6-4 with Matt Brooks undefeated.
In division one it was an up-and-down few days for Liberal B, who lost to the team below them in a rearranged fixture and then beat the team above them.
Nikki Davison’s three sets gave Netts C a 6-4 win, but that scoreline was reversed when Liberal B faced Netts’ A team.
Andrew Huckson and Adrian Pitt for Liberal and Maria Boulton and Chris Buer for Netts won two each.
Leaders Liberal A beat Netts C 8-2 while second-placed Rayne A took all ten against their own B team.
At the bottom Notley B’s chances of avoiding the drop improved after their 8-2 defeat by they own A team coupled with Rayne C’s 10-0 reverse at Netts B.