Nomads Panthers, reigning champions of Division One of the Clacton and District League and current leaders, crashed to their first defeat of the season - and their first loss in over a year - at the hands of title rivals Windsor Condors.
In a clash of the League's top two teams, the Condors ran out 6-4 winners. There were two each for Greg Green and Colin Stallwood, one for Felipe Rodriguez, whilst Green and Stallwood beat Sam Hume and Gill Locke 11-3, 11-8, 11-7 to take the doubles.
But despite the Condors' team success, it was the Panthers' young star Sam Hume who took the individual honours, staying unbeatenon the night. His hat-trick included a close 8-11, 13-11, 11-5, 10-12, 11-9 victory over Greg Green in the only match that went the distance, and a satisfying 11-8, 11-7, 11-8 win over his b?te noireColin Stallwood.
It was a first singles' defeat of the season for both Green and Stallwood.
So the Condors end the first-half of the season just eight points adrift of the Panthers and still in with a realistic chance of wresting the title from the Panthers, champions for the past four seasons, and regaining the title they won in 2012.
In another top-of-the-table clash, third-placed Windsor Eagles edged out fourth-placed Brotherhood B 6-4. Gary Cattermole and the ever-reliable Phil Smith took a couple each, John Pattrick took one whilst Cattermole and Pattrick combined to take an all-important doubles win against Andy Warner and Gracie Edwards. Warner stayed unbeaten for Brotherhood, thanks to a narrow 11-8 in the decider success over Cattermole.
Walton A had to fight hard to earn a share of the spoils with Windsor Hawks. Gavin Price won a couple for Walton but went down 11-8 in the decider to Windsor's Andy Vincent who starred with an unbeaten three. Walton won the three other matches that went the distance, John Rankin beating Elliott Attrill 11-6 in the fifth and John Barton 11-9 in the fifth, whilst Paul Woolnough scraped past the unfortunate Barton 5-11, 18-16, 5-11, 11-7, 11-9.
Brotherhood C beat Windsor Owls 8-2 with all the matches bar one settled in three-straight. Kevin Gowlett and Alan Burgess stayed undefeated for Brotherhood whilst Windsor's Frank Burbidge and Mark Salter each recorded a win over Kevin Pryor.
Three for Derek Willis and two each from Jason Gale and Paul Meikle saw Walton B to a 7-3 success against a weakened Nomads Lions. Roger Hance won two singles for the Lions and, with Adam Wilkin, took the doubles against Willis and Meikle.
The Brotherhood club is dominating Division Two with three of their teams leading the way at the top.
Brotherhood H go into the holiday break as leaders following their 6-4 success against Windsor Buzzards. Stewart Murray again stayed undefeated with Graham Parkes contributing a couple. Dan Malinowski was the Buzzards' best player on the night, beating both Parkes and John Wrigley.
But Brotherhood I, 10-0 winners against lowly Windsor Magpies, are only three points behind and they have emerged as genuinetitle contenders. Kris Stefanov, Mark Ratcliffe and Woody Fitzpatrickall took trebles, a first-ever maximum at this level for Fitzpatrick. However, the Magpies will feel aggrieved at losing all three matches that went the distance, Stefanov beating John Plummer 11-6 in the fifth, Fitzpatrick beating Kayley Rodriguez 11-5 in the fifth, with Stefanov and Fitzpatrick defeating Plummer and Malcolm Caley 11-4 in the decider in the doubles.
Three for Lawrence Torr, two for Sandie Isaac and one for Barry Allen saw third-placed Brotherhood F home 6-4 against NomadsJaguars. In a match where every player picked up at least one point, there was a win each for Nomads' Kevin Hume, Allen Denyer and Caroline North. Each side took a close match, Isaac defeating Hume 12-10 in the fifth whilst Hume and Denyer took an excellent doubles 11-9, 15-17, 13-11, 8-11, 11-6 for the Jaguars against Torr and Isaac.
Nomads Bobcats have edged their way up the table to be on the fringe of the promotion race, this week winning 6-4 against a Brotherhood D side forced to field a guest player. There were two each for Brotherhood's Russell Hillier and Paul Alden but it proved atopsy-turvy encounter, Hillier edging past Ethan Lloyd, who then beat Alden, with Alden defeating Jason Lloyd who went on to beat Hillier.
Nomads Tigers could yet feature in the promotion race and this week they enjoyed a 9-1 success against Brotherhood E. John Marshall and Tony Robinson took maximum points for the Tigers but Brotherhood's Rodney Betts will feel pleased with his individual win over Phil Wolski.
There was no such consolation for Nomads Pumas who went down 10-0 to Windsor Harriers, Ferdy Rodriguez, Isabel Barton and Jenny Higgins all staying unbeaten. But Higgins needed five sets to beat both John Bowers and Lionel Goddard, whilst it was 11-3, 10-12, 14-12, 11-13, 11-8 for Higgins and Barton in the doubles against Bowers and Alan Dockerill.
Division Three leaders Walton D ended the half-season on a highnote with a emphatic 10-0 win over third-placed Windsor Penguins, a result which emphasised the gulf between the top two teams in this Division and the rest. The only match that went to five was Jane Young's 11-5, 9-11, 11-13, 11-5, 11-3 win over Debra Found.
Second-placed Nomads Wildcats were 9-1 winners against lowly Brotherhood J and, although Mike Hillier and Peter Martin stayed unbeaten, Brotherhood's Harley Wood had an encouraging victory over old hand John Houghton. The result leaves the Wildcats six points behind Walton at the half-way stage of the season.
Despite a treble from the Ospreys' Jordan Webb, the Swallows won the all-Windsor encounter 6-4. Maci Harvey took the fourth point for the Ospreys' side who'd been forced to field a guest player.
But a full-strength Ospreys were good enough to overcome Nomads Leopards 6-4, Webb taking two on this occasion and Robbie Strutt the player to remain unbeaten. There was one each for Norman Jacobs and Dave Wright of the Leopards, whilst Tom Collins' pair included a narrow 13-11 in the fifth victory over Webb.
There were trebles for Chris Jones and Denise Thompson as Nomads Caracals defeated Nomads Ocelots 8-2, Jones scraping home 12-10 in the decider against Arthur Wells-Garrett. Martin Cunningham and Wells-Garrett won a point apiece for the losers.
With just two points separating them in the middle of the table, the Windsor Kites v Nomads Lynx fixture predictably ended all-square. It was a fifth draw of the season for the Kites' and a third for the Lynx. Carl Hubbard of the Kites took three, his maximum including an 11-9 in the decider win over Liam Harris, whilst there was a point each for Mick Simson and Jack Haylett, an 11-8 in the fifthwinner over Cameron Cini. Liam Harris won two for the Lynx, narrowly beating Haylett in five, whilst Dave Harris also won a couple. Dave Harris and Cini took a crucial doubles 9-11, 11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8 against Hubbard and Haylett.
* Congratulations to League Chairman Peter White who followed up his success at the recent Tendring District Council Sports Personality Awards by receiving a Highly Commended 'Unsung Hero' award at Active Essex Sports Awards evening held at Chelmsford last week.
Windsor Condors 6 Nomads Panthers 4;
Brotherhood B 4 Windsor Eagles 6;
Nomads Lions 3 Walton B 7;
Windsor Hawks 5 Walton A 5;
Windsor Owls 2 Brotherhood C 8.
Windsor Buzzards 4 Brotherhood H 6;
Nomads Bobcats 6 Brotherhood D 4;
Nomads Pumas 0 Windsor Harriers 10;
Brotherhood F 6 Nomads Jaguars 4;
Brotherhood I 10 Windsor Magpies 0;
Brotherhood E 1 Nomads Tigers 9.
Walton D 10 Windsor Penguins 0;
Nomads Leopards 4 Windsor Ospreys 6
Brotherhood J 1 Nomads Wildcats 9;
Windsor Swallows 6 Windsor Ospreys 4;
Nomads Ocelots 2 Nomads Caracals 8;
Windsor Kites 5 Nomads Lynx 5.