The clash of the top two teams in Division Three of the Clacton and District League saw second-placed Walton D emerge narrow 6-4 winners over Nomads Pumas, their first defeat of the current campaign.
Rivhu Khan took his three for Walton to maintain his hundred per cent record for the season whilst John Long's two wins included a tight, but invaluable, 11-9, 11-8, 7-11, 8-11, 11-9 victory over Alan Dockerill. But it was the doubles which ultimately proved crucial, Khan and Long edging out Eric Lemke and John Bowers 5-11, 11-9, 5-11, 11-6, 12-10.
Lemke's two singles' successes for the Pumas included an 11-7 in the fifth win over Long, whilst there was a point apiece for Bowers and Dockerill.
Despite this defeat, the Pumas still hold a precious twenty-two point lead over their Walton rivals although Walton do have a game in hand.
However, Nomads Wildcats are creeping up the table and are just a point behind Walton in third place. They got back to winning ways with an 8-2 success against Brotherhood G, Andrew Cawley and Brian Friday unbeaten. Graham Healey and Rob Bright took a point each for Brotherhood with Healy testing Cawley to the full before going down 11-7 in the decider.
Three for Scott Campbell, two for Tom Collins and one for Dave Wright gave Nomads Ocelots a 7-3 win against Windsor Kites, although it was a close-run 10-12, 11-4, 11-6, 12-14, 11-7 for Wright against Rachel Simson. Chris Simson won two and Jack Haylett one for the Kites.
The three remaining matches in the Division all ended in repeat early-season scores.
Windsor Swallows beat Nomads Lynx 9-1, Kayley Lamb and Iris Howlett undefeated. Only one match was settled outside of the traditional three-straight, Howlett beating Paul Dale 11-8 in the fifth. Dale took the losers' consolation point with a win over Kayleigh Stratford in match ten.
Zoe Strange of Nomads Cougars defeated Maci Harvey of Windsor Ospreys in the opening match of the evening but that was the Cougars' sole cause for celebration, the Ospreys running out 9-1 winners. The doubles was the only encounter that went the distance, Harvey and Millie Easton defeating Strange and Sue Lee 11-5 in the fifth.
Hat-tricks for Jason Lloyd and Ethan Lloyd were the basis of Nomads Leopards' 7-3 success against Windsor Penguins. Ethan Lloyd was involved in a titanic struggle before beating Alan Charman 11-8, 12-14, 11-3, 6-11, 11-9. There was a point each for Charman, Harry Barlow and Jackie Bunce for the Penguins.
Division One leaders Nomads Panthers beat Walton B 9-1, all bar three matches settled in three-straight. Joe Andrews, making his first appearance of the season for the Panthers, won a couple but he couldn't get the better of a hard-hitting performance from Colin Dearman who took their individual match 11-9, 11-7, 11-3 with some ease. Sam Hume and James Denyer took predictable trebles for the Panthers.
Every player picked up at least one point as Walton C narrowly defeated Nomads Lions, with the Walton side taking the final two matches of the night to scrape home 6-4. Gary Young stayed unbeaten for the winners but it was a close-run thing against Paul Hume, making a rare but welcome appearance for the Lions, Young winning 11-9, 11-2, 8-11, 10-12, 11-5. Paul Meikle and Derek Willis each took a point for Walton.
Gary Cattermole was on-song for Windsor Eagles, taking his maximum as the Eagles defeated Windsor Hawks 7-3. Mark Smith won two and Sue Welham one, with Cattermole and Smith combining to take a close doubles 11-4, 11-9, 8-11, 8-11, 14-12 against Felipe Rodriguez and Andy Vincent. Rodriguez won twice for the Hawks, including an 11-13, 12-10, 11-9, 11-13, 12-10 win over Mark Smith in one of the closest matches of the season.
There was a reserve on either side of the table in another all-Windsor clash where the Condors, with Colin Stallwood and Martin Hogg unbeaten, defeated the Kestrels 8-2. Isabel Barton, playing for the Condors, took the honours over John Plummer in the battle of the reserves.
Martin Edwards and Gracie Edwards both stayed unbeaten as Brotherhood B defeated Brotherhood D 9-1. Paul Alden won the losers' consolation point with an 11-7 in the decider victory over David North in the final match of the evening. But the 'D' team will reflect that fortune was against them, losing the other three matches that went the distance, Shaun Beckham going down in five to both North and Gracie Edwards whilst Russell went even closer, succumbing 12-10 in the decider to Gracie Edwards.
In Division Two Windsor Owls stay top following their 9-1 victory over Nomads Bobcats. Tricia Salter's two for the Owls included a 12-10 in the fifth victory over Tony Robinson but she couldn't get the better of Tony Beezer who took the Bobcats' sole point.
Nomads Tigers, now the only unbeaten side in all three Divisions, maintained their promotion bid with a 6-4 victory over Windsor Harriers, despite having to field a reserve. Roger Hance was their unbeaten hero, his hat-trick including a topsy-turvy 11-2, 11-3, 8-11, 8-11, 11-4 victory over Ferdy Rodriguez. Daryl Lott won two and reserve Mike Hillier one. Windsor's Rodriguez was the busiest man on the night, involved in all three matches that went to a decider, going down 11-7 in the fifth to Lott but just edging past Hillier 9-11, 11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 12-10.
Third-placed Lawford were comfortable 10-0 winners over a Windsor Buzzards' side forced to field a guest, and are now just three points behind the Tigers.
With six matches to play, only eight points separate the Owls, the Tigers and Lawford - and with all three teams scheduled to play each other in the course of the last quarter of the season, it could be that the Division Two honours won't be decided until the final week of the season.
At the other end of the table, Nomads Jaguars recorded a welcome 7-3 victory over Windsor Magpies. Kevin Hume, with a debut maximum at this level, and Andrew North stayed undefeated, with the two players sharing an 11-9 in the decider doubles victory over Dave Sweetland and John Plummer. Windsor reserve Debra Found had a good win over Caroline North but North will feel unfortunate to have lost 11-9 in the decider to both Sweetland and Plummer.
With the Magpies now looking isolated at the foot of the table, the second relegation spot could be a straight shoot-out between the Jaguars and Brotherhood E - who did themselves no favours this week, going down 7-3 to Brotherhood H. Grant Sharpe took his treble for the 'H' team, whilst there were two for Graham Parkes and one for James-Smith-Daye. Tony Edmonds' two for the losers included an excellent 11-9 in the decider win over Graham Parkes. Rodney Betts contributed the third 'E' team point but Duncan Dunne just failed to get on the score-sheet, losing 11-9 in the decider to Smith-Daye.
In a mid-table clash of two evenly-matched teams, there were a couple each for Tom Wilkin, Mark Beckham and Jonathan Found as Brotherhood I edged past Brotherhood F 6-4. But it was a close-run thing, Beckham involved in 11-9 in the fifth wins over both Barry Allen and Sandie Isaac. Isaac won two and Lee Allen one for the 'F' team, the pair also sharing a doubles win in five over Wilkin and Found.
* There will be at least one team from outside the top flight in the semi-finals of the Handicap Knock-Out Cup, with Division Two Nomads Jaguars drawn to play Third Division side Nomads Ocelots in the quarter-finals. The other Division Three team, Windsor Ospreys, have been given a tough task against Windsor Eagles. The remaining two ties are both all-Division One affairs.
The full draw is Nomads Jaguars v Nomads Ocelots; Brotherhood C v Windsor Condors; Nomads Lions v Walton B; Windsor Eagles v Windsor Ospreys. The matches are scheduled to be played during week beginning 29th February.
* The League will be holding a Quiz Evening on Saturday 12th March at the Brotherhood Hall, Clacton-on-Sea, starting at 7.30 pm. The cost is £2.50 per person for teams of up to six. Everyone - not just League players - is welcome! Bring your own drink and nibbles. To enter a team or for more details phone Viv Rodriguez on 01255 830951.
Walton B 1 Nomads Panthers 9;
Windsor Eagles 7 Windsor Hawks 3;
Nomads Lions 4 Walton C 6;
Windsor Condors 8 Windsor Kestrels 2;
Brotherhood D 1 Brotherhood B 9.
Windsor Owls 9 Nomads Bobcats 1;
Windsor Buzzards 0 Lawford 10;
Nomads Tigers 6 Windsor Harriers 4;
Brotherhood E 3 Brotherhood H 7;
Nomads Jaguars 7 Windsor Magpies 3;
Brotherhood I 6 Brotherhood F 4.
Nomads Leopards 7 Windsor Penguins 3;
Nomads Cougars 1 Windsor Ospreys 9;
Nomads Wildcats 8 Brotherhood G 2;
Walton D 6 Nomads Pumas 4;
Windsor Kites 3 Nomads Ocelots 7;
Windsor Swallows 9 Nomads Lynx 1.