It's tight at the top of Division Three of the Clacton and District League with just a point separating leaders Brotherhood G and second-placed Windsor Penguins.
Brotherhood G held onto their narrow lead thanks to an 8-2 victory over Nomads Caracals. Mark Beckham and Paul Metcalf were undefeated, the pair also sharing an 11-8 in the fifth doubles win over Chris Jones and Denise Thompson. Jones and Thompson won a point apiece for the Caracals although it was a close 11-9 in the fifth for Thompson against Graham Healey.
The Penguins maintained their promotion hopes with a convincing 9-1 victory over club-mates Windsor Kites. Debra Found and Alan Charman took hat-tricks, and Sue Chillingworth a couple. Carl Hubbard picked up the Kites' point.
So, with just half-a-dozen matches to play, the race for the title looks like going down to the wire, with the meeting of the two teams on 21st March more crucial than ever.
The sides currently third and fourth, Nomads Lynx and Brotherhood J, enjoyed a good scrap when they met at the URC Hall, five of the individual matches being extended to a deciding set. Every player had the satisfaction of recording at least one win but it was Liam Harris's hat-trick which tipped the scales 6-4 in favour of the Lynx. Cameron Cini contributed an 11-9 in the fifth victory over Maci Harvey but went down by the same score to Harley Wood, whilst Dave Harris had three close matches, beating Wood 12-10 in the fifth but losing 11-5 in the fifth to Harvey and 11-8 in the fifth to Dan Still. Still won twice for Brotherhood.
At the other end of the table, it was 9-1 for the Leopards in the all-Nomads clash against the Ocelots, a result which leaves the Ocelots isolated at the bottom. Dave Wright and Stewart Wilkinson were unbeaten for the Leopards, whilst Norman Jacobs came oh-so-close to taking a treble, denied by Martin Cunningham who took their individual match 11-6, 13-11, 5-11, 12-14, 12-10 in the final encounter of the evening
Robbie Strutt of Windsor Swallows is a player on fire and he took his sixth maximum in as many matches in the fixture with Nomads Pumas. Alas for Strutt, they were his team's only points, the Pumas running out 7-3 victors, Lionel Goddard, John Bowers and Alan Dockerill all taking two.
In Division One runaway leaders Nomads Panthers were without a match whilst second-placed Walton A had an easier task than they may have anticipated when travel problems prevented one of Brotherhood C's players from getting to the venue. The final result was 7-3 to Walton, their closest win an 11-13, 13-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-8 success for Paul Woolnough against Kevin Pryor. Ollie Reynolds' two for the losers included a 12-10 in the decider win against Kevin James, whilst Reynolds and Pryor took the doubles 11-7 in the fifth against Woolnough and Gavin Price.
Three for Andy Warner and two for Gracie Edwards helped Brotherhood B to a 6-4 win against Windsor Condors, a result which consolidates Brotherhood's third-place. Mel Rampton with two, and Felipe Rodriguez and Annabelle Rodriguez with one each, were Windsor's points-scorers.
Jason Gale produced his best form of the season to stay unbeaten in Walton B's 8-2 victory over Walton C, albeit that it was a tight 11-5 in the fifth against John Rankin and an even tighter 12-10 in the fifth against Graham Buxton. Colin Dearman and Derek Willis each won two for the 'B' team but Rankin enjoyed a good win for the 'C' team over Dearman, as did Paul Newbould over Willis.
Windsor Eagles were comfortable 9-1 winners against Windsor Kestrels. Phil Smith and Gary Cattermole took trebles and only Dave Martin's victory over John Pattrick prevented an Eagles' clean sweep.
The closest match of the week was the drawn encounter between Windsor Hawks and Brotherhood D, the Hawks taking the last four individual matches of the evening to earn a share of the spoils. Every player won at least once but no-one stayed unbeaten, George Berry winning two for the Hawks, as did Russell Hillier and Scott Campbell for Brotherhood. Five matches went the distance, Berry beating Campbell 11-5 in the fifth but losing in five to Hillier, whilst Hawks' skipper Barton defeated Lee Harvey 11-8 in the fifth. For Brotherhood, Harvey defeated Elliott Attrill 11-9 in the fifth whilst Campbell beat Barton 12-10 in the fifth.
Nomads Tigers are fast emerging as favourites for the Division Two title, this week recording seventeen points from two matches.
John Hockley was their undefeated hero in the 8-2 success over Nomads Jaguars. Phil Wolski and Eric Lemke each contributed a couple although it was a close 11-8 in the fifth for Wolski against Andy Cawley. Mike Wellum's two points for the Jaguars included a 5-11, 12-14, 11-7, 11-7, 14-12 victory over Wolski.
The Tigers followed this with a 9-1 win against Walton D, Pawel Szemro and Daryl Lott their maximum men on this occasion. Hockley narrowly failed to make it two hat-tricks in two days, going down 11-9 in the decider to Rivhu Khan.
The Tigers' main rivals, Lawford, enjoyed a 7-3 win against Windsor Buzzards. Paul Hewitt took his customary three, his match against Ray Chillingworth the only one to go the distance. John Colvin picked up two and Ian Sherwood one, with each of the Buzzards' players - Chillingworth, Pete Bloomfield and Alan Rutledge - having the consolation of taking a point.
A good all-round team performance from Brotherhood H saw them home 7-3 against Windsor Harriers. Frank Burbidge won three, and Woody Fitzpatrick and Tricia Salter two each. The Harriers took the only match which went to five, Isabel Barton and Jenny Higgins winning the doubles 6-11, 10-12, 11-7, 15-13, 11-6 against Salter and Fitzpatrick.
Graham Parkes and Paul Alden stayed unbeaten, and Fred Gallone won twice, as Brotherhood I cantered past Brotherhood E 9-1. Duncan Dunne took the losers' point.
And it was an even more convincing 10-0 for Brotherhood D against Windsor Magpies, Barry Allen, Sandie Krelle and reserve Mark Beckham all unbeaten.
* The draw for Round Four of the Handicap Knock-Out Cup has produced a mouth-watering all-Division One Nomads' clash between the Lions and the Tigers. The only Division Three side left in the competition, Nomads Pumas, have been rewarded with a tough-looking assignment away to Division Two Brotherhood H. The other two ties see Second Division teams Windsor Magpies and Nomads Tigers face top-flight opposition in Brotherhood B and Windsor Kestrels respectively. The matches are due to be played during week beginning 5th March.
* The Closed Championships will take place on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th April. To qualify, players from Divisions One and Two will need to have played six League matches by 24th March, whilst the qualification is five matches for Division Three players. Entry forms will be available by the beginning of March.
However, before that will be the Junior Combination Tournament which takes place at the Windsor venue on Friday 9th March, play starting at 7.00 pm.
* A reminder to Team Secretaries that matches between teams from the same Club, which are scheduled to be played in the last two weeks of the season, need to be brought forward and played before 13th April. The affected matches are noted in the League handbook (page 23).
Windsor Hawks 5 Brotherhood D 5;
Windsor Kestrels 1 Windsor Eagles 9;
Walton A 7 Brotherhood C 3;
Walton B 8 Walton C 2;
Brotherhood B 6 Windsor Condors 4.
Nomads Jaguars 2 Nomads Tigers 8;
Brotherhood F 10 Windsor Magpies 0;
Brotherhood I 9 Brotherhood E 1;
Windsor Harriers 3 Brotherhood H 7;
Lawford 7 Windsor Buzzards 3;
Nomads Tigers 9 Walton D 1.
Nomads Lynx 6 Brotherhood J 4;
Windsor Penguins 9 Windsor Kites 1;
Nomads Ocelots 1 Nomads Leopards 9;
Windsor Swallows 3 Nomads Pumas 7;
Brotherhood G 8 Nomads Caracals 2.