Northumberland Table Tennis Association Team Handicap Knockout Cup (2018-19)
The last match in the Winter League 2018-19 was the final of the Team Handicap KO Cup which, as the name indicates, allocates a handicap to each individual player. This allows players from lower divisions to play against the stronger higher placed teams with a points start, enabling closer games.
Thirty-eight teams entered with the first matches being played in October 2018. All told there were six rounds with the final being played, at a neutral venue, between Prudhoe and District United Services Club and Cramlington Trojans on the last day of March 2019.
The route to the final for Prudhoe was 6-3 against Ouston A; 5-1 against Brandon Bravehearts; 5-4 against Cramlington Cobras and 5-4 against Cramlington Falcons.
The Trojans advance was through a 6-3 win over Cramlington Dragons; 5-4 against Ouston B; 7-2 against Cramlington Jaguars and 5-4 against Mount B.
Prudhoe’s team was Andrew Firth, Maurice Cheek and Mark O’Connor. Jack Cairns, Alastair Johnson and Israel Shodeinde made up the Trojans.
Match 1 saw Andrew Firth giving a 7 point start to Alastair Johnson which he overcome to take the first game for Prudhoe.
Match 2 followed with Mark O’Connor giving 10 points to Jack Cairns. O’Connor found the rapidly improving Cairns too much and lost in 2 ends to make the match score one all.
The following 2 matches saw Maurice Cheek loose to Israel Shodeinde and O’Connor loose to Johnson both in 2 ends.
Match 5 between Firth and Shodeinde was the first 3 ender when Firth overcome the 8 start of Shodeinde to win 21-12; 11-21 and 21-18.
In match 6 Cheek lost against Cairns.
Match 7 again showed Firth overcoming an 8 point start when he beat Shodeinde 21-19; 21-19 to bring the score to 3 points for Prudhoe and 4 points to Trojans. The next match was going to be crucial.
Match 8 saw Cheek play Johnson with Johnson having a 4 point start. Never the less Johnson found Cheek’s pimples a little difficult and lost the first end to Cheek 21-12. In end 2 Johnson recovered to take the end 18-12. The last was again tight. At the half way turnover Johnson seemed to have the game in hand but Cheek stepped up to make it 19-16 to him. Johnson reacted and drew back the score to 20 all. In a nail biting finish Johnson then took the last 2 points to make it 20-22 to Trojans thus winning the overall match 5-3.
Firth and Cairns had both won their 2 matches and though the match was won it was good to see them playing in a ding dong match in which Firth was narrowly beaten, 21-17; 16-21 and 18-21.
The KO Cup and runner up and trophies from winter league and closed tournament will be presented at Goals Newcastle, High Gosforth Park, Newcastle, NE3 5HP.