DIVISION 5 – 18.11.18 – DAY 2
SPARTA OPEN A GAP AT THE TOP OF THE TABLE
At the start of Day 2, Sparta led the table with a clean sheet. Darenth G and South Croydon C were in joint second place on eight but there was a gap to Otford D on two, Darenth H and South Croydon D both being on one.
There was a tasty match in this Round where Darenth G (Eddie Gillhouley/George Lipscombe) faced their old rivals South Croydon C (Rocco Martinez-Paoli/Leone Saccoh). No quarter was likely to be asked for or given and nor was it. The opening singles between Gillhouley and Martinez-Paoli was one to savour. It was a very lengthy five game set with some fine counter attacking play from both boys. It went to five with Gillhouley pulling back a 1-2 deficit. Martinez-Paoli took the lead in the fifth and just about managed to fend Gillhouley off 11-8 at the end. Darenth then came with a run of three sets to take the lead. Lipscombe redressed the balance with a straight games win over Saccoh, the doubles went in three close games to Darenth and Gillhouley turned a 0-2 deficit into a five game win against Saccoh. Martinez-Paoli had the upper hand against Lipscombe initially but then struggled to close the third at 12-10.
David Smith stood in for Paul Hilton who is out of action after foot surgery, to accompany Rob Foster for Sparta against Otford D (Mike Gold/John Broyden). The Otford men did their best but this is a very strong Sparta team who will want some stopping.
Darenth H (Henry Morrell/Dan Record) had a battle with South Croydon D (Robin Faulkner/Amro Sinjab). The opening singles were shared - Morrell defeated Faulkner in straight games while Record took a game from Sinjab. South Croydon were on a roll. They took the doubles and Sinjab his second singles for a winning lead. Record beat Faulkner in straight games but it almost went to a fourth. It was thus 3-2 to South Croydon D.
After three Rounds Sparta on 15 opened up a four point lead over Darenth G who were one point ahead of South Croydon C on 10. South Croydon D had moved into fourth on four points. Darenth H had three points and Otford D remained on two.
Sparta (Foster/Smith) found themselves with tough opposition in South Croydon C (Martinez-Paoli/Saccoh). Martinez-Paoli shot out of the traps against Foster, got hauled back before sprinting away with the next two games. It put paid to Foster’s 100% record. Saccoh got out angled by Smith after taking the first game. Sparta won the doubles and then the reverse singles brought two of the best sets of the day. Martinez-Paoli went for his shots against Smith and initially it paid off, but Smith doesn’t mind someone attacking and he began to turn the big shots to his own advantage. Martinez-Paoli opted to push around but this played into Smith’s hands and he found it difficult to break out. Smith had it sussed and got home 11-7 in the fifth. Saccoh isn’t averse to firing off the big shots but found himself 0-2 down to Foster and had to pull in his horns, taking the third 11-8 and the fourth 12-10. Being let off the hook, he managed to hold on to win in five and peg the score to 2-3.
There was quite a tussle in the local derby between Darenth H (Morrell/Record) and Otford D (Gold/Broyden). The opening set saw Gold take a 2-1 lead over Morrell who then regrouped to take the fourth before squeezing home 12-10 in the fifth. Record made it 2-0 with a win over Broyden and the doubles went to five games with Darenth recovering from 1-2 down to take it 11-8 in the fifth. A very weary Morrell put whatever was left in the tank on the line against Broyden and just about scraped home 12-10 in the fourth. Gold was determined to get a point on the board and kept Record at bay to make it 1-4.
Darenth G (Gillhouley/Lipscombe) were out of the blocks fast against South Croydon D (Faulkner/Sinjab) with straight games win for Gillhouley over Faulkner and Lipscombe over Sinjab. Darenth added the doubles in five but South Croydon put the brakes on when Sinjab defeated Gillhouley in four. Lipscombe wrapped it up with a straight games win over Faulkner for a 4-1 victory.
At the close of play on Day 2, Sparta on 18 had a three point lead over Darenth G on 15 who, in turn, are three points clear of South Croydon C. There is a five point gap to Darenth H on seven with South Croydon D on five and Otford D on three. In effect the Division has begun to polarise. However, there are still three meetings to go and anything could, and probably will, happen before the last point of the season is won.