DIVISION 6 – 25.02.18 – DAY 4
DARENTH H CONSOLIDATE AS SOUTH CROYDON’S CHALLENGE FADES
The weekend of 24/25th February was a busy one for the League with a Junior Development Division 1 meeting on the Saturday and Division 6 on the Sunday. By contrast to the lively exuberance of the Junior meeting, Division 6 was quiet despite seven of the 12 players being youngsters. The Development Division had brought surprises in abundance and there were more in store the next day.
Day 4 is often a turning point in the schedule as the promotion and relegation issues begin to crystalize. Darenth H were in pole position at the head of the Division on 26 with South Croydon D second on the grid on 23. There was a gap of six to Darenth I on 17 and further six to Halstead C and Bromley Common E were level on 11 with Tandridge finding life in Division 6 a bit tough on two.
Darenth H (Eddie Gillhouley/George Lipscombe) had Tandridge to play. They, however, were down to one player and had only Alex Wright available. He managed to score a point for his team by beating Gillhouley but it was four in the bank for Darenth.
South Croydon D (Omari Levers/Leone Saccoh) needed to keep pace with Darenth H if they could but tackling Halstead C’s Peter Sinclair and Mike Sefton was not going to be easy. Sefton is well known for his devotion to the hard bat cause and travels the world to veterans’ events. Hard bat choppers are not a common sight these days and as such, juniors don’t get much practice against them. Sinclair defends well too but attacks more than Sefton and the South Croydon boys had to adjust. Levers managed to take a game from Sinclair in the opening set and they also took a game in the doubles but they were 0-4 down before Saccoh got a point on the board by defeating Sinclair in five.
The closest match was that between Darenth I where Daniel Record was making his League main competition debut alongside Sophia Lipscombe against Bromley Common E (Philip Kiernander/Mike Elliott) who are quite tricky customers to play. It was a very keenly fought match where three sets went the distance and another to four games. Record was lacking match practice but gave of his best. He looked as if he was going to push Kiernander to a decider but it slipped away from him 10-12. Lipscombe places the ball well and came back from 0-2 to level. Elliott built a huge lead in the fifth but she kept getting the shots back on the table, eventually catching up and edging home 11-9. Darenth won the doubles in five after being 2-0 up to get the lead. Elliott got the better of Record to level so it was down to Lipscombe and Kiernander to decide the outcome. Typically, it went to five games with Lipscombe holding Kiernander off 11-9 to make it a 3-2 victory for Darenth I.
Darenth H on 30 points had thus increased their lead over South Croydon D on 24. Darenth I were handily placed on 20. Halstead C were on 15, two ahead of Bromley Common E on 13. Tandridge had added another point so their total was three.
The Saccoh family surprised everyone after this Round serving a magnificent cake for their son to celebrate his birthday. It was much appreciated by everyone who wished Leone all the best.
The main match in this Round was the top of the table clash between South Croydon D (Saccoh/Levers) and Darenth H (Gillhouley/George Lipscombe.) It was quite a tussle with every point being virtually worth double. Saccoh could have beaten Gillhouley in straight games but Gillhouley persevered and turned it around in five. Levers wasn’t quite sure how to deal with Lipscombe’s defence and succumbed in straight games. The Lipscombe family excel in keeping the ball on the island and George is no exception. The South Croydon boys got it together in the doubles after dropping the third so that was one on the board. Darenth H won both the reverse singles though Gillhouley had to borrow his brother Joe’s Houdini hat to come back from 1-2 down to beat Levers. A 4-1 victory certainly helped Darenth H’s cause but was a disappointing result for South Croydon.
Halstead C (Sinclair/Sefton) were given a run for their money by Bromley Common E (Elliott/Kiernander), two sets going to five games and two more required a fourth game. Halstead C won both the opening singles, Sefton beating Elliott in straight games whilst Sinclair was put under heavy pressure by Kiernander – a glance at the scores tells the story – 12-10, 11-9, 13-15, 10-12, 13-11 to Sinclair couldn’t have been much closer! Halstead are generally secure on their doubles but they had a spot of bother here and had to go to five to win which gave them a 3-0 lead. They added both the reverse singles to keep a clean sheet but not without a lot of hard work. Chapeau to them both for their efforts.
One of the other Halstead players kept Tandridge’s Alex Wright company against Darenth I (Lipscombe/Record) though those results wouldn’t count. Wright took both players to a fourth game but wasn’t able to extend them to a fifth.
At the close of play, Darenth H were well ahead on 34 with South Croydon D and Darenth I equal in second spot on 25. Halstead C have 20, Bromley Common E 13 and Tandridge three.
Darenth H need only one point at the last meeting to secure the title whereas South Croydon need all ten points and for Darenth H to slip up badly. This seems unlikely and they would win even if there is a tie as they have already beaten South Croydon D twice. However, South Croydon’s main concern will be Darenth I who could yet pip them on the post for promotion.