DIVISION 3 –27.01.19 – DAY 4
SOUTH CROYDON B MAKE A CHARGE FOR SAFETY AS HALSTEAD A STAY IN TOUCH WITH CLEEVE PARK A
At the start of Day 4 Division 3 was neatly compartmentalised – Cleeve Park A led on 23 with Halstead A in second place on 20. Halstead B on 16 and Darenth D on 13 held the middle ground while Otford A and South Croydon B were on nine apiece. This is certainly one of the more interestingly balanced Divisions and a good afternoon’s competition was expected.
The top of the table clash between Halstead A (Andy Larner/Ted Tydeman) and Cleeve Park A (Bryan Taylor/Tony Annand) was a lengthy affair where the first four sets went to four games and the fifth to five. Halstead took the first two sets – Larner beating Taylor 11-6 in the fourth while Annand almost pushed Tydeman to a fifth, losing only 10-12 after skating away with the third game. Cleeve Park staged a revival in the doubles which they won in four. Annand backed this up with a win over Larner which left Tydeman and Taylor to settle the issue. It was quite an interesting set as Taylor employs a lob defence while hitting high balls isn’t exactly Tydeman’s forte, so it became a battle of length control and angles. It went to five with an exhausted Taylor finally having to give best 15-13, 11-6, 5-11, 13-15, 11-5. So, it ended as a 3-2 victory for Halstead.
The two bottom teams needed to make a move towards the safety zone. Otford A (Sarah Maris/Jules Truss) took on Halstead B who had Robin Symonds helping out Alan Johnson. Otford took the opening singles comfortably enough and then added the doubles in five, recouping a 1-2 deficit to do so. Maris made it four with a win over Symonds but Truss lost an epic battle with Johnson in five – 11-9, 11-8, 10-12, 10-12, 11-3 give an idea. It was, however, a point on the board for Halstead B.
South Croydon B (Sam Porter/Yuvathi Vijay) were likewise aiming to throw a spanner in the works against Darenth D (Mike Tylor/Luigi Vanzan). The opening set was a cliff hanger swinging this way and that. Penholders are usually attackers, but Tyler prefers to defend at close quarters and Porter found himself working very hard for each point he got - 11-9, 5-11, 12-10, 9-11, 11-9 to Tyler tells the story. South Croydon won all the remaining sets in straight games bar the last where Vijay had to go to four to beat Tyler, resulting in a 4-1 victory for South Croydon B.
After seven Rounds the situation at the top was status quo but now only four points cover the rest, Otford A and South Croydon making a determined charge for safety.
There were two very close matches in this Round which impact upon the table. South Croydon B (Porter/Vijay) were looking to continue their bid to avoid relegation and would present quite a challenge for promotion hunters Halstead A (Larner/Tydeman). The opening singles were shared with Larner getting the better of Porter in four. Vijay set about tackling Twiddling Ted in a very sensible fashion, picking the right returns to pick off and not making too much of the running. It brought her a straight games win. South Croydon combined well in the doubles with Vijay continuing to pick off the loose ones for a four game win. Porter had his problems with Tydeman and went down in four so it was up to Larner and Vijay to decide the outcome. Vijay made some excellent returns when Larner attacked, including one quite remarkable block to a very good angle late in the third game where she appeared to be out of position. It helped her over the line for a straight win and victory for her team.
Cleeve Park A (Annand/Taylor) were given a run for their money by Halstead B (Symonds/Johnson). The opening sets were shared. Annand gave no quarter to Symonds while Johnson was clearly enjoying tackling Taylor’s lob defence and won in four. Cleeve Park won the doubles in four games for a 2-1 lead. Taylor defeated Symonds for a winning 3-1 lead while Johnson pegged the score to 2-3 by beating Annand in four.
Sarah Maris was on her own for Otford A against Darenth D (Vanzan/Tyler) as Truss who had been doubtful to play at all, went home feeling unwell after the first match. Maris found her way past Vanzan for a point and then resumed the history of long duels with Tyler. This set was no exception. Tyler led 2-1 but Maris wriggled off the hook to level. The last game was anyone’s and it went to Tyler 11-9, making a 4-1 victory for Darenth D. Darenth were relieved to get the points but duly sympathetic to Maris.
At the close of Day 4 while Cleeve Park A on 28 and Halstead A on 25 remain the front runners, there was a closing up between the other four teams. Halstead B on 19 are not out of the running just yet nor are Darenth D on 18 but South Croydon B on 16 have switched places with Otford A on 14 and neither of the third or fourth placed teams can feel safe as the pressure builds for the final meeting.