A weakened Southport B, without their star player Tom Ray - away on teaching practice - travelled to Argyle for a damage limitation exercise. Expecting a tough match against Argyle C, and just 5 points behind them with a match in hand, the Southport team hoped to come away still within touching distance of 2nd place.
What they weren't expecting was an Argyle team fielding only one of their registered players, and none of their regular ones. Instead, they faced a very strong team of Joe Howard playing only his 4th match, ably supported by top-of-the-table D team regulars Les Dodd and Callum Richardson, and E team regular Lol Phillips. Where was captain Jules? Oh, yes, making the tea.
The home side got off to a flying start with Joe showing little mercy to Jeff Cummins, winning in three sets. Les Dodd, master of the half-volley push, hoped to follow suit by taking on Alan Nolan, but soon found out it wasn't going to be so easy, just winning the first set 14-12. The next three sets alternated to take it into a fifth which a relieved Les clinched 11-6.
Southport's stand-in, Andy Bush, at first found Lol Phillips' topspin just too much, but got much closer in the third set - if only it had been best of 7! Callum stepped up to beat Jeff in three, but the score line of 5, 8 and 5 belies the closeness of the game. Les Dodd's mixture of push and smash was enough to see off Jim Irving, with the net and edge tally evenly shared.
Lol Phillips then showed why he should be moved up to a higher team by winning a fairly close game against Alan Nolan in 4 sets, before Joe demonstrated once again why he is ranked 12 in the League with a comfortable win over Jim. In the last of the singles, Andy Bush was tenacious against young Callum, but couldn't quite make the breakthrough he needed.
So, 0-8 down and Southport were facing a potential whitewash, not something that would help their drive for promotion! However, the remarkably successful pairing of Cummins and Nolan were determined to keep fighting, and after losing the first set, recovered to take the next three 8, 7 and 10. Whitewash averted! However, the hosts had the last laugh - though not before Doddy's angled drop shots were returned in kind by Irving and Bush, making Les run further than he has done in quite a while, no doubt.
Final score 9-1 to Argyle C/D/E, and a well deserved result.