from the scratchy nib of Peter Florence :
Pete Barrow played two matches simultaneously on adjacent tables and came through with his unbeaten record intact. He was joined by Kannan Nithi and Kevin Taylor as Stratford A maintained their winning run by imposing the whitewash upon their colleagues Stratford C, although, for the first time this season, Barrow conceded a set to the rapidly improving Rob Bartkowski who subsequently came close to gaining some consolation for the third string after twice losing at deuce to Taylor.
Barrow also represented Stratford B as they shared the spoils with Ashorne, with his treble being supplemented by a deserved first league victory for newcomer Ian Nash who took the honours 12-10 in the decider against Andrea Cervi. The final outcome of the match hinged upon the concluding doubles where the Stratford B pairing of Nash and Barrow overcame loss of the first two ends to win over the distance. Andy Coonan and Mark Bridgeman notched braces for Ashorne with Cervi adding their crucial fifth point.
A strong Snitterfield team claimed a maximum when they entertained Stratford D with John Price, Don McAdam and Clive Irwin taking the plaudits without conceding a single end.
Colebridge Pasties also imposed the whitewash which took them back to the top of the table. Mahroof Hussain, Mike Credland and Bernard Oliver were too good for Blazing Paddles, although Oliver had to contest the full five sets with Wilf Chan.
In contrast it was a close encounter when Shottery A entertained Colebridge Bulldogs with the result in doubt until the final game. Shottery got off to a great start by racing to a 4-0 lead, only for their opponents to fight back to secure four of the next five games. Gary Stewart led the way for the hosts by securing a treble, and successfully partnering Stephen Foster in the doubles, while Graham Poole contributed a further point. Chris Welsh led the Bulldogs fightback by overturning an early disadvantage to beat Foster in the only clash to go the full distance. Andy Rowland added a brace and John Swinburne another point to bring the score to 5-4 and set up a thrilling finale in which Foster’s pimpled bat proved too much for Swinburne thereby giving Shottery A the narrowest of victories.
Tanworth Taipans and Shottery B both won 7-3 despite only fielding two players. Jason Rainey and Mick Welsh each notched trebles for Taipans who took on JLM Kingfishers, although Welsh was taken to the wire by Stef Mytton. Shottery B were victorious in identical circumstances when they visited Veterans with Gareth Hepworth and Tony Remes delivering perfect performances. However, in the only game to go the full distance, Remes had to put aside a two set deficit against Brian Marston before claiming their fifth end decider.
The final first round tie of the knockout cup saw the Stratford A trio of Richard Grover, Kannan Nithi and Alex Boyd advance at the expense of Blazing Paddles after earning 374 points which was 128 more than their opponents. The handicap adjustment was 53 thereby ensuring Stratford A’s winning margin was 75.