From our own correspondent , Peter Florence :
Shottery A defeated Stratford C 9-1 to deliver a clear declaration of their intent to mount a serious challenge for the league title. Stephen Foster led the way with a treble, acquired without the loss of a set, despite being made to work hard for victory by Alistair Francis. Gary Stewart maintained his unbeaten start to the season, with Graham Poole adding their other two points. However Poole had to overturn an early disadvantage before getting the better of Richard Grover who was unlucky to lose out after scoring five points more than his victorious opponent over the course of their five sets. In a hard fought contest Poole was defeated by the in-form Rob Bartkowski who thereby gained Stratford C’s only consolation. Bartkowski came close to adding to his haul when partnered by Grover in the doubles where the pair were narrowly beaten in the decider by Foster and Stewart.
After four matches the top three teams have pulled clear of the pack with Shottery A leading the table on 37 points, one ahead of Colebridge Pasties and two more than third placed Stratford A.
Blazing Paddles were fortunate to come away with a draw when they were entertained by Shottery B who, for the third time this season, were only able to field two players. Nello Mauri gave Paddles the perfect start by overcoming fierce resistance to take the honours against Tony Remes. However the remaining singles games all went the way of the hosts with Gareth Hepworth earning a treble and Remes a brace. The final outcome of the match hinged on the doubles where Mauri partnered new signing Tadge Sabatowski. In a thrilling encounter, the pair overturned loss of the first two ends to clinch the fifth 13-11 and ensure the teams finished with honours even.
Colebridge Pasties were involved in cup action where they advanced at the expense of Stratford D. Their trio of Rod Lewis, Mahroof Hussain and Bob Brown claimed all 18 sets to chalk up the maximum 378 points. Stratford D acquired 107, of which 59 were earned by the impressive Ian Nash, but the handicap difference was just 140 thereby ensuring Pasties will contest a second round clash with their stablemates Colebridge Bulldogs.
Closest encounter of the week was the cup tie between Henley and JLM Kingfishers. The villagers team of Nigel Payne, Dave Hatcher and Peter Quince amassed 323 points which was 13 more than their opponents. This was reduced to a narrow winning margin of just seven after application of the handicap.
The Stratford B team of Kevin Taylor, Michael Klein and Rob Bartkowski also progressed to the next stage at the expense of Tanworth Taipans who were represented by just two registered players.