Cold Norton B and Woodham A continue to bear down on Mapledene A who currently top the leader board of the Burnham & District Table Tennis League, whereas perennial champions Fambridge slip back as they drop points at Maldon. The title this season is really shaping up to be a proper sporting bunfight and long may it continue.
Woodham A delivered another stoic performance to lay down an 8-2 victory away to Mapledene B – but with 6 of the 10 matches going to 5 sets it could easily have been a much closer scoreline. Kaung Htet Paing was unbeaten for Woodham but 3 of his 4 victories came in 5 sets including the doubles where he paired up with Lee McHugh. For Mapledene you have to feel for their strongest two players – John Monk played a full 20 individual legs for 3 losses and just 1 win over Dan Piglet. That’s a tough evening for Monk, but Mapledene’s pen-hold legend Colin Chatfield had it worse as he played just one less leg than Monk but went home empty-handed. A proper battle that one and a result that maintains Woodham’s 100% win rate and keeps them significantly in contention for a podium finish. Woodham’s other top division side didn’t fare so well as they fell 9-1 to a strong Cold Norton B side. Eric Green and Dave Richardson were in fine fettle and went unbeaten all evening across both the singles and doubles formats. Captain Dan Anderson added the further 2 wins, with his only loss coming via a rollercoaster 5 setter against Dan Patynski. Fambridge arrived at the Maldon arena a player down this week and despite winning 6-4 will know those lost points may come back to haunt them come the reckoning day. Fambridge captain John Poysden was able to put down a comfortable hat-trick of singles to be named star baker of the week. Poysden’s wingman on the night was Mark Stones and his only loss came courtesy of the trusty left hand of Maldon’s Jon Stokes. Cold Norton C recorded their second win of the season thanks to the singles form of Kim Shead and Arron Chandler both hitting excellent hat-tricks. Despite their seemingly unbeatable form this didn’t translate into their doubles play where they were duly trounced by Gary Brignall and Richard Storey as Stow were grateful for the extra bonus point.
Woodham C appear unstoppable in Division 2 as they blasted their way to a ninth consecutive victory to maintain their 100% win rate. Not only do they win every week but they win heavily and this week was no exception as they wrapped up they fifth 9-1 mauling of the season. This week the Woodham victims were the very competitive Maldon C regular trio. Maldon’s Steve Aspland and Colin Barrell saved the whitewash with an unexpected doubles victory, otherwise it was hat-tricks all round for Woodham’s Chris Hancox, Graham Briggs and David Meah. Woodham D were hoping to help their C team by putting a dent in second placed Mapledene C’s campaign. An ‘A’ for the intention but probably only an ‘E’ for achievement as they fell 10-0 to the Mapledene crew of Barrie Delf, Sue Body and Lin Roff. Woodham Captain Alan Dadswell gave it a good go with two 5 set defeats that included one specific leg with Roff going to 21-19, but that was as close as they got to helping out their stablemates. Maldon B continue to strive for a top three finish and were able to win out 7-3 against Blackwater A with all their points coming from Dawn Baldry and Colin Napper who were unbeaten. In Napper’s case that was almost undone by Blackwater’s Denis Balic who took the game to a couple of deuces in the fifth set before folding at 11-13. The lovable Dave Goody was on sparkling form for his Stow C team this week – having discarded his pimples he has found some great form of late and this week’s hat-trick is testament to that. Goody’s points were the bedrock of his team’s 7-3 victory over Maldon D. For Maldon the effervescent Brian Riedling won 2 of his singles including a long 5-setter with Pete Layzell. Stow D managed the same scoreline against Blackwater B with Tim Pulham back in great form with 4 wins on the night including the doubles with partner Ken Sheard. Sheard won 2 for Stow and Blackwater’s Louis Gunn matched that with 2 of his own. Cold Norton D curtailed their losing streak with a hard-earned draw against Stow B. Stow’s Nicky Reece-Ford blasted his way to winning all his singles matches with that booming forehand of his and that put Cold Norton in all sorts of trouble. With such a variety of styles on display every player managed to win at least one game so the result came down to the doubles. Stow’s Dave Marsh and the unbeaten Reece-Ford stormed to a 2-0 lead which must have irked Cold Norton’s pairing of Dave Hancox and Peter Lucraft as some kind of mettle was stirred as they fought back and took the final two legs 11-9 to secure the bonus point which facilitated the overall draw.
In Division 3 leaders St Lawrence maintained their undefeated status despite losing a player due to illness after just the first match of the evening’s entertainment against the delightful Blackwater C trio. For St Lawrence Mike Pratley won all his singles including a 5 set marathon against Deb Ginn that went past deuce in that deciding leg, and Roy Hutchins won 2 of his singles including another post-deuce 5th set victory over the unlucky Ginn. Hutchins did fall to the capable play of Kath Little – again in 5 sets. So to complete the theme Hutchins won his remaining singles against Phil West in 5 sets, and then paired up with Pratley for the doubles, and yes that was in 5 sets too. If, over the next few days, anyone spots Hutchins hobbling around the streets of the Dengie, looking like John Wayne after a 4 hour horse ride, then you’ll know why! Blackwater E travelled to Woodham and came home with the spoils following a 6-4 win led by a Peter Davenport hat-trick and 2 wins for David Sage. For Woodham the ever improving Peter Harverson scored two impressive victories to bolster his confidence and reputation. The final game of the week was a much anticipated Maldon Derby – a youth versus experience encounter with an average age/experience gap of 50+ years. After the first rounds of the singles the match was even at 3-3. Then the youth of Maldon E Jude Mayet and Arthur Shadforth outshone the experienced F team pairing of Brian Dixon and Roger Warren to take a 4-3 lead. The F team’s Dennis Eraut evened up the match again with a 4 set victory over Matthew Copsey. So going into the final two games and late into the evening would the strength and vitality of the youth overcome the tiring limbs and concentration of their experienced foes. Well yes it did and rather emphatically too as Shadforth and Mayet wrapped things up with 2 quickfire straight sets victories to once and for all confirm that youth trumps experience. 6-4 to the youthful Maldon E trio.
Pic 1 – The runaway Div 2 Leaders Woodham C – Graham Briggs, Chris Hancox & David Meah
Pic 2 – John Poysden racking up another hat-trick for Fambridge against Lloyd Bennett-Smith of Maldon A
Pic 3 – Woodham A’s unbeaten Kaung Htet Paing in action this week
Pic 4 – St Lawrence’s hard-working Roy Hutchins playing a full 20 legs this week – in his 5 set victory over Phil West
Pic 5 – The proof that youth can prevail over experience – Maldon E trio – Arthur Shadforth, Jude Mayet and Matthew Copsey.