Champions Duffield Parry Pontefract Power In PSL
29 Nov 2006
After a match described by both managers as one of the best they'd ever seen, champions Benz-Bavarian Duffield clinched a 3/2 win over a near full-strength Pontefract in Tuesday's fourth round of the Premier League (PSL) to take over leadership of the Group A table for the first time this season.
The Group B table also has a new club in top position after Surrey Health & Racquets Croydon fought out a 4/1 home win over home county rivals UniSport Guildford. The remaining ties also produced dramatic encounters which went right to the wire as Esporta Oxford squandered a 2/0 lead to see visitors Nottingham prevail 3/2, and event newcomers Redwood Probuild Bristol fell to their first loss of the season when veteran Welshman Alex Gough fought back from 0/2 down in the tie decider to give Tinos Homes Chichester a memorable maiden win of the season.
With Pontefract fielding its two home-grown stars James Willstrop and Lee Beachill - ranked four and eight in the world, respectively - for the first time this season, the Yorkshire club signalled its intention to chalk up its first triumph. Beachill duly delivered, beating Duffield's Jonathan Kemp 4-9, 9-4, 9-1, 9-1.
However, the hosts were already down after Duffield's Tania Bailey - fresh from a quarter-final berth in the Women's World Open Championships in Belfast - and team-mate Laurence Delasaux recorded comfortable wins to put the visitors ahead.
Beachill's win, plus that of Indian national champion Saurav Ghosal, put the eagerly-awaited home victory in the hands of Willstrop - who was lined up against Duffield's top string Nick Matthew, the reigning British National and British Open champion.
Since beating his county compatriot in the Windy City Open in Chicago in January, Willstrop has lost six times in a row to Matthew. And the 23-year-old was unable to stop the run being extended to seven as Matthew claimed supremacy in a sensational match.
"It was one of the best games I've ever seen in the PSL, absolutely unbelievable," said Duffield team manager Brian Hargrave after his player's 9-5, 3-9, 10-8, 11-9 win. "An absoluter classic, the quality was right up there," agreed the home side's manager Malcolm Willstrop. "It was fantastic attacking squash, a match right up there with the best I've ever seen!"
After a dismal last season in which they failed to win a single tie, Nottingham celebrated their second win of the new season at newcomers Esporta Oxford. With a capacity crowd cheering on their star local players, the home team established a healthy 2/0 lead - with Irish champion Madeline Perry, fresh from her starring role in last week's world championships in her home city of Belfast, and adopted Oxfordshire player Kristen Johnson securing popular wins.
Oxfordshire stalwart Mark Cairns, a former British champion now well into 'retirement' from the pro circuit, fought bravely to come back from 0/2 down to level the match against Nottingham's Jethro Binns. But Welshman Binns clinched victory in the fifth, and Nottingham stalwart Simon Parke then levelled the tie with an impressive 9-5, 9-11, 9-7, 9-4 win over Oxfordshire regular Scott Handley.
In the decider, Malaysian Ong Beng Hee extended his unbeaten run for Nottingham with a 9-6, 9-7, 9-11, 10-8 win over Esporta's Cameron Pilley - described by Oxford manager Jason Martin as "a great game to finish off a great night of squash - but a disappointment that we couldn't capitalise on our great start and give our huge home crowd a win!"
Alex Gough was the Chichester hero who gave the south coast club their first win of the season - against visitors Redwood Probuild Bristol in Group B. But Line Hansen and club stalwart Tim Vail provided the two earlier successes for the Sussex side - Vail toppling former British Open champion David Evans 4-9, 9-4, 9-7, 4-9, 9-5 in an impressive 45-minute display.
Bristol's Adrian Grant, the Londoner ranked 13 in the world, took the opening two games against Gough, the reigning British Open Over-35 champion. But the plucky Welshman refused to give up - outplaying his left-handed opponent to record a sensational 6-9, 6-9, 9-5, 9-6, 9-5 win in 73 minutes.
Despite losing 1/4 to Surrey county neighbours Surrey H&RC Croydon, UniSport Guildford manager Ian Robinson was upbeat about his team's performance. "I was impressed with the squad's effort - they really fought got every point!"
Londoner Alison Waters gave the Guildford visitors an early lead with her straight games win over former top four player Stephanie Brind. However, the home team's fire-power was too strong - though in the final rubber Guildford's Stacey Ross, just inside the world top 50, saved a match-ball in the third game against the hosts' Anthony Ricketts and went on to eliminate the world number six's two-game lead.
But the Australian star recovered his form in the decider to beat Ross 9-7, 9-6, 13-15, 6-9, 9-4 to maintain the Croydon club's unbeaten PSL record this season.
Pontefract 2 Benz-Bavarian Duffield 3
James Willstrop lost to Nick Matthew 5-9, 9-3, 8-10, 9-11 (52m)
Lee Beachill bt Jonathan Kemp 4-9, 9-4, 9-1, 9-1 (34m)
Saurav Ghosal bt Andrew Whipp 2-9, 10-8, 9-6, 12-10 (41m)
Ryan Thompson lost to Laurence Delasaux 5-9, 4-9, 9-11 (29m)
Rebecca Botwright lost to Tania Bailey 3-9, 5-9, 2-9 (22m)
Esporta Oxford 2 Nottingham 3
Cameron Pilley lost to Ong Beng Hee 6-9, 7-9, 11-9, 8-10
Scott Handley lost to Simon Parke 5-9, 11-9, 7-9, 4-9
Mark Cairns lost to Jethro Binns 7-9, 7-9, 9-5, 9-7, 5-9
Kristen Johnson bt Arthur Gaskin 8-10, 14-12, 9-7, 9-4 (48m)
Madeline Perry bt Sarah Kippax 9-2, 9-3, 9-1
Tinos Homes Chichester 3 Redwood Probuild Bristol 2
Alex Gough bt Adrian Grant 6-9, 6-9, 9-5, 9-6, 9-5 (73m)
Peter Genever lost to Joseph Kneipp 3-9, 2-9, 9-2, 6-9 (41m)
Tim Vail bt David Evans 4-9, 9-4, 9-7, 4-9, 9-5 (45m)
Tom Pashley lost to Hadrian Stiff 3-9, 3-9, 6-9
Line Hansen bt Helen Gould 9-4, 9-3, 9-1
Surrey Health & Racquets Croydon 4 UniSport Guildford 1
Anthony Ricketts bt Stacey Ross 9-7, 9-6, 13-15, 6-9, 9-4
Davide Bianchetti bt Jesse Engelbrecht 9-4, 9-5, 9-4
Bradley Ball bt Phil Rushworth 9-1, 9-3, 9-4
Tim Garner bt Alex Ingham 9-6, 9-5, 9-4
Stephanie Brind lost to Alison Waters 4-9, 2-9, 4-9