Nottingham Top PSL Group Table For First Time In Season

7 Feb 07

A thundering 5/0 home win over Pontefract in the sixth round of the Premier League (PSL) takes former champions Nottingham to the top of the Group A points table for the first time this season. By contrast, Surrey Health & Racquets Croydon suffered their first defeat of the season - losing 2/3 at home to county rivals Luxfords St George's Hill - yet maintain their leadership in Group B of the England Squash league sponsored by Clowes Insurance.

Elsewhere, Esporta Oxford recorded their second win of the season, beating University of Birmingham 4/1 and now share the same number of Group A points as their West Midlands rivals. But UniSport Guildford failed to lift themselves off the bottom of the Group B table after slumping 1/4 at home to Tinos Homes Chichester.

It was a confident Pontefract squad that arrived in Nottingham, led by world No12 Lee Beachill fresh from his appearance in the final of the Virginia Pro Championship in the USA. However, Pontefract-based New Zealand star Shelley Kitchen withdrew from the squad at the last minute, leaving local player Kirsty McPhee to face up to Nottingham's world top 20-ranked Dominique Lloyd-Walter.

Spurred on by local supporters, Lloyd-Walter beat McPhee 9-5, 8-10, 9-6, 9-6 - and wins by team-mates Jethro Binns and Arthur Gaskin confirmed Nottingham's victory. But local hero Simon Parke extended the club's lead after beating Pontefract's Indian national champion Saurav Ghosal 10-8, 5-9, 9-7, 10-8, and Malaysian star Ong Beng Hee overcame a perhaps jet-lagged Beachill 9-4, 9-3, 10-8 to give the hosts maximum points.

Another Malaysian star in action could have been forgiven for feeling the effects of jet lag. But Nicol David, the world number one and World Open champion who flew into Europe only today from a three-week training session in Melbourne with Australian legend Sarah Fitz-Gerald showed no signs of tiredness as she despatched St George's Hill's Adel Weir 9-2, 9-1, 9-3 as Surrey H&R Croydon opened up an early lead.

But the advantage was short-lived as the two final matches of the night provided marathon wins for the visitors - Essex's Daryl Selby, with two PSA Tour titles under his belt over the past ten days, beating Croydon's experienced team manager Tim Garner 9-5, 10-12, 9-5, 6-9, 9-5 in 54 minutes - and Leeds-based Alister Walker defeating Italian Davide Bianchetti, ranked four places higher in the world, 12-10, 6-9, 10-12, 9-5, 9-6 in 73 minutes.

University of Birmingham made a powerful start in their visit to Esporta Oxford when rising English star Laura-Jane Lengthorn conquered Irish No1 Madeline Perry, ranked three places higher in the world, 9-6, 8-10, 9-2, 9-3. But this turned out to be the visitors only win as Oxford newcomer Thomas Phipps beat Chris Truswell in four games and club heroes Scott Handley and Mark Cairns - both long-time Oxfordshire stalwarts - repelled up-and-coming talents Stephen Coppinger and Jaymie Haycocks, respectively.

In the final match, Australian Cameron Pilley delighted the Esporta club fans by beating Joel Hinds 9-5, 9-5, 3-9, 9-4 to end the night on a high note.

It was a similar tale for UniSport Guildford when Alison Waters opened the account for the Surrey hosts with a convincing 9-1, 9-6, 9-3 victory over Chichester's Dane Line Hansen. But the England international's club mates were unable to back her up as the visitors' Tom Pashley, Tim Vail and Peter Genever earned controlled four-games wins over their host opponents.

The final encounter proved to be a close-fought clash between two of the game's most experienced players - but it was Chichester's Welsh No1 and British Open O35 champion Alex Gough who ultimately prevailed, beating the Guildford club's top string Stacey Ross 13-11, 10-8, 6-9, 9-6.

6th round, Tuesday 6 February 2007

Group A:
Nottingham 5 Pontefract 0
Ong Beng Hee bt Lee Beachill 9-4, 9-3, 10-8
Simon Parke bt Saurav Ghosal 10-8, 5-9, 9-7, 10-8
Jethro Binns bt Stuart Crawford 9-7, 4-9, 9-5, 9-4
Arthur Gaskin bt Andrew Cross 9-5, 9-3, 9-1
Dominique Lloyd-Walter bt Kirsty McPhee 9-5, 8-10, 9-6, 9-6

Esporta Oxford 4 University of Birmingham 1
Cameron Pilley bt Joel Hinds 9-5, 9-5, 3-9, 9-4
Scott Handley bt Stephen Coppinger 9-6, 9-3, 10-8
Mark Cairns bt Jaymie Haycocks 9-5, 9-4, 5-9, 9-5
Thomas Phipps bt Chris Truswell 10-8, 9-1, 5-9, 9-7
Madeline Perry lost to Laura-Jane Lengthorn 6-9, 10-8, 2-9, 3-9

Group B:
UniSport Guildford 1 Tinos Homes Chichester 4
Stacey Ross lost to Alex Gough 11-13, 8-10, 9-6, 6-9
Stephen Meads lost to Peter Genever 3-9, 3-9, 9-7, 7-9
Phil Rushworth lost to Tim Vail 6-9, 3-9, 9-1, 7-9
Alex Ingham lost to Tom Pashley 9-11, 2-9, 9-4, 5-9
Alison Waters bt Line Hansen 9-1, 9-6, 9-3

Surrey Health & Racquets Croydon 2 Luxfords St George's Hill 3
Davide Bianchetti lost to Alister Walker 10-12, 9-6, 12-10, 5-9, 6-9 (73m)
Tim Garner lost to Daryl Selby 5-9, 12-10, 5-9, 9-6, 5-9 (54m)
Chris Simpson bt Tom Richards 7-9, 9-5, 9-7, 9-1
James Robbins lost to John Rooney 1-9, 7-9, 4-9
Nicol David bt Adel Weir 9-2, 9-1, 9-3