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21 Jun 2024

Pontefract Mount Late New Year PSL Challenge

30 Jan 2008

Playing their strongest team of the campaign as the second half of the season got underway, Pontefract mounted a late challenge for Premier League (PSL) success with a 4/1 home win over former champions Nottingham in Tuesday's sixth round of the prestigious England Squash league sponsored by Towergate tlc. Despite remaining at the foot of the Group A standings, only a single point separates the Yorkshire club from the two teams above!

Elsewhere in the group, Australian Stewart Boswell clinched the decider for Benz-Bavarian Duffield against Energie Fitness Redditch as the Derbyshire title-holders extended their record to 21 ties in a row without defeat. But second-placed University Sport Birmingham have narrowed the gap behind Duffield with a 4/1 away win at Esporta Oxford.

PCL Whitehall Security Surrey H&RC maintained their unbeaten record this season In Group B with a 3/2 win at Probuild Bristol - but PNH Properties Chichester are still only 14 points adrift of the table-toppers after recording a 4/1 home win against UniSport Guildford.

It was only the second time in two seasons that Pontefract's two leading stars James Willstrop and Lee Beachill turned out together in the club's PSL line-up - and tonight's presence led to the squad's second win of the season. Indeed, with Neil Cordell cancelling out Kirsty McPhee's earlier loss, and Leeds University-based Indian champion Saurav Ghosal giving the home side a 2/1 lead, it was Beachill who clinched overall victory for Pontefract with a convincing 9-5, 9-6, 9-6 win over Nottingham's Irish international John Rooney.

"It was an encouraging comeback for Lee, in his first competitive match since having a hernia operation at the beginning of the month," said team manger and leading coach Malcolm Willstrop. "He was hitting the ball beautifully and looks to be in fine shape."

In an entertaining climax to the evening, Willstrop junior battled with fellow Yorkshireman Simon Parke, the now retired former world No3 who has been a Nottingham stalwart for numerous years. "Simon ran his heart out for the visitors and gave a great show - even though there was never any real doubt about the final result," added Willstrop senior after his son's 7-9, 9-6, 10-8, 9-6 victory.

The Duffield roadshow continues - but the Derbyshire club was taken the full distance at Redditch before maintaining their unbeaten PSL record since April 2006. Fire-fighter Laura Hill set the tone for the visitors, before new Duffield regular Nick Taylor stemmed a fight-back by Adam Stevenson to beat the Redditch number four 9-6, 9-7, 10-12, 5-9, 9-5.

However, David Barnett and ex-Duffield star Jonathan Kemp levelled the tie for Redditch before Stewart Boswell despatched Frenchman Renan Lavigne 9-5, 9-5, 9-2 to seal Duffield's 3/2 success.

Esporta Oxford had a disappointing start in their home battle against University Sport Birmingham when Irish star Kerri Shields lost to the west midlands side's Emma Chorley in straight games. But two five-game encounters were the highlights of the evening which saw the visitors earn a 4/1win.

In a match described by team manager Jason Martin as "most entertaining", stalwart Kristen Johnson recorded his fourth successive PSL win for Oxford - and his first win in three league clashes with Joel Hinds since October 2006 - when he beat the University squad No4 9-4, 1-9, 7-9, 11-9, 9-4. But, despite having 12 match-balls in a later match against Jonathan Harford, it wasn't to be Chris Ryder's night as the Oxford second string went down 6-9, 9-1, 9-7, 5-9, 8-10 to Harford in the penultimate match of the tie!

PNH Properties Chichester consolidated their position in second place in the Group B tables with their 4/1 home win against southern rivals UniSport Guildford. But the Surrey club made a great start when England international Alison Waters - showing no signs of the effects of rushing back across the Atlantic after a surprise appearance in Sunday's final of the Greenwich Open in New York - beat Chichester newcomer Susannah King 9-2 9-2 10-8.

An upset looked on the cards when two 37-year-old veterans of the sport locked horns in the second string match. However, Alex Gough, the Welshman still ranked 20 in the world, was eventually too strong for Guilford's Stephen Meads, beating the former world No11 9-6, 6-9, 9-5, 3-9, 9-5 to ensure the Sussex side's win.

A full house in Bristol were entertained by Group B leading visitors PCL Whitehall Security Surrey H&RC - and the match between the hosts' 36-year-old former world No2 Peter Marshall, and the Croydon club's Adrian Waller, exactly half his age, perhaps proved to be the decisive one: The experienced Marshall led after the first game, then recovered from 1/2 down to ensure a fifth game. But at 4-2 up in the decider, the double-hander from Nottingham sustained a calf cramp - and teenager Waller wrapped up an easy victory 8-10, 9-6, 9-7, 6-9, 9-4 in 57 minutes.

6th round results, Tuesday 29 January 2008

Group A:
Pontefract 4 Nottingham 1
James Willstrop bt Simon Parke 7-9, 9-6, 10-8, 9-6
Lee Beachill bt John Rooney 9-5, 9-6, 9-6
Saurav Ghosal bt Jethro Binns 9-3, 9-6, 9-7
Neil Cordell bt Arthur Gaskin 10-8, 9-2, 7-9, 6-2 ret.
Kirsty McPhee lost to Sarah Kippax 8-10, 5-9, 6-9
Energie Fitness Redditch 2 Benz-Bavarian Duffield 3
Renan Lavigne lost to Stewart Boswell 5-9, 5-9, 2-9 (33m)
Jonathan Kemp bt Andrew Whipp 9-5, 11-9, 9-3 (21m)
David Barnett bt Alex Stait 6-9, 9-7, 7-9, 9-6, 12-10 (46m)
Adam Stevenson lost to Nick Taylor 6-9, 7-9, 12-10, 9-5, 5-9 (41m)
Wendy Maitland lost to Laura Hill 3-9, 9-6, 2-9, 2-9 (24m)
Esporta Oxford 1 University Sport Birmingham 4
Scott Handley lost to Joey Barrington 9-7, 6-9, 5-9, 3-9
Chris Ryder lost to Jonathan Harford 6-9, 9-1, 9-7, 5-9, 8-10
Dylan Bennett lost to Stephen Coppinger 5-9, 6-9, 9-7, 2-9
Kristen Johnson bt Joel Hinds 9-4, 1-9, 7-9, 11-9, 9-4
Kerri Shields lost to Emma Chorley 8-10, 5-9, 5-9
Group B:
PNH Properties Chichester 4 UniSport Guildford 1
Mohd Azlan Iskandar bt Stacey Ross 9-6, 6-9, 9-5, 9-6
Alex Gough bt Stephen Meads 9-6, 6-9, 9-5, 3-9, 9-5
Tim Vail bt Jesse Engelbrecht 9-6, 9-1, 9-5
Peter Genever bt Alex Ingham 10-8, 9-1, 9-5
Susannah King lost to Alison Waters 2-9, 2-9, 8-10
Probuild Bristol 2 PCL Whitehall Security Surrey H&RC 3
Adrian Grant bt Wael El Hindi 9-11, 9-4, 9-4, 6-9, 9-2 (76m)
David Evans lost to Peter Barker 5-9, 2-9, 6-9 (27m)
Hadrian Stiff lost to Davide Bianchetti 9-4, 3-9, 10-12, 7-9 (72m)
Peter Marshall lost to Adrian Waller 10-8, 6-9, 7-9, 9-6, 4-9 (57m)
Sarah-Jane Perry bt Lauren Selby 7-9, 9-2, 10-8, 9-7 (24m)