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19 Jul 2024

Chichester & Birmingham Clinch PSL Play-Off Places

4 Mar 2008

With the final round still to be played, University Sport Birmingham and PNH Properties Chichester clinched their places in the end-of-season Premier League (PSL) play-offs after comfortable 4/1 home wins in Tuesday's ninth round of the prestigious England Squash league sponsored by Towergate tlc.

The west midlands side took on Benz-Bavarian Duffield, the defending champions unbeaten for the last 23 ties. But the Derbyshire club's impressive record run finally came to an end as the University of Birmingham squad secured the win which takes them into the play-offs for the second successive season - alongside Duffield, who cannot be displaced from top position in the Group A table.

As in Group A, the Group B table-toppers PCL Whitehall Security Surrey H&RC were also already assured of a play-off place - but Chichester's win over Probuild Bristol guarantees the Sussex club a return to the play-offs after missing out last season to the west country side - who went on to contest the final.

Elsewhere in Group A, Esporta Oxford moved up to third place following a 4/1 home win against former champions Nottingham, while Yorkshire club Pontefract claimed their third win of the season by beating Energie Fitness Redditch 3/2 at home. The other tie in Group B saw UniSport Guildford narrowly lose out on finishing their 2007/08 campaign with their second win of the season as Luxfords St George's Hill clinched the tie 3/2 after the top string decider went the full distance.

It was a considerably under-strength Duffield squad that arrived in Birmingham, wary of the fact that its unbeaten run was in jeopardy. But stalwart Laura Hill put the visitors firmly in the driving seat with a commanding 9-2, 9-2, 9-2 win over the University team's Emma Chorley.

It was one-way traffic, however, for the hosts thereafter as Joel Hinds and Jonathan Harford scored notable wins - before Mohamed El Shorbagy, a 17-year-old Egyptian studying at Millfield School, fought back from 2/1 down against Duffield veteran Nick Taylor to beat the reigning British O35 Open champion 9-4, 3-9, 6-9, 9-2, 9-5 and clinch victory for the University side. In the top string clash, former Birmingham student Joey Barrington made it 4/1 when he beat Andrew Whipp 9-2, 10-12, 9-3, 9-7 in 47 minutes.

Probuild Bristol needed nothing less than a win in Chichester to keep alive their chances of a second appearance in the play-offs - after making it last year in their maiden season in the league. But Dominique Lloyd-Walter and Olivier Pett put the Sussex side into the lead and club stalwart Peter Genever clinched the vital win by beating the visitors' Mike Gregory 9-3, 9-6, 10-8.

However, Bristol gained some consolation in the top string rubber, between Alex Gough and David Evans. But the eagerly-awaited match between the two leading players from Wales for the past decade failed to live up to expectations as Evans, the Bristol number one, took a two-game lead before Gough was forced to retire after three points of the third game suffering with an injury.

Lee Beachill led Pontefract to a 3/2 home win over Energie Fitness Redditch, but the tie was poised at two-all when the former world number one took to the court to face French star Renan Lavigne. But Beachill was too strong for the Redditch number one, winning 10-8, 9-6, 9-6, much to the delight of the packed Pontefract crowd.

Esporta Oxford's hopes of a whitewash win over visitors Nottingham were dashed in the opening match when club champion Rachel Donald fell 9-0, 9-1, 9-3 to an "awesome" performance by Nottingham's Emma Beddoes. But the hosts quickly recovered - first when local star Kristen Johnson battled bravely to an entertaining 11-9, 13-11, 6-9, 8-10, 10-8 win over Lewis Walters, and then after Chris Ryder despatched Nottingham's Jethro Binns in four games.

But overall victory came when Scott Handley secured a surprisingly straightforward 9-5, 9-4, 9-3 win over Nottingham's John Rooney - and Australian Cameron Pilley cemented the celebrations by beating Simon Parke 9-5, 9-5, 9-4.

The all-Surrey clash between Luxfords St George's Hill and UniSport Guildford began disappointingly for the Ingham family as siblings Alex and Harriet, openers for the visitors, went down in straight games to their St George's Hill opponents. But Guildford fought back to level the tie when Jesse Engelbrecht beat St George's Hill newcomer Philip Nightingale 9-3, 9-5, 9-3, and veteran campaigner Stephen Meads held off a challenge from Tom Richards to beat the rising Surrey star 9-6, 9-7, 10-12, 4-9, 9-4.

The dramatic decider went to five games when the home side's Hungarian number one Mark Krajcsak beat long-time Guildford No1 Stacey Ross 9-11, 9-3, 5-9, 9-5, 9-3.

9th round results: Tuesday 4 March 2008

Group A:
Esporta Oxford 4 Nottingham 1
Cameron Pilley bt Simon Parke 9-5, 9-5, 9-4
Scott Handley bt John Rooney 9-5, 9-4, 9-3
Chris Ryder bt Jethro Binns 10-8, 9-5, 7-9, 9-2
Kristen Johnson bt Lewis Walters 11-9, 13-11, 6-9, 8-10, 10-8
Rachel Donald lost to Emma Beddoes 0-9, 1-9, 3-9

Pontefract 3 Energie Fitness Redditch 2
Lee Beachill bt Renan Lavigne 10-8, 9-6, 9-6
Saurav Ghosal bt David Barnett 9-2, 9-4, 9-4
Neil Cordell lost to Jaymie Haycocks 9-11, 9-4, 4-9, 3-9
Ryan Thompson bt Adam Stevenson 9-4, 9-6, 9-2
Lauren Siddall lost to Jaclyn Hawkes 9-6, 7-9, 2-9, 7-9

University Sport Birmingham 4 Benz-Bavarian Duffield 1
Joey Barrington bt Andrew Whipp 9-2, 10-12, 9-3, 9-7 (47m)
Mohamed El Shorbagy bt Nick Taylor 9-4, 3-9, 6-9, 9-2, 9-5 (39m)
Jonathan Harford bt Peter Billson 9-3, 7-9, 9-3, 9-6 (29m)
Joel Hinds bt Shaun le Roux 9-3, 9-6, 9-3 (24m)
Emma Chorley lost to Laura Hill 2-9, 2-9, 2-9 (18m)

Group B:
Luxfords St George's Hill 3 UniSport Guildford 2
Mark Krajcsak bt Stacey Ross 9-11, 9-3, 5-9, 9-5, 9-3
Tom Richards lost to Stephen Meads 6-9, 7-9, 12-10, 9-4, 4-9
Philip Nightingale lost to Jesse Engelbrecht 3-9, 5-9, 3-9
Phillip Barker bt Alex Ingham 11-9, 9-3, 9-6
Rachel Willmott bt Harriet Ingham 11-9, 9-4, 9-2

PNH Properties Chichester 4 Probuild Bristol 1
Alex Gough lost to David Evans 4-9, 3-9, 0-3 ret.
Tim Vail bt Hadrian Stiff 9-4, 9-3, 9-6
Peter Genever bt Mike Gregory 9-3, 9-6, 10-8
Olivier Pett bt Michael Harris 9-4, 9-6, 1-9, 6-9, 9-6
Dominique Lloyd-Walter bt Sarah-Jane Perry 9-6, 9-5, 9-6