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19 Jul 2024

Chichester & Surrey H&RC Take Early Advantage In PSL Semi-Finals

8 Apr 2008

PNH Properties Chichester and PCL Whitehall Security Surrey H&RC took the early advantage after tonight's first leg semi-final ties in the Premier League (PSL) following away wins over Benz-Bavarian Duffield and University Sport Birmingham, respectively, in the established England Squash league sponsored by Towergate tlc.

Duffield, the reigning champions from Derbyshire hoping to become the first club in the 25-year history of the league to win a hat-trick of successive titles, suffered a catastrophic series of injury woes on the eve of the semi-finals week - with last week's news of three of its leading players being forced to withdraw being followed this week by the revelation that second string woman Laura Hill had sustained an injury in Canada which would prevent her from replacing England number Tania Bailey.

However, hastily recruited replacement Mille Tomlinson - a 15-year-old schoolgirl ranked two in the National U17 list - put in a courageous performance in her PSL debut against Chichester's Dominique Lloyd-Walter. The youngster led the world No21 from Harrow 7-4 in the opening game.

But Lloyd-Walter soon regained the advantage to record a 9-7, 9-2 9-1 win to put the visitors ahead.

Tomlinson's Duffield team-mates maintained the pressure on favourites Chichester - with Peter Billson, Nick Taylor and Alex Stait taking each of their more fancied opponents the full distance before succumbing in five games. Stait led world No22 Alex Gough by two games - and was given the first point of the third game when Welshman Gough received a conduct point against him as he walked off court after the second.

But this seemed to inspire the veteran 37-year-old who went on to win 6-9, 10-12, 9-4, 9-2, 9-3.

In the final top string battle between Duffield's Stockport-based Andrew Whipp, a former world No64, and the visitors' Mohd Azlan Iskandar, currently ranked 13 in the world, the loyal Duffield followers hoped for a surprise consolation match when underdog Whipp was two points away from forcing a fifth game.

But Malaysian star Iskandar maintained his focus to win 9-3, 9-5, 8-10, 9-7 to give the Sussex side a much-deserved 5/0 tie win.

"I couldn't have expected more from my players," said a dejected Duffield team manager Brian Hargrave afterwards. "We gave them a good run for their money and will try and repeat this in the second leg on Thursday at Chichester. We've got a mountain to climb, but if we do have to bow out of the competition, I couldn't think of a better team to succeed us as champions than Chichester!"

With three members of its squad in the world top ten, Croydon's PCL Whitehall Security Surrey H&RC were expected to take the honours against University Sport Birmingham at the Edgbaston Priory Club in Birmingham.

But after Laura Lengthorn-Massaro beat higher-ranked Lancashire and England team-mate Vicky Botwright 9-6, 9-7, 9-5 - the 24-year-old from Preston's third successive win over world No8 Botwright - and home hero Joel Hinds (ranked 256 in the world) scored a sensational 9-3, 9-7, 9-7 victory over Italy's world No31 Davide Bianchetti, the University team found themselves 2/1 ahead.

But an impressive 9-4, 9-2, 9-4 win by the visitors England international Peter Barker over Jonathan Harford levelled the tie. In the decider, the Surrey team's Egyptian international Wael El Hindi was too strong for Birmingham's Joey Barrington - whose 'dead leg' injury picked up at the Surrey Health Open last week at the Croydon club prevented him from completing the third game of the match.

"We had a really good turn out at Edgbaston Priory and, given the strength of our opposition, our team put in a great performance - especially Joel Hinds who played the best I've ever seen him," said University of Birmingham team manager Jonathan Tate.

RESULTS: Semi-finals, 1st leg:

Benz-Bavarian Duffield 0 PNH Properties Chichester 5
Andrew Whipp lost to Mohd Azlan Iskandar 3-9, 5-9, 10-8, 7-9
Alex Stait lost to Alex Gough 9-6, 12-10, 4-9, 2-9, 3-9
Nick Taylor lost to Tim Vail 9-5, 6-9, 2-9, 9-2, 6-9
Peter Billson lost to Peter Genever 9-6, 9-5, 6-9, 2-9, 5-9
Millie Tomlinson lost to Dominique Lloyd-Walter 7-9, 2-9, 1-9

University Sport Birmingham 2 PCL Whitehall Security Surrey H&RC 3
Joey Barrington lost to Wael El Hindi 4-9, 5-9, 0-1 ret.
Jonathan Harford lost to Peter Barker 4-9, 2-9, 4-9
Joel Hinds bt Davide Bianchetti 9-3, 9-7, 9-7
Alistair Mutch lost to Adrian Waller 6-9, 6-9, 10-8, 3-9
Laura Lengthorn-Massaro bt Vicky Botwright 9-6, 9-7, 9-5

Semi-finals, 2nd leg (Thursday 10 April):
PNH Properties Chichester v Benz-Bavarian Duffield
PCL Whitehall Security Surrey H&RC v University Sport Birmingham