Saints get lift from new pair

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The new Sunderland and District League season is underway with hopes running high.

St Gabriel’s A are back in Division One, having sat out of last year’s campaign. The Saints are looking to mount a strong challenge after signing former England international Tony Gelder and Northumberland County player Jim Stamas.

Newly-promoted North East Bed Centre – last season’s Division Two champions – are also looking to give a good account of themselves.

St Chad’s, who narrowly missed out on the runners-up spot to Durham CA A last term, are aiming to go at least one step further this season and overtake their closest rivals, and hoping to give Thompson Insurance A a run for their money and end their dominance of the top division.

Thompson, winners for the past eight seasons, have strengthened by bringing in former Silksworth player Anthony Barella, who joins an already strong squad containing British League and County players Andrew Wilkinson, Darren McVitie, Chris Blake, Marc Cotton, Diane Cartmell and player-manager Allan Thompson.

Thompson have hit the ground running, winning their first three matches including a hard-earned 8–2 victory over Durham CA A.

In Division Two, Sacriston Bombers look like to be the team to beat, but they will be strongly challenged by West CA A, Silksworth IM and Redby CA A.

St Gabriel’s B, by their own standards, had a poor season last year and will be looking for a big improvement in this campaign, as will Durham CA B.

The two promoted sides, last season’s Division Three champions Redby CA B and runners-up St Gabriel’s C, are more than capable of mounting a challenge.

In Division Three, the promotion challenge will most likely come from St John’s B and West CA B.

St John’s A, relegated from Division Two, will be hoping to bounce straight back and have the experience to at least have a strong say in the promotion challenge.

East Boldon Methodists are newcomers to the division.

Sacriston Chargers and Desperadoes will be looking to build on last season’s experience and push the mid-table sides all the way.

Youthful Lanchester CC, who finished bottom last season, were showing signs of improving as the league’s fixtures drew to a close and hope to continue where they left off.

H The league’s website will go live this weekend, so any players who have not completed their registration forms should do so before tomorrow. See www.tabletennis365.com/Sunderland for more information.

H The league has introduced a new scoring system, bringing it into line with those used by many leagues across the country. Four points will be awarded for an 10-0, 9-1 or 8-2 win, while three points go to the winner if the score is 7-3 or 6-4 and one point to the loser. Both teams get two points froma 5-5 draw.

Results, Division One: Durham CA A 2 Thompson Ins. 8, Durham CA A 7 Sacriston Aces 3, Mortimer CA 9 Sacriston Aces 1, NEBC 3 St Gabriel’s A 7, Sacriston Aces 2 NEBC 8, St Chad’s 7 NEBC 3, St Chad’s 9 Mortimer CA 1, St Gabriel’s A 2 Durham CA A 8, Thompson Ins. A 10 Thompson Ins. B 0, Thompson Ins. A10 St Gabriel’s A 0, Thompson Ins. B 3 St Chad’s 7.

Division Two: Durham CA B 7 Sacriston Bombers 3, Redby CA A 8 St Gabriel’s B 2, Redby CA B 5 Redby CA A 5, St Gabriel’s B 0 St Gabriel’s C 10, St Gabriel’s C 6 Durham CA B 4, Silksworth IM 6 Redby CA B 4, West CA A 7 Silksworth IM 3.

Division Three: East Boldon Meths 5 St John’s A 5, Sacriston Desperadoes 4 Sacriston Chargers 6, Sacriston Desperadoes 1 East Boldon Meths 9, St John’s A 10 St John’s C 0, West CA B 7 Sacriston Chargers 3.