THE semi-finals of the Danby Auto Sunderland Snooker League were played this week with Hylton and Mill View B advancing to the final.
Played at Steels, the match between Steels and Hylton had prospects, as they were both teams from the First Division of the Winter League, and included a fair number of scratch players.
Chris Cowie, off a five handicap, had Graham Ablett as his adversary playing off scratch.
It was Ablett who started the better, and two breaks of 16 put him in control in the early part of the match.
Cowie was always chasing, and after reducing the lead with breaks of 15 and 19, he was frustrated as Ablett kept on scoring and holding an advantage.
By taking the colours from green to pink, Ablett claimed the frames 71-34 to put Hylton one frame ahead in the match.
In the second frame, much-improved Jim Gales took full advantage of his 25 handicap start, to stretch Bob Boyce off scratch for most of the frame and the outcome was always in doubt.
In a tit-for-tat period, Gales was fighting hard and going into the colours.
He was still holding a three point advantage, but Boyce showed why he is a scratch player with an impressive brown and pink clearance to win 63-49 and move Hylton nearer to a final place.
Needing to win the third frame to bring Steels back into the match was a challenge for Neil McLaren and he looked up to the task in the early part of the frame and was controlled in taking a slight lead.
Mark Fox was not fazed and produced some good shots, especially long straight balls all over the table top to pull back and take a lead with only four reds left on the table.
A missed red into a middle pocket by McLaren saw Fox take three reds and colours to build a nice but not decisive lead.
McLaren was now in a tight spot needing points, and a good red gave him hope although he was unlucky as his white finished on the cushion when positioning on the black.
It was all or nothing now and a superb pot on the difficult black still left him 27 behind with only the colours on the table.
Fox was not to be denied and he took Hylton into the final on the colours.
The fact that two Second Division teams in Biddick B and Mill View B, have progressed to the semi-final, suggests that the handicap has had the desired and fair effect.
Adrian Daniels, off 10, met John Temple in the first frame, and it was Daniels who struck the first blow with a 19 break to clear the deficit.
Temple was not settled and Daniels was able to move further ahead without much reply.
A miscue and a foul by Daniels gave Temple hope, although Daniels was still 40 ahead.
A good snooker by Temple, that was missed leaving a free ball, reduced the lead but Daniels was still in a good position.
Temple was now needing snookers and made a vain attempt to get back into the game, before Daniels closed it down 80-42 to put Mill View ahead.
Lee Dixon faced a difficult opponent in Trevor Walton, who displayed confidence on the table and good potting ability.
Dixon appeared nervous and was not showing his usual form, enabled Walton to dominate and move steadily ahead.
A fluke on a red by Dixon saw the pink disappear, followed by a poor shot on the yellow.
Walton was in control with a 61-25 lead, and although Dixon came back to be only 28 behind with 22 on the table, it was Walton’s night and a 71-42 score made the game level.
A good game was expected between John Spruce and Peter Mills and both players started off in style.
The first decisive beak of 28 by Spruce took him into a 53-19 lead.
A break of 16 by Mills saw Spruce 19 ahead with one red left on the table that was taken by Mills to be only 14 behind.
Mills was still looking dangerous and it took a good pink by Spruce to settle the frame and put Mill View 2-1 ahead.
It was still open to both teams going into the pairs with Spruce carrying his singles form into the pairs, but not making the most of his chances.
Both teams were scoring with small counts, before Mills played a good long shot using the rest that created an 18 break.
It took a 12 break by Norman Brown to reduce Biddick’s lead to 43-27, leaving one red on the table.
Spruce suddenly came alive and produced great potting with a red and pink, followed by yellow and green to reduce Biddick’s score to 43-36.
Not to be outdone, Brown took the brown, blue and pink to put Mill View into the final.
A good entertaining game that was enjoyed by both sets of players and their followers.
The final between Hylton, of the First Division, and Mill View, of the Second Division, has been arranged for tonight and will be played at the Cheema’s Snooker Club, Spectators are welcomed by the club.