THOMPSON Insurance A’s title hopes were dented when they suffered their first defeat of the season against rivals St Chad’s in Division One of the Sunderland and District League.
Going into the match, the leaders knew that a draw against last season’s runners-up would be sufficient to guarantee their 10th consecutive Division One title.
However, a 6–4 success for St Chad’s has set up a nail-biting finish to the league campaign.
It was an absolutely fantastic effort by the Saints and no one typified this more than talented youngster Joshua Weatherby, fresh from his England call-up.
Weatherby defeated Marc Cotton and Chris Blake to earn him a well-deserved man-of-the-match award.
Joshua was joined by dad Keith Weatherby (2) and Steve Penman (2) to keep the Saints in with an outside chance of the title.
The score-line could have been worse had father/son duo managed to close out a 9-3 deciding end lead against Sunderland Open Doubles Champions Andrew Wilkinson and Cotton.
However, an inspired comeback helped the current doubles champions secure the set which, when added to Wilkinson’s undefeated singles performance, helped to make for a narrow 6-4 defeat.
Thompson’s still require three points from a possible eight from their remaining league fixtures against Sacriston Aces and Springwell CC, to retain their Division One crown.
Congratulations to Mortimer CA B, who are the Division Two champions.
The Mortimer side have performed brilliantly throughout the season, losing only one match and 32 out of a possible 160 sets in their march towards the title – achieving this with two league matches remaining.
The race for the second promotion spot couldn’t be any closer, with any one of four sides still in with a shout – with Sacriston Bombers and Durham CA best placed.
In Division Three, Brandon & Byshottles A’s 61 point total can now only be matched by third-placed Lanchester CC A.
Sacriston Chargers, currently second with only one match remaining, look likely to miss out on promotion despite a monumental effort this season which has helped to make for a fascinating chase for promotion.
If they do miss out they must surely start out as clear favourites for next season’s league campaign.
Sacriston Table Tennis Club has had an excellent season with five teams competing in the Sunderland and District League.
Aces, Bombers and Chargers have performed admirably throughout and have been there or thereabouts the top three league positions in their respective divisions.
They have all also successfully managed to secure a place in the semi-final draw of the Leagues Team Handicap Cup competition, Lanchester CC A securing the other.
The club are guaranteed a place in the final with Bombers and Aces drawn against each other in the first semi-final.
Desperadoes and Eagles continue to make progress as the players continue to gain valuable experience and will continue their development in the new campaign.
Sacriston Table Tennis Club has also performed well in the Singles Handicap Cup too.
Max Duffin (Chargers) has set up a quarter-final tie against club team-mate Jack Pugh (Eagles) following his defeat of Ian McAllister (Aces).
Duffin had a nine point start in this game and needed support from Coach Dan Hutchinson to combat the power and attacking flair of his opponent.
McAllister used his varied serves and third ball attack well in the first game and started to claw back the handicap but Duffin maintained his cool to take the first end 21-15.
The second game was a disaster for McAllister, with his opponent gaining some early breaks through a number of nets and edges which he never recovered.
The third game was much tighter with McAllister chipping away the nine-point handicap to take the game to deuce – eventually unleashing two devastating forehand drives to take the end 23-21.
Once again, the fourth end was a close affair with McAllister drawing level at 18-18, before Duffin secured the fourth 21-19 and the match to move into the last eight.
Meanwhile, Matt Greenwood (Desperadoes) is certainly taking advantage of his singles handicap, moving into the semi-final stage of the competition with a 3-1 win over Division One player Joe Muldowney (St Gabriel’s B).
With a start of 14 points, Greenwood could afford to take chances and attack at every opportunity whereas Muldowney had to play a more cautious game.
Greenwood played steadily to take the first game 21-14
However, the second game was a totally different affair with his opponent overcoming his handicap to take the end 22-20 to level the game.
The third and fourth went in the favour of Greenwood, with the Division Three player bringing in his attacking play to book his place in the semi-final by 3-1.
Team Handicap Semi-final draw: 1. Bombers v Aces (March 23). 2. Lanchester CC A v Chargers (March 24). Both games to be played at Silksworth IM Church, 7pm start.
Final to be played on Wednesday, April 1, at St Chad’s Church, 7pm start.