St Chad’s outgunned Second Division outfit Sacriston St Bede’s to storm into the Sunderland and District League’s Team Handicap Cup semi-finals.
Sacriston, represented by Chris Grant, Nigel Coe and Dan Nicholson, were awarded between four and 10 points as a handicap to their opponents, in an attempt to cancel any advantage the Division One side would have over their challengers.
Despite this handicap, St Chad’s ran out comfortable 9-0 winners with excellent performances from Jimmy Scope, Dave Bissett and Barry Cuthbertson, who all came through the evening unscathed.
The Saints will now go on to play Division One leaders Thompson Insurance A, who secured a 5-2 win over rivals Durham CA A.
Player-manager Allan Thompson gave Thompsons the perfect start when he beat Gavin Bestford (+6) 21-19 and 21-16.
Andrew Wilkinson doubled their lead despite awarding his opponent Stuart Anderson 12 points.
Wilkinson played some powerful attacking play and ran out 21-15 and 21-18 winner.
Colin Hunt gave Durham some hope when he defeated Diane Cartmell after overcoming a handicap of 12 points, eventually winning 21-17 and 21-19.
Wilkinson increased the lead with a narrow 2-0 victory over Bestford, before Hunt pulled one back to make the match score 3-2, in Thompsons favour.
With the winners being the first team to five sets, Durham still had everything to play for, but their hope was shortlived.
Cartmell disposed of Anderson, and Wilkinson finished the night undefeated when he beat Colin Hunt (+7) 21-13 and 21-18, to set up another mouth-watering tie against St Chad’s.
With teams from Divisions Two and Three yet to play against each other in the other two quarter-finals, and the winners of these matches drawn to play each other in the other semi-final, the final of the Team Handicap Cup is now guaranteed to have representation from Division One and either Division Two or Three.
In the league, North East Bed Centre are all but guaranteed promotion from Division Two despite being out of action this week.
Rivals West CA A beat St Gabriel’s B 7-3, but dropped two valuable points against Durham CA B.
This means that NEBC’s current points total of 58 points can only now be bettered by Sacriston St Bede’s B.
With two teams being promoted to Division One, NEBC can now start planning for life in the top flight next season.
In the other match to be played in Division Two, Redby CA A were 8-2 winners against St John A.
The score suggests this was a comfortable match.
But this was far from the truth, with only one of the 10 sets being decided in three games.
Frank Booth (3), Malcolm Deneven (2) and Ken Tweedy (2) did the damage for Redby, with the former combining to take the doubles set 11-3 in the fifth and deciding end of a cracking clash.
Craig Hilton recorded the two sets for Saints, with team-mates Istvan Soos and Craig Burton extremely unlucky not to pick up a set despite playing well throughout.
Redby now move up to fifth in the table and, more importantly, have opened up a four-point gap on the relegation spot.
There was only one game played in Division Three and what a close affair it turned out to be, when leaders St Gabriel’s C took on Redby CA B.
The match finished in a 5-5 draw.
Despite the importance of the match, there was some excellent table tennis played.
Joe Muldowney was man of the match after winning all of his three singles sets for Redby and combined with Howard Forster to win the doubles set.
With Alan Girdwood edging an epic game 11-9 in the fifth against Alan Ray, Redby earned a well-earned draw.
Sid Gooding was pick of the bunch for the Saints, winning two of his three singles, narrowly losing out to Muldowney 3-1.
With Murden picking up two sets and Alan Ray one, it kept their promotion hopes alive with a very valuable draw.
H The Sunderland and District Closed Tournament took place at the weekend with some excellent and very entertaining table tennis played throughout.
Watch out next week for a full report on the tournament.
Log on to: www.tabletennis365.com/Sunderland for more information.