With the end of the winter season around a month away, last Thursday’s North West Counties League matches included a number of critical ’40-pointer’ contests for men’s teams in and around our town.

The fixtures were also the third successive set to feature no local winners in Divisions Two East and Three South-East. And one of the Second Division sides, relegation-threatened Bollington 1, were unfortunately on the wrong end of one of those ’40-pointers’, too.

The ninth-placed ‘Bolly Firsts’ travelled up to West Heaton 1, sitting two positions below, and, despite wins by Brig Simpson and Rick Walters, were edged out by the odd game in five for their fourth defeat in a row. They remain ninth, but no longer have a points advantage separating them from the drop-zone.

Divisional companions Prestbury 1, in sixth, were also on the road – taking on high-flying Bowdon 2, but facing a task that was made all the more difficult by the late withdrawal of Paul Lomas due to illness. Cousin Brian recovered in fine style from two games down to win, although his victory proved but a mere consolation as the team were beaten 4-1.

Both Third Division sides were at home, but each suffered a 5-0 defeat against higher-positioned opponents. Eighth-placed Prestbury 2’s five pairings all ended in straight-games triumphs for Grove Park 3, while basement side Macclesfield Squash 1 are still without a victory all season after succumbing to Alsager’s First Team.

The Alsager ‘Seconds’ were also in these parts, but suffered a precise reverse of the result enjoyed by their club-mates – going down 5-0 at in-form Bollington 2. Stuart Arnold, Olli Stewart, Mark Collins, Malcolm Kendrick and Aldo Palazzo ensured the collective rout.

Bollington continue to hold second place in Division Four South – but, following a series of League decisions (still subject to appeal) that have led to the redistribution among several clubs of points based on player eligibility, now sit behind new leaders Radbroke Hall 1.

At the other end of the divisional table, Prestbury 3’s position has, for now, improved as a result of the points redistribution – and was enhanced further following a vital home win in a ’40-pointer’ against Alderley Edge 6. Straight-games victories by Graeme English and Nick Barker, combined with triumphs over five games for Paul Maher and David Fitzpatrick, saw the ‘Thirds’ not only prevail 4-1 but also leapfrog their visitors out of the relegation positions and up into 10th place.

The third ’40-pointer‘ of the night, in Division Five South, was a local derby for added spice, as third-placed Bollington 3 hosted leaders Prestbury 4. The squash more than lived up to the billing – with three matches featuring comebacks from two-game deficits. Prestbury’s Gareth Evans achieved one of them, but the ‘Bolly Thirds’, through Tom Binder and 15-year-old James Walton, won the other two. And straight-games victories for Andy Phillips and Martin Ogden wrapped up an enthralling contest 4-1 in the hosts‘ favour.

Both teams‘ positions remain unchanged – although the Fourth Team’s advantage over Radbroke Hall 2, in second, is now down to two points, following Radbroke’s 4-1 win at ninth-placed Prestbury 6, for whom Ben Parker alone was triumphant.
The ‘Sixths’ had enjoyed better fortune at home to higher-placed rivals three days earlier, when Ben Parker, Dave Marwood and new captain Chris Murray, together with junior players Jonny Murray (15) and Keon Raked (16), saw off Buxton’s Second Team 5-0 in a rescheduled fixture from mid-February.

Elsewhere in the Fifth Division, seventh-placed Macclesfield Squash 2 won for the third time in four matches – as Daz Glazer, Ollie Critchley, David Birtwistle and two walkovers secured a 5-0 win at three-man Disley 2. And Prestbury 5 remain fifth, despite losing 3-2 at Bollin Grove to New Mills 2. Teenagers Matt English (18) and Greg Stanger (17) both won for the ‘Fifths’ against a strong visiting side.

In the Cheshire Ladies League a week ago on Monday, both Bollington and Prestbury played their penultimate matches of the campaign – with mixed fortunes.

Second Division Prestbury remain fourth, in spite of losing 3-2 at home to Brooklands in a mid-table encounter – with Sarah Lonsdale and Judy Scorer registering victories for the hosts.

And in Division Three, Bollington nudge up a place to third – as well as only three points away from second place – after thumping their visitors Village Hyde 5-0. Annika Hall, Louise Goodhind, June White, Jennifer Robinson and a walkover-victory were together responsible for ensuring a third consecutive win as the team’s impressive final run-in continued.

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