Here’s the weekly round-up of north-west Squash action by Gareth Evans – Squash Column for Macclesfield Express

The final full weekly schedule of the North West Counties League’s winter fixtures took place last Thursday – and saw a pair of men’s teams from our local clubs ensure their safety from relegation, with another two finishing as, respectively, table-toppers and runners-up.

Bollington 1, having spent the campaign battling to survive in Division Two East, were among the sides celebrating, after beating third-placed visitors The Northern 3 by the odd match in five, courtesy of wins for Chris Ogden Senior, Brig Simpson and Lyndon Stonier. As it happened, results elsewhere on the night would have secured the safety of the ‘Bolly Firsts’ whatever their score, but the victory lifted them more comfortably to 17 points above the drop-zone – just to make sure!

Divisional companions Prestbury 1 won by the same 3-2 scoreline at resurgent Hyde 2, thanks to victories for Rob Alcock and cousins Mike and Paul Lomas. The ‘Firsts’, who finished a most-creditable fifth after ending the season with four straight wins, should feel well satisfied with their first campaign back in the second tier following last year’s promotion.

There was a local ‘derby’ to herald the end of proceedings in Division Three South-East – with seventh-placed Prestbury 2 hosting already-relegated Macclesfield Squash 1, who went into the fixture on the back of a 5-0 thumping at home to Crewe Vagrants 3. True to form, the Bollin Grove hosts won by the same margin, as Brian Lomas, Rick Bower, Stuart Melia, Mike Quartley and Andrew Worsley inflicted defeat on winless Macc – for whom 2016/17 has unquestionably been a season to forget.

The Fourth Division South still has a further round of matches to complete tomorrow – but Prestbury’s ‘Thirds’, having appeared doomed as recently as mid-February, can happily approach their final assignment in a much more relaxed frame of mind, after triumphing 5-0 at home to fellow strugglers Grove Park 5. Nick Barker, Paul Bartle, Rob Thorneycroft, Graeme English and Paul Maher ensured the collective rout, and a fourth victory in five matches that definitely keeps them up.

Bollington 2’s fate at the higher end of the table will, however, go to the wire. The third-placed side kept in the promotion hunt by winning 4-1 – with victories for Stuart Arnold, Ollie Stewart, Malcolm Kendrick and Aldo Palazzo – against their hosts, and the table-toppers, Knutsford Sports 2. But the current likelihood is that the ‘Bolly Seconds’ will need an emphatic victory, and something approximating a maximum points-haul, when they make the trip down to Crewe Vagrants 4 in 24 hours’ time.

There remain no such uncertainties for Bollington’s Third Team, which clinched the Fifth Division South title and promotion-slot by also winning 4-1 – in this instance at struggling Grove Park 8. Gareth Ainsworth, Martin Ogden, together with juniors Ben Gayne (17) and James Walton (15), steered the leaders safely home for their 13th consecutive victory – a winning run that extends back to late November.

The champions finished 13 points clear of Prestbury 4, who hosted, and secured maximum points against, near-neighbours Macclesfield Squash 2, following wins by Kevin Wynne, 15-year-old Jonny Murray, Dave Jones, Gareth Evans and Ben Parker. Just as their hosts ended the campaign with three victories, Macc’s season concluded with a trio of defeats that ultimately saw them drop two places to ninth.

Prestbury’s ‘Fifths’ travelled to Disley 2 to find the home side short of two players. They duly proceeded to supplement their pair of walkover-victories with wins for Paul Minshull, 18-year-old Matt English and Phil Colville – thereby cementing (what else but) a fifth-place finish.

And Prestbury 6 inched up one position to a highly-respectable eighth, despite losing 4-1 at home to a strong Alderley Edge 7 side. The hosts’ winner on the night, and clearly a great prospect at the club for next term, was new junior player Greg Ralley (15) – while 13-year-old team-mate Rhys Asquith-Evans also suggested good hope for the future by picking up his side’s other game-point at the expense of the visiting captain.

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