The ‘stop-start’ month for the North West Counties League continued last Thursday with a programme of matches for some of the men’s teams from our local clubs, prior to another mini-break for half-term this week.

There were, as ever, mixed fortunes for the sides in action. But of the eight that played, half signed off ahead of the March resumption with resounding 5-0 victories.

Unfortunately, neither of the Division Two East teams could count themselves among the winners on this occasion. Bollington 1 travelled to Warrington, and dropped a position to ninth (while still some 14 points above the drop-zone), after succumbing 5-0 to the hosts’ young Second Team. And, in spite of a hard-fought win for Chris Dunkerley, Prestbury’s sixth-placed ‘Firsts’ fared only slightly better, as they went down 4-1 at in-form Congleton.

In Division Three South-East, Prestbury 2, who were without a fixture, remain seventh and safe – but Macclesfield Squash 1’s season of woe continues. The basement side’s prospects had looked to be improving in the course of three consecutive narrow 3-2 defeats, but a 5-0 thumping at home by Tollgate 1 leaves the Leisure Centre team without a win this season and 64 points adrift of survival.

So far, so gloomy. But there was good news a-plenty, with a couple of those 5-0 wins to report, in Division Four South – and at both ends of the table for good measure!

Bollington’s ‘Seconds’ not only cemented themselves a little more firmly in second place by hosting and thrashing Knutsford Sports 3 for a fourth victory running, but also closed the gap at the top on – as coincidence would have it – Knutsford’s Second Team to just two points. Rick Walters, Stuart Arnold, Mark Collins, Malcolm Kendrick and, on his Fourth Division debut, junior player James Walton (15) all won in straight games to ensure the collective rout.

The defeat of Knutsford’s struggling ‘Thirds’ aided Prestbury 3’s survival hopes, although these were also given a huge boost by the latter’s emphatic, straight-games home triumph over bottom-of-the-table Grove Park 6. Nick Barker, Paul Bartle, Rob Thorneycroft, Graeme English and Paul Maher picked up maximum points to give their team a much-needed first win of 2017, as well as moving them up to within 11 points of safety.

In Division Five South, second-placed Bollington 3 had no match. But leaders Prestbury 4 took full advantage of the opportunity to create some temporary daylight by travelling across to Disley 2 and winning 5-0. Paul Wilson, Dave Jones, Gareth Evans and 18-year-old Matt English all prevailed, while a walkover-victory for Paul Minshull completed the maximum points-haul.

Bollington’s ‘Thirds’ were leapfrogged by Radbroke Hall 2, who sit 14 points behind Prestbury 4 after beating Prestbury’s Fifth Team 4-1 at Bollin Grove. Rupert Richards secured a fine win, albeit only a consolation one, at first-string for the ‘Fifths’, who remain in sixth place despite a fourth consecutive loss.

Neither of the division’s remaining local teams actually took to the courts – although seventh-placed Macclesfield Squash 2 were awarded the points by default, when their designated hosts Alderley Edge 7 failed to raise a side.

It was a similar story for Prestbury 6, whose home match against Buxton 2 was unable to go ahead. Given, however, that the Derbyshire club had been badly hampered by player absences due to an early half-term, the teams have agreed to reschedule their fixture and will try again early next month.

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