Here’s the weekly round-up of north-west Squash action by Gareth Evans – Squash Column for Macclesfield Express
The penultimate full weekly schedule of the North West Counties League’s winter fixtures took place last Thursday – although those men’s teams from our local clubs striving to achieve promotion or stay up must continue the waiting game before discovering their ultimate fate.
Bollington 1, having lost six of their last seven matches, are a case in point. And the Division Two East side’s fight against relegation will now go to the wire following defeat by the odd match in five at fifth-placed Prestbury 1.
The hosts edged over the line at Bollin Grove thanks to wins by Rob Alcock and cousins Mike and Paul Lomas, while 3-2 consolations for Bollington’s Christian Ogden and Rick Walters could yet prove vital after helping to keep their team in ninth place and seven points above the drop-zone.
In Division Three South-East, Prestbury 2, in seventh, ventured south into Derbyshire and, like their First Team club-mates, triumphed 3-2. Victories for Stuart Melia, Mike Quartley and Rob Thorneycroft saw off their relegation-threatened hosts, Buxton 1 – for whom former Prestbury Second-Teamer Keith Tolley also won.
The campaign involving teams in Division Four South still has a fortnight to run – which could entail an even further wait, at opposite ends of the table, so far as the destinies of Bollington 2 and Prestbury 3 are concerned.
The ‘Bolly Seconds’ did exactly what they needed to do, by hosting, and taking maximum points from, mid-table Alderley Edge 5. Olli Stewart, Mark Collins, Malcolm Kendrick, Aldo Palazzo and Andy Phillips ensured a collective 5-0 rout, and an eighth successive win, that moved their side up a position to third, as well as within 16 points of the promotion places.
The survival cause of Prestbury’s Third Team also looks ever more hopeful, following a 4-1 win at Alsager 2. Victories on the night for Nick Barker, Graeme English and Paul Maher were supplemented by a walkover at fifth string, to see the in-form ‘Thirds’ – who have achieved half of their successes for the entire season since mid-February – leapfrog their hosts into eighth place.
It is now certain that Division Five South’s first and second places will be filled by local teams – although with only one promotion-slot guaranteed, finishing first in this section is especially all-important.
And leaders Bollington 3 are very much in the driving seat, following a 5-0 demolition of hosts New Mills 2. The Third Team’s victory was their 12th in a row, and achieved primarily through the triumph of youth – with junior players Ben Gayne (17), James Walton (15) and George Lomas (12), as well as 19-year-old Martin Ogden, all winning, together with Gareth Ainsworth.
Bollington sit 14 points above Prestbury 4, who did at least ensure a top-two finish by edging out their hosts for the night, and Bollin Grove tenants, Radbroke Hall 2. Wins for juniors Jonny Murray (15) and Matt English (18), as well as for Dave Jones, ensured a 3-2 victory that saw the ‘Fourths’ move above their opponents, who had begun the evening in second place.
Prestbury 5 did not have a fixture, but remain in fifth – one place above Macclesfield Squash 2, who moved up one position in spite of a 4-1 defeat at home to fourth-placed Buxton 2. Jon Stoker picked up the consolation victory for Macc.
And Prestbury’s Sixth Team ensured a clean sweep of wins for the club’s teams in action on the night, after travelling up the A34 to thump basement side Grove Park 8 5-0. Ben Parker, Dave Marwood, Pat Hunter, 16-year-old Keon Raked and Chris Murray were all successful, and their side’s second win running lifted them a place to eighth.