The North West Counties League pauses for a breather this week, while the British National Squash Championships are in progress at Manchester – but there was a full programme of matches last Thursday for all but one of the men’s teams from our local clubs.

In Division Two East, Prestbury’s First Team signed off for the mini-break by returning to winning ways with an emphatic 5-0 victory at home to bottom-placed Alderley Edge 3. The hosts, who remain sixth, were without their injured captain Nathan Mayers, but straight-games successes for Paul and Mike Lomas, together with 3-1 wins by Rob Alcock, Brian Lomas and Chris Dunkerley, saw them comfortably past the line.

While Prestbury’s ‘Firsts’ reversed a sequence after losing their two previous matches, their counterparts at Bollington did so the other way around following a pair of victories. Eighth-placed Bollington 1 hosted divisional form-horses Congleton, but, despite wins for Brig Simpson and Rick Walters, were pipped by the odd match in five.

In Division Three South-East, Macclesfield Squash 1 were without a fixture and remain very firmly in the basement position, over 50 points away from safety. Prestbury 2, meanwhile, travelled ‘over the Edge’ and came away with the spoils after Mike Brauckmann, Stuart Melia and captain Mike Quartley all won to secure a 3-2 victory against Alderley 4. The ‘Seconds’ , who have now triumphed in five of their last six matches, leapfrogged their hosts in the table for good measure, although results elsewhere keep them in seventh place.

The race to go up from Division Four South continues to be tight, but Bollington 2’s involvement was boosted by a routine 5-0 victory at struggling Alderley 6. They stay second, and are four points ahead of their nearest rivals, after Stuart Arnold, Olli Stewart, Aldo Palazzo, Mark Collins and Tom Binder ensured the collective rout.

The cause of the ‘Bolly Seconds’ was also aided by Prestbury 3, who denied their hosts, and promotion chasers, Club AZ, a maximum-points haul. Wins by Nick Barker and Paul Maher were, however, not quite enough to prevent a second successive 3-2 reverse for the ‘Thirds’ who remain 12th and in the eye of the relegation drop-zone.

Similarly, the Division Five South title-battle becomes more fascinating by the week. Leaders Prestbury 4 claimed the internal bragging rights at Bollin Grove with a 4-1 win against their Fifth Team club-mates – with Paul Wilson, Dave Jones, captain Gareth Evans and 18-year-old Matt English claiming matches for the ‘Fourths’ and Rupert Richards stealing a consolation victory for sixth-placed Prestbury 5.

But Prestbury 4’s lead is now down to four points, after Bollington 3 hosted and demolished Prestbury’s Sixth Team 5-0. Andy Phillips, Gareth Ainsworth, captain Martin Ogden and junior players James Walton (15) and Ben Gayne (17) all recorded straight-games wins to ensure their side’s seventh victory in a row.

While the ‘Bolly Thirds’ last lost on 17 November, Macclesfield Squash 2 had hitherto needed to go back to the same date to recall the taste of victory. But Macc’s barren streak was finally brought to an end in fine style, courtesy of a 5-0 thumping of visitors Grove Park 8. Wins for Daz Glazer, Ollie Critchley, David Birtwistle, Annika Hall and a walkover at fifth string gave the hosts maximum points, as well as moving them up a place to seventh.

Three days earlier, in the Cheshire Ladies League, both Bollington and Prestbury suffered narrow 3-2 defeats following two consecutive wins apiece. Second Division Prestbury stay sixth, after straight-games victories by Fran James and Linda Maher could not quite see their team home at third-placed Barnton 2. And fourth-placed Bollington were edged out by visitors and table-toppers City of Manchester 2, in spite of their guests having made the trip down into Cheshire one player short.

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