Free Church youngsters belie inexperience in Cadet League
Four teams from Lillington Free Church travelled to the Westfield club in Wellingborough on Sunday to compete on Day 1 of the National Cadet League, writes Phil John.
With only three of their 12 players in their final seasons as cadets it was a daunting challenge but the young teams were up to it.
The A team finished second in Division One after beating Bedford Modern A 6-0, Lillington B and WDHA (Wellingborough) 5-1 and St Neots A 4-2.
In their last match they faced unbeaten Corby Smash A, losing 4-2 with the match hinging on a 13-11 defeat for Tom Yarrow in the fifth against Alex Cochrane.
Eduardo Bolanos recorded an 80 per cent average, with Yarrow and Eleanor Fletcher, the only girl competing in the league, on 70 per cent.
Lillington B exceeded expectations with a third-placed finish in this division.
They lost 5-1 to Corby, Chris Ho taking the consolation against Ed Brown, and by the same score to their A side, Ho getting the better of Fletcher, though four of the matches went to five.
However, Bedford, WDHA and St Neots A were all dispatched 4-2 with number three Chris Ho returning an 80 per cent average and Nicholas Ho and Joe Shrimpton recording 30 per cent.
Lillington C were placed in Division Two at the last minute but justified the decision by finishing third.
They lost 6-0 to top side Knighton Park of Leicester and 4-2 to Corby Smash B but beat Westfield A and WDHA B 6-0 and Bedford B 5-1.
Number three Dan Stone won seven of his ten singles, with George Barnes and Owain Jones posting six victories apiece.
The most exciting finish came in Division 3B.
Lillington D and Corby Town A had both defeated Bedford C and WDHA C 9-0 and faced each other to determine top place.
Corby went 2-0 up but were clawed back after wins for Nathan Jackson and Jack Bradbury.
Further victories for Jackson and Jun Chung left the match poised at 4-4 and Chung then got home 11-9 in the fifth against Nathan Dixon to win promotion for this team of debutants.
Meanwhile, in the Leamington League, the top clash in Division One was at league headquarters where St George’s A pipped Colebridge A 6-4 to move into third place.
Laurence Sweeney won his three for the former boys’ club with reserve Damon Fenton and Mark Jackson adding singles.
A thrilling 11-9 in the fifth for Jackson and Sweeney in the doubles swung the match in their favour.
Paul Lenormand and Ben Willson secured braces for Colebridge who sit second.
Lillington Free Church A grabbed top spot after sweeping aside their D team 10-0, Jack Green, Dave Ramsey and Sam Weaving in inspired form.
Free Church D bounced back to secure their first win of the campaign with a 6-4 success at home to Wellesbourne.
James Robertson nailed his first-ever top-flight treble and partnered Tom Hunt to doubles success.
Hunt and Livvy Fletcher got Church over the line, with Gary Stewart (2), Alan Cotton (1) and John Price (1) replying.
Wellesbourne also lost 6-4 to Whitnash A.
Kevin Arris and Mark Woolerton won all of their singles and it was left to Cotton, Price and Stewart and a Cotton/Stewart doubles win to keep it close.
County Council B claimed an emphatic 9-1 win over Free Church C.
Martin Hunter won his three but went to five in each.
Simon Griew also took a maximum and stole the doubles with Martyn Todd 11-9 in the fifth. Todd added two, losing to Harry Purewal.
County Council A moved into third place in Division Two with matches in hand after trouncing Whitnash A 10-0, Chris Maiden, Pat McCabe and Martyn Todd the unbeaten trio.
Millennium A beat Snitterfield A 9-1 with hat-tricks from Peter Harris and Jack Shardlow.
Jack Garner notched two, losing to Nigel Payne, and Harris and Shardlow secured the doubles.
A triple from Roald Myers steered Free Church F to a draw against Nomads Enigmas.
Lewis Singleton contributed two with Nomads forcing a stalemate courtesy of Steve Proctor (2), Malc Macfarlane (1) and John Taylor (1), with Macfarlane and Proctor taking the crucial doubles 11-9 in the fifth.
Rugby C posted two wins in Division Three.
The first came against Free Church I 6-4, thanks to maximums from Sarah James and Martyn Lilley.
Reserve Nick Darwen, Darren Laffey and Joe Shrimpton all claimed one for Church. Laffey and Shrimpton grabbed the doubles.
Rugby C then overcame their D side 8-2.
James and Lilley were again unbeaten in singles and doubles, with Jo Outhwaite contributing one.