Inexperienced Lillington narrowly avoid the drop

Lillington Free Church' s Junior British League side narrowly avoided relegation from Division 2B on the final weekend of action in Derby after finishing joint-bottom with Ulster.

Saturday, 28th January 2017, 11:10 am
Lillington Free Church members Jack Green, Timmy Cooper, Adam Cofler and Lewis Singleton. Picture submitted

It was always going to be a tough ask for a Lillington side who had seen two of their top juniors progress to the senior ranks this year.

However, their inexperienced squad amassed enough legs in losing games to condemn Ulster to the drop on countback.

Starting the second weekend fifth of the six teams, Lillington faced leaders Halton first up.

Number one Timmy Cooper recovered from 2-0 down to beat Halton’s number two Connor Whitehead to put Lillington ahead but a defeat in four for Adam Cofler against Keir Morton levelled the match.

Jack Green went down 11-9, 11-7, 11-6 to Harry Watson and from there on it was relatively plain sailing for the top side as they went on to secure a 5-1 win.

Lillington then went on to suffer 6-0 whitewashes against Kingfisher and Market Rasen to leave them with the sole aim of avoiding a bottom-placed finish on the Sunday.

First up were fourth-placed Irish Boys and Cooper looked in excellent form as he sped to a 3-0 victory over Art McLaughlin.

Dylan Grace, Dylan Byrne and McLaughlin then put their collective feet down and rattled off the next four games.

Cofler then overcame Byrne deuce in the fifth to limit the defeat to 4-2.

The final match of the weekend and the season was against bottom-placed Ulster.

With Ulster yet to score a point and Lillington on two, a draw would guarantee Free Church avoided relegation.

Defeat would leave the teams tied on two points and the final positions would then be decided on the number of individual legs won over the competition.

Defender James McGrath, edged Ulster into an early lead with a hard-fought win over Green, after which Cooper safely negotiated his way past Matthew Cherry to level.

Lewis Singleton was looking confident after levelling at 1-1 against Conor Smith, but the third leg passed him by a little too quickly before Smith took a closer fourth to secure the win.

Cooper and McGrath shared the first two legs, both 12-10, but McGrath then got on top and trotted through the next two to move Ulster within a point of victory.

Green needed to beat Smith to keep the draw alive for Lillington and let an early lead go during the middle of the first leg, losing it 11-8.

Green regrouped well and used heavy topspin and the slower ball to great effect, growing in confidence with every point as he took the next three to leave the match score at 3-2 to Ulster.

Singleton needed to beat Cherry to grasp the draw but it was not to be as he went down 3-0.

However, Lillington had done enough to preserve their Division 2B status, with Halton taking the title after picking up 19 out of a possible 20 points.