First up on Wednesday 21st Feb was Team 6’s trip to Bathgate to take on West Lothian 7 in Division 5. Roscoe Cairney, Mat Dyluk and Ian Millar took to the table for the visitors against the side who sat in 2nd place in the Division and a mammoth 16 points ahead of them in the table. The Penicuik trio knew it was going to be tough and so it proved as the first three matches went the way of the hosts. Roscoe got the team on the board with a win in Match 4 but two further wins for the hosts secured at least a point and that was converted to a win when the doubles also went WL’s way. The last three games of the night shows what team 6 need to work on – consistency! After losing ends 2 and 3 heavily, 11-2 and 11-4, Ian fantastically turned around his match winning the last two ends 11-9, 13-11. Roscoe then lost in three before Mat somehow turned it on against WL’s best player – a 90% average with 19 wins out of 21 played and Mat took him to a fifth end decider, narrowly losing out 11-9 in the fifth! An 8-2 loss but some real positives to take away from the match.
Team 2 of David Melrose, James Wighton and Steve Collins made the long trip to Ocean Terminal on Thursday to take on Murrayfield 7 in Division 1. David continued his terrific form winning all three of his singles (all by 3-1 scorelines). Steve picked up one win in his first two matches and going into the doubles Team 2 were tied at 3-3. Steve and David combined to give the visitors the advantage going into the last three games of the night. Could they record their first win of the season – David’s win in Match 9 secured the point and it was left to Steve to hold his nerve in Match 10 to record the win – a fine four end victory and the “so close” team picked up two points! Even better news - the win took them off the bottom of the table. Bad news followed however when it was noted that the teams around them had also recorded victories and third bottom is now six points ahead of them! Miracles can happen, but…….
In the Premier Division, Team 1 was without the holidaying, Greig McDonell (how dare he) as they hosted West Lothian 1 at Ladywood. Craig Linton got his first taste of Premier action playing up from Division 3 as he joined Peter Aird and Colin Green. Matches 2, 3 and 4 were pivotal – Peter lost match 2 in 4 ends after looking comfortable in the first end, Colin then lost in five before Peter lost in five in Match 4 – that effectively ended the match as a contest. The home side found themselves 5-0 down before Colin recorded a five end win in match 6. He was the only winner on the night, another five end win in Match 9 resulting in an 8-2 loss for the hosts.
At the beginning of 2024 Team 3 sat in second place in the Division 2 table and after their first match of 2024, a win against ESC, they looked strong contenders for promotion back to Division 1 from where they had been relegated last season. Krzysztof Laszkiewicz, Bob Porteous and Gary McDougal then went on a terrible run, picking up only 1 point from a possible 8 and just when they thought things couldn’t get any worse, Edinburgh Uni rolled into Ladywood and quickly left again with a win under their belts. In Team 3’s worst result of the season, only Gary troubled the scorers as the hosts fell to a 9-1 defeat. In the space of five weeks Team 3 have fallen from 2nd to 7th and their promotion hopes have all but disappeared – yikes!
Team 5 were also at home on Thursday as they hosted Murrayfield 11 in Division 4. Rachel Petrie, Patrick Shanks and Chamika Diyunugalge were looking for a better outcome than in the first half of the season where they had fallen to a 7-3 loss. Only one player from the Murrayfield side that secured that win made the trip to Ladywood and perhaps that made a big difference. It didn’t start well for the hosts, however, as they fell 3-1 behind. However, 2 singles wins and a win for Chamika and Patrick in the doubles suddenly gave the hosts a 4-3 advantage with the final round of singles left to play. When Chamika lost match 8 the scores were tied at 4-4. Patrick secured a four end win to secure a point and it was left to Rachel to see if that could be converted to a win. She had lost to her opponent in three straight ends in the reverse fixture, but on this occasion it was completely different – a straightforward 3-0 win gave the Penicuik trio an excellent 6-4 victory.
Friday evening saw Team 4 make the trip to League Leaders Edinburgh University in Division 3. Kristian Skotzen, Craig Linton and Aidan Craig visited St Leonards Land and they got off to a great start as Aidan won the first match of the night against a player he had lost to 3-0 in the reverse fixture. When Craig and Kristian also won their first matches the Midlothian outfit led 3-0 and were looking strong. Aidan lost match 4 but Kristian made the gap 3 again with a win in Match 5. The final match before the doubles was to prove crucial – Craig has been in super form this season and when he went 2-0 up he looked like he was going to get the fifth win for the visitors. His opponent had other ideas – in an agonising turnaround, Craig lost the next three ends 12-10, 14-12, 11-9! That seemed to give the students a real boost and when they won the doubles the comeback was well and truly on. From 4-1 down they won the next 4 matches as Kristian and Aidan both lost their last matches and suddenly the students held their first lead of the night at 5-4. It would have been a travesty had the Penicuik trio not got something out of the match and Craig recovered well from his earlier loss to win Match 10 and secure a 5-5 draw – oh what might have been.
And so, to our player of the week award. Only David was undefeated in singles play this week. Well done to him. But being undefeated isn’t the only criteria for winning this award – sorry Dave! A crucial first win of the season for Team 2 looked very much in doubt after this player had been ill and nearly never made it to the match at all – but with Hannah unavailable and no one else able to play, he answered the plea from his team captain who needed him - he lifted himself from his bed, made the horrendous trip to Ocean Terminal, was definitely under the weather but still played a blinder pulling David through in the doubles (according to James) and held his nerve in match 10 to secure a 6-4 win for the team – well done to Steve!
And finally, our controversy of the week section. That old chestnut of the Player of the Match award reared its head again this week! Team 6 were soundly beaten 8-2 by West Lothian in Week 21 – two of the West Lothian players were undefeated in singles play with their third player only winning 1 out of 3 – how were team 6 going to decide between the top two players – maybe on ends won – Neil Webb won his three matches 3-0 whereas his teammate’s wins were 3-1, 3-0 and 3-2. It must be Neil then! Oh, hold on neither of those players won it – it went to the player who was the only one to lose. We thought there was maybe a mistake on the card so checked with Team 6 – no mistake, the player was very happy, the soul of the team and epitomised what the sport should be about! Well, there you go! As we have said many times before, depending on your opponents, this award is more of a popularity contest than a mark of who the best player is – and we think we like that!
It was another busy night at Ladywood on Thursday with three teams in action. 6 tables crammed into our half of the main hall is just about manageable – although there can be quite a lot of disruptions with balls flying in from other tables etc. During Team 5s match one of our home players was umpiring and got a real fright from a shriek of horror (or maybe it was joy) that came from the adjacent Premier Division match. The Murrayfield player was in the process of serving and “duffed his serve” – such was the loudness of the scream that the Umpire decided a let should be played, much to the annoyance of the umpire’s teammate! But actually, we think the umpire was right – Rule 2.1 indicates that a let can be called if “the failure to make a service or a return or otherwise to comply with the Laws is due to a disturbance outside the control of the player”. If the Umpire got a fright then surely that’s sufficient reason to decide that there had been a disturbance! Good umpiring we think!
Only 5 weeks left of the League season! Wow that’s gone quick!