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The Edinburgh & Lothians Table Tennis League reached it’s final round of regular scheduled fixtures last week with all attention on the Division Two Title Decider between Penicuik’s 2nd and 3rd Teams. James Wighton, Gary Mcdougall and Abby Wighton of Penicuik 3 were two points clear of Clive Liddiard, Brian Bailey and Tony Brentnall and knew that they needed at least a draw to finish at the top of the division. However, with a better game difference, Penicuik 2 knew that a win would give them the Title. The scene was set for what would turn out to be an extremely tense and exciting end to the regular season.
Abby gave the 3rd time the perfect start by defeating Tony 3-1 before Clive pulled the scores level by defeating James. The 3rd Team then retook the lead when Gary defeated Brian only for the match to be levelled again when Clive defeated Abby in 4 ends. There then seemed to be swing in favour of the Division leaders as Gary and James both won their next matches by a 3-0 scoreline putting Penicuik 3 on the verge of the Division 2 title. James and Gary then combined in the doubles with the first chance to achieve the all important fifth win of the night but Clive and Brian had other ideas coming back from an end down to win a tight match 3-2 and to cut the match score deficit to 4-3. Brian then kept the match alive with a 3-0 win over Abby as the tension levels increased further. The key match of the night turned out to be the encounter between Gary and Clive. At two ends to one down, Clive faced 2 match points in end 4 but managed to survive those as he won 13-11 thus forcing a fifth end decider. The match swung one way then another but Gary held his nerve to win the deciding end by the narrowest of margins 11-9 thus securing the vital point which guaranteed the 3rd Team the division 2 Championship. Tony never gave up fighting in the final game of the night as he defeated James 15 points to 13 in the final end to prove how closely matched the two teams were on the night and indeed how closely matched they have been all season.
In the end, had a couple of points gone a different way Team 2 would have claimed the Division 2 Title. A terrific result for James, Gary and Abby who finished the season with only 1 loss in 18 matches and well deserved the title and automatic promotion to Division 1 for next season. Penicuik’s 2nd Team now face a play off against the second bottom team from Division 1 and remain hopeful of joining their Clubmates and renewing their rivalry in Division 1 next year.
Away from the excitement of Division 2, in the Premier Division it was an excellent week for Penicuik’s first Team of Greig McDonell, Colin Green and Iain Johnstone as they first defeated West Lothian 2 by 8 games to 2 before recording the same result against Edinburgh International 2 later in the week. Greig and Colin each won their 6 singles matches played and combined for two doubles wins whilst Iain added one win in each match. A great end to the season for the 1st Team who finished a creditable 6th place in the Premier League.
In Division 3, Penicuik’s 4th Team also had a good week recording a 6-4 victory against Corstorphine. Krzysztof Laszkiewicz was the star of the night for Team 4 as he won all three of his singles matches and combined for a win in the doubles with John Bald. John won 1 singles match and Team Captain Phil Daly added the final win for the Ladywood side who still have two postponed matches outstanding to finish their campaign.
In Division 4, Penicuik 5 finished their season with two matches last week as they first travelled to take on Edinburgh International 8. Gregory Leplatre and Luke Hennessey both won their three singles in an excellent 6-4 win for the visitors. Lewis Baldock was unlucky not to pick up a win. Then later in the week the side hosted Fife 3. Only Luke survived from the earlier fixture as he was joined by Rachel Petrie and Louis Myatt. The first two matches which were extremely tight affairs set the tone for the night as first Rachel then Louis both lost in deciding ends. The Fife Club never looked back from that point as they ran out 7-3 victors. Luke continued his excellent week by winning 2 singles whilst Louis won 1.
It was a quiet week for the Club with only two teams in action as the Edinburgh & Lothians Table Tennis League reached it’s penultimate round of fixtures. The attention remained on Penicuik 3 who hosted 3rd placed Edinburgh International 5 in their race for the Division 2 Title.
Going into the fixture, James Wighton, Gary Mcdougall and Abby Wighton were level on points with League Leaders Penicuik 2 but had played a game less. Having managed only a 5-5 draw in the first half of the season against the Edinburgh side, the Penicuik trio knew they were in for a tough match. Team Captain James, who has hit a rich vein of form over the last few weeks, gave the hosts the perfect start as he came back from 2 ends to 1 down to win Match 1 of the night. He was ably supported by Gary and Abby who both won their opening singles to give the home team a terrific start. By the time the second round of singles matches were played the home side had done enough to at least secure a point as further wins for James and Gary gave Penicuik an unassailable 5-1 lead. Having guaranteed a point there was no surprise when the home side marched on to win 3 of the final four matches for an excellent 8-2 victory. James once again won all his three singles whilst Gary and Abby both won 2. James also combined with Gary for a win in the doubles fixture.
The result puts the trio two points clear of Clive, Brian and Tony at the top of the Division with the crunch match between the two teams set to take place on Wednesday 25th March. The 2nd Team remain in contention for the title, however, as with a better game difference (only by two games), they know that any win in the final fixture will give them the title. The 3rd Team, although underdogs at the start of the season, must go into the match as slight favourites in the knowledge that they can win the title with a draw. The scene is set for what promises to be a fantastic finale to the season…....
The only other match of the week saw the 1st Team of Greig McDonell, Colin Green and Iain Johnstone face a home tie against Murrayfield 2. Both teams had little to play for as they sat in mid table safety. The key match turned out to be game 3 of the night when Greig fought back from 2 ends down against Grant Williams to take the game into a deciding end only to lose that end 12-10. Although the 1st Team rallied from 5-1 down, they couldn't quite do enough as they lost 6-4.
With the season near to a conclusion some other issues were put to bed last week. In Division 3, Penicuik's 4th Team had a bye week but mathematically still had the chance off a 2nd place finish although they were no longer in control of their own destiny. Without hitting a ball in anger their hopes of promotion were ended as West Lothian 7 ran out comfortable winners in their penultimate match of the season and secured 2nd place. As the man with too many "Zs" in his name (thats you Kris) said "there's always next year"! Congratulations to Fife who secured the title last week and to West Lothian who will contest the play off spot.
Elsewhere in the League, the Premier Division Title has long since been decided with Murrayfield 1 undefeated throughout the season. The Team of the year however must be our friends from West Lothian 1 who have forced their way not only into the top four but look virtually guaranteed to finish 2nd in the Division - well done to them. The real drama is at the foot of the division where 3 teams are still in the running for automatic relegation. A defeat for West Lothian 2 against our 1st Team tomorrow (23rd March) would result in them dropping out of the Premier League.
In Division 1, a point last week was enough to secure the title for Murrayfield 4 whilst Edinburgh Sports Club 2 will contest the play off. At the foot of the table Murrayfield 5 have been relegated but second bottom is still not decided.
Finally, in Division 4 all still to play for at the top although Graham Booth's North Merchiston 4 (is he really playing in Division 4!!) look favourites for the title.
As the Edinburgh & Lothians Table Tennis League draws near to a conclusion the battle for the Division 2 Title took another twist last week with Penicuik’s 2nd and 3rd Teams both in action.
Going into Week 24 of the season, Penicuik 3 of father and daughter duo James and Abby Wighton and Gary McDougall sat 3 points behind League Leaders Penicuik 2 of Clive Liddiard, Brian Bailey and Tony Brentnall. The 3rd Team, however, had two games in hand on their more senior Clubmates. One of those games in hand saw the trio travel last Monday night to take on Meadowbank. On a great night for the visitors, Team Captain James led the way winning all 3 of his singles matches whilst Gary added 2 and Abby 1. James also combined with Gary for a win in the doubles fixture in a terrific 7-3 win. That result mathematically ensured that Penicuik would fill the top two spots in the Division with two weeks to go in the regular season.
Two nights later, Team 2 had an opportunity to reinstate their three point lead at the top of the Division as they faced West Lothian 6 at home. The last few weeks have seen a couple of slip ups by the 2nd Team but with their opponents sitting in the lower half of the division it should have been a straightforward night for the hosts. The turning point of the night was Game 3 between Penicuik’s Brian Bailey and West Lothian’s Martin Rumsey. After winning two of the first three ends, Brian looked in control. Needing 11 points to win an end, but having to win by two clear points, the final two ends were mammoth affairs. Brian lost the 4th end by 17 points to 15 and then remarkably went even longer in the deciding end losing that by 20 points to 18. The home player never recovered and went on to lose his 3 singles matches. Fortunately Clive was able to win 3 and Tony 2 as the home team scrambled to a 5-5 draw.
Team 3 were then back in action the following night against West Lothian 5 and had none of the dramas of the 2nd Team as James and Gary both won their 3 singles and Abby won 2 as they ran out comfortable 8-2 winners. The victory draws the 3rd Team level on points at the top of the Division with Penicuik 2 but they still have a game in hand which they play next week. With a better game difference, the 2nd Team retain the advantage but a point from their penultimate fixture for the 3rd Team will mean that they will only require a draw when the two Penicuik teams go head to head in the title decider on 25th March.
It has been an up and down season for Penicuik’s 1st Team. Whilst Greig McDonell and Colin Green are veterans of the top flight, Iain Johnstone has stepped up two Divisions from last season for his first taste of the Premier Division. At the start of the season therefore, the 1st Team’s aim was to ensure another season of Premier League Table Tennis for the Midlothian Club. Although the 1st Team have never realistically been threatened with relegation they knew going into Week 24 that a win against Murrayfield 3 would mathematically secure their Premier Division status for another year. In what turned out to be a very tight and tense affair, Greig and Colin both showed their experience in winning all 3 of their singles matches in the visitor’s 6-4 victory. With three matches to go, the 1st Team sit comfortably in 6th position in the table.
The last match of the week for Penicuik saw the Club’s newest team, Penicuik 5, facing a home match against Edinburgh University in Division 4. Having lost the reverse fixture 10-0, the home side were looking for some improvement and that they achieved as Kathryn McKenzie, Louis McLeod and Rachel Petrie all won 1 match in their 7-3 defeat. The 5th Team can take heart from the fact that three of their seven losses on the night came in deciding ends and had those games gone the other way the result would have been very different.
Week 23 of the Edinburgh & Lothians Table Tennis League saw three Penicuik Teams in action.
With Penicuik 3's match postponed, Team 2 had an opportunity to increase their lead at the top of Division 2 as they faced a home tie against Corstorphine 4, the same team who had gone down to a heavy 9-1 defeat against 2nd placed Penicuik 3 the previous week. The Penicuik trio of Clive Liddiard, Brian Bailey and Tony Brentnall were determined to avoid any slip ups and although four of the ten matches on the night went all the way to a deciding fifth end the home side won all of them as they matched their Clubmates scoreline from the previous week with a resounding 9-1 victory. Clive and Tony both won their three singles matches whilst Brian won 2 and combined with Clive for a win in the doubles.
The victory assures the 2nd Team of a top two finish as they sit 6 points clear of third placed Edinburgh International who can only pick up a maximum of 4 points from their remaining two fixtures. The battle for the title rages on, however, with the 3rd Team 3 points behind but now with two games in hand. A win in Week 24 would mathematically seal a top two finish for the 3rd Team as well.
In Division 3 Penicuik 4 had been poor at the start of the season but an amazing run in the second quarter had catapulted them into contention for a play off spot and going into week 23 they sat in 3rd place. Gavin Hunter, Krzysztof Laszkiewicz and John Bald travelled to take on Corstorphine 6 who were hot on the heels of the visitors in 4th place in the division. When Penicuik won 3 of the first 4 matches on the night a victory looked on the cards for the visitors. Game 5 between John Bald and his opposite number turned out to be crucial as John narrowly lost out in a very tight deciding 5th end. When that was followed by a 5 end defeat for Team Captain, Gavin the scores were level. A win in the doubles gave the visitors hope that they could come away with the vital 2 points but two of the last 3 matches went the way of the home side resulting in a 5-5 draw. The draw does neither club much good and in particular it appears that Penicuik's challenge for 2nd spot is all but over. With West Lothian winning, Penicuik now find themselves 5 points behind second place and they now need help from other teams if they are to finish in the top 2. A point for the West Lothian side in week 24 would effectively end any remote possibility of a play off spot for Penicuik.
In Division 4, the youngsters of Penicuik 5 faced a difficult trip to Bathgate to take on 2nd placed West Lothian 8. Luke Hennessey, Louis McLeod and Lewis Baldock are all playing their first season of competitive table tennis and all have benefitted from the 2014/15 season having gained invaluable experience against quality opposition. On the night, only Luke managed a win as the Bathgate based team ran out 9-1 winners.
Midlothian's only ELTTL representatives.