Team 1 maintained the same trio from the first-round victory over Fife as they hosted Haddington. Julian Taylor (Scr), Charlie Brindley (-7) and Craig Johnson (+4) got off to a good start after Craig came back from 2-0 down to win Match 1 in 5 ends and that was followed by a good 3-0 win for Julian. Needing only 6 points, John Robson was too good for Charlie and the scores were then levelled as Bruce Murie, with a 2-point start, defeated Julian. Craig certainly likes getting his money’s worth as he then took 5 ends to give the home side the advantage again before the match was squared at 3-3 when Charlie lost out to Bruce in 3 straight sets. Match 7 always looked like it was going to be crucial to the outcome, Julian v John – 0-5 to 11 and when John squeezed home 11-9 in the first end it looked bleak for the hosts, but back came Julian with an 11-9 in the second. He was also well down in the third but brilliantly came back to level at 10-10 – maybe Julian thought the hard work had been done as he lost the next two points and with that a slump in confidence as John ran out a comfortable win in the fourth end. Never mind though, Penicuik’s best handicap on the night, Craig would then have a chance to send the match into the decider……… Eh hold on – for some reason, only known to Team 1, they chose to play Craig on the long matches, 1, 5 and 9 – instead it came down to Charlie to try and save the match and with a Handicap Cup record thus far this season of played 5 lost 5, it is fair to say hopes were not great that he could overturn a 0-9 deficit in a race to 18. In fairness to Charlie he played his best TT of the night, and at 1 set all the third set went all the way – an 18-16 loss however seemed to knock the stuffing out of Charlie and the Haddington trio secured the win needed for a 5-3 victory, Craig looking on in bewilderment as to why he had only played two matches!
Having defeated a Murrayfield side in Round 1, Team 2 faced another trip to Roseburn in their quest to reach the last 8. Gary McDougal (-4), David Melrose (-8) and Louis McLeod, (+6) faced Masoud Nowbaveh (Scr), Haydn Jackson (+3) and Colin Clark (-8). When Masoud dispatched Gary in 3 straight sets (without Gary getting anywhere near him) and Haydn then disposed of David, this looked like being a quick night for the visitors. Louis got the team on the board with a comfortable win against Premier Division player, Colin but the lead was extended again as Haydn wasted little effort in disposing of Gary. Tactically, unlike Team 1, Team 2 had this one right with Louis to play the “quick matches” ensuring, they hoped, that he would get his 3 played before the match was over – he duly won Match 5 before Colin defeated David to give the hosts a 4-2 lead. Louis ended his terrific night with a terrific 11-8 in the fifth win v Haydn and the match was still alive at 4-3. We’re told that Gary had virtually put his shoes on and was ready for the trip home before he remembered that he quite likes playing players who are supposedly better than him – a four end win for Gary over Colin and the match was levelled for the first time since the start of the evening. David v Masoud was to be the decider – and what a decider it was – 0-8 to 19 and the match swung one way and then the other – into the deciding end of the deciding match and still no one had a clue who was going to come out on top – would you believe it – deuce was reached in the 5th– 17-17 before David held his nerve for a terrific comeback win for the visitors. A 5-4 victory sent the Midlothian trio home over the moon.
Team 3 had a good win over West Lothian in Round 1 and they travelled to ESC with Abby Wighton (-5) Sonny Taylor (+3) and George Wilson (+4) looking to reach the quarter final stage. This match definitely deserves a better write up than it’s going to get but no-one from Penicuik has provided any details, other than the fact that George had another terrific night, undefeated and Sonny added two wins in a 5-3 victory for the visitors. Abby is slightly worried about her place in the quarter finals after a winless night!
And finally, in Week 15, Team 4 were ruthless in dropping 12 year old Hannah McDonell after a winless Round 1 for her (OK – maybe she was participating in a school concert or something like that) – she was replaced by James Wighton (-3) to join forces with Ian Hislop (-7) and Greig McDonell (-12) as they hosted Corstorphine, Stan Stoodley (-8), Amjad Mohammed (-6) and Alan Easton (+2). Although Ian lost in Match 1 to Stan, the hosts took control as both James and Greig had terrific wins v Amjad and Alan respectively. Stan restored parity with a comfortable win v James in Match 4 but further wins for Ian v Alan and Greig v Amjad put the hosts on the brink of a last 8 place at 4-2 up. Match 7 saw James take on Alan (0-5 to 14) and when James won the first end for the loss of only 3 points (14-8) the match was in the bag – off wandered Team Captain Greig to check out what was happening in Team 1’s match, relaxed in the knowledge that his night was over. When he returned for the handshakes, he found that Alan had won ends 2 and 3! Oh my goodness – a fourth end win for James and the hosts were back on track for a straightforward victory! Maybe not – the deciding end saw Alan play his best TT of the night for a 14-9 victory and suddenly the match was still alive. 9.40pm and suddenly a concession was a possible outcome – Matches 8 and 9 were hurriedly put on simultaneously – Team 1’s Craig and Charlie watched Greig’s first end v Stan (0-4 to 15) – they’d seen enough as Greig fell to a 15-2 defeat! Meanwhile Ian was involved in a mammoth first end with Amjad – in a match where the start was only 1 point in a race to 12, the first end went Ian’s way 19-17! Greig recovered for a 2ndend 17-15 win as Ian took control of his match with a 12-8 victory. As Greig won end 3 for a 2-1 advantage, Ian lost his third end – with Greig praying for a victory for Ian in end 4 he lost his fourth end only to see Ian lose his as well! How could it have come down to this!! At 10.15pm with the Ladywood Manager getting more and more annoyed both matches went into deciding fifth ends. Greig got a bit lucky as Stan missed a number of forehand drives as he secured a 15-9 victory in the deciding end (the other match was abandoned at 7-5 – who knows how that may have finished) and the most relieved man in the hall was none other than James!!
And so, to our Player of the Week Award for Week 15. There were undefeated nights for Greig, Craig, George and Louis – Craig only played 2 so for that reason and for allowing that bad tactical decision to be made he’s out of the running! George seemingly had a great night at ESC and clearly his 3 wins were crucial to Team 3 getting over the line – but he forgot to take a picture of the scorecard on his new I-Phone 3 (we’re sure it can take pictures) – so he’s out! And so it’s a straight fight between Louis and Greig – there can only be one winner can’t there? His great experience, coming back from big deficits, helping his teammates through, saving the day at the very last minute before being thrown out of the Centre…….. Hang on – according to our Player of the Week Committee, anyone who is able to return Haydn’s serves and hold his nerve against an aggressive young up and coming player and see his team through two rounds where he has been undefeated, not to mention putting up with oldies Gary and David deserves this week’s award – Well done Louis!
In the season of goodwill, we weren’t going to bother with a controversial moment this week but then we heard from that really nasty James about an incident at ESC in Week 15. One week, James is really nice, mild mannered, friendly and helpful and then the next week he is Mr Confrontation! That’s worth a write up in itself. In team 3’s match, George came back from the dead against one of his ESC opponents and gave out his now legendary yelp of joy when he secured the win. Maybe it was that which was taken exception to by his opponent who then declared for anyone who wanted to hear it that “he had just been lucky” and by inference didn’t really deserve the win. This seemingly went completely over George’s head who was oblivious to the comment. But hold on – one man in the room wasn’t prepared to let it go – step up Mr Confrontation himself, James. He challenged the ESC player and pointed out that George had deserved to win – support your teammates – even though James wasn’t even playing. Seemingly, the opposing players teammates also defended George’s win – George was still oblivious to it all – he was too busy thinking about being this week’s player of the Week well – nearly George!
It’s been a quick first half of the season. We’ll be back with a Round-up of the first 15 weeks next Sunday – in the meantime we would like to wish our Members and all our TT friends from around the League and beyond a very Merry Christmas.