Team 1 were due to take on Murrayfield 2 at the Quarter final stage at Ladywood – no show from Murrayfield – more on that later.
Team 2 (Greig McDonell, Paul Tracey and Hannah McDonell) faced Corstorphine 4 who turned up with a +7 and a +5 player. That was always going to make it tough. Hannah playing of scratch (shows her improvement over the last couple of years) faced Aidan Clark, having to give him 5 of a start to 11. When she caught Aidan at 7-7 in the first set things looked rosy but Aidan, courtesy of some excellent serving, pulled away for an 11-8 win. Hannah bounced back in the second set winning it 13-11 but she had no answer in the third or fourth sets as Aidan gave Corstorphine the advantage. Paul then faced a fellow +7 player in a straight race to 11 and won in four ends to square the match. Team Captains Greig and Jeff Clark then faced off, Greig giving away a 7 point advantage – that wasn’t too much was it? Eh yes was the answer – every time Greig seemed to close to within 2 or 3 points, Jeff would fire off one of his fantastic flat forehands and Greig could just never get on top – a straightforward win for Jeff put Corstorphine back in front. That lead was extended when Aidan defeated Paul in four ends and when Jeff defeated Hannah also in four ends the writing was on the wall for the home side. Greig kept the match alive coming back from a 19-0 deficit to win three straight against Bill Batten but Jeff then showed his class recovering from a 12-0 deficit against Paul to win in three straight ends – the two +7 players showing that it can be difficult to win just 4 points. With that win Corstorphine secured a 5-2 victory. The scorecard doesn’t show that Greig played at the same time as Paul just in case time ran out and having given a bit of a hard time to both Hannah and Paul for not being able to deal with Aidan’s serves, he soon found out why they had found it difficult to overcome this +5 player!! He was never in the match and let’s just say it was a good job the score didn’t need to be put on the match card!! Terrific play from Aidan who was voted away player of the match with Hannah picking up that award for the home side.
Team 3 (James Wighton, Charlie Brindley and Craig Linton) took on West Lothian 1 in the final match of the night. This was a cracker. Charlie was first up against Keith Mackay – 3 of a start for Keith and a 3 straight win followed. Craig then pulled the match level with a comfortable win in four ends against Bob Lander with the help of a 5 point start. Although he lost game 3, 12-10 the three ends he won were extremely straightforward, 11-1, 11-6, 11-3. James then faced Wojciech Wziatek who’s handicap of -5 looks generous - we’ve seen him play in vets events this season and he has some cracking wins to his name including one against one of the best Premier players Dariusz Szymczak. A 4 point start for James wasn’t enough as he fell 3-0. Craig then levelled the scores again with another 4 end win, defeating Keith in similar fashion to his first match – a close loss 13-15 but the three ends won 14-7,14-6,14-5. Match 5 saw Charlie take on Wojciech – a one point start to Wojciech didn’t cause any problem to Charlie in the first two ends as his anti-spin nullified his opponents play. Wojciech is a clever player though and with a change in his tactics he absolutely strolled through the next three ends 12-4, 12-1, 12-6. WL led again but James then pulled the home side level with a 3-0 win v Bob. The two undefeated players then met, Craig v Wojciech. Craig had a 10-0 start in a race to 16. Surely this was the match to see Penicuik take the lead for the first time – Craig tried everything, but the consistency of his opponent was impressive – 15-17, 11-16, 16-18 and once again WL led and this time they were one win away from the match – 4-3 up with two to play. Match 8 pitted James against Keith – two division two players, Keith giving James a 2 point start in a race to 13. This was close – a 14-12 first end win for James was cancelled out by a 15-13 second end win for Keith. The third end was crucial and when James won it 13-10 this seemed to affect Keith’s confidence and James strolled to victory in the fourth 13-5. 4-4 and the decider saw Charlie take on Bob who had a 6-0 advantage in a race to 17. Six was never enough for Bob as Charlie comfortably used his experience to win the all important deciding match in three straight ends. A terrific match and an excellent 5-4 victory for Penicuik.
Away from the Handicap Cup, Team 2 caught up on an outstanding fixture against ESC. The home fixture in the first half of the season has probably been Team 2s best match of the season. That 6-4 victory wasn’t repeated, however, as ESC flexed their muscles at home with a 7-3 win. Team 2 are in big trouble in Division 1 – their 9-1 loss to fellow strugglers Corstorphine a couple of weeks ago still haunts them and may still prove to be the turning point in their season!
And so, to our player of the week award. Credit to Charlie for winning the deciding fixture in his handicap cup match but the win was set up by 2 wins each for James and Craig. It’s difficult to split them, but given James had to do more from his -2 starting point, well done to him – his win v Keith under pressure was the key to the overall match win.
And finally, our controversy of the week section. Our Handicap Cup Team 1 turned up last Thursday to face Murrayfield in this season’s Quarter Final. All three of our handicap cup teams were present for a busy night of cup action. By 7pm two games had started but there was still no sign of Team 1’s opponents. By 7.15 the team were getting impatient. By 7.30 it seemed clear no one was turning up. Phone calls were made to Murrayfield – no idea what was happening. By 8pm the three home players left Ladywood, Gary particularly annoyed having spent an hour on buses getting to the match. The previous week in response to the handicap cup Secretary’s email reminder about matches being played in the handicap cup week we had emailed the circulation list which includes “senior / Committee” members from all clubs involved, indicating that the 2 second round matches and the quarter final v Murrayfield would all be played on Thursday 17th Feb – 6.30pm for 6.45 start. Corstorphine and WL obviously had no difficulty in communicating that to their relevant teams, but it appears Murrayfield did not. Of course, the difficulty with handicap cup is that generally teams are mixed. Our Team 1 does not contain any League Team 1 players. The same applied to our teams 2 and 3 so we have to rely on clubs’ senior figures passing on the relevant info. Our three team 1 players, (identities to remain anonymous), were quickly telling our committee to claim the match! We await an explanation but assume it will simply be that the Murrayfield Team didn’t know they should have been at Ladywood. One would have thought though that even if the info hadn’t been passed on, whoever was in that team would at least be wondering and querying what was happening in Handicap Cup Week! Ah don’t we just love a little bit of controversy!