The West Lothian trio of Stuart Gibson (+4), Kenny Lambie (+7) and John Crilly (+7) all held significant advantages in each of the matches played against Greig (-12), Iain (-7) and Abby (-1). In Match 1 Greig failed to overturn the 0-19 deficit against Kenny in a race to 23 points as the home side went 1-0 up. Match 2 saw Abby give a 5 point start to Stuart in a race to 12 and she held her nerve to win in four tight ends. Iain then clawed back a 14 point deficit against John as he squeezed home in the fifth and deciding end by 18 points to 16 to give the visitors a 2-1 lead after the first round of matches. Stuart played some great TT for the home side and his +4 handicap was too much for both Greig and Iain to overturn as he kept his side in the match. Further wins, however, for Abby against John and Iain against Kenny kept the visitors ahead at 4-3.
With time marching on the last two matches of the night were played simultaneously - Greig against John (0-19 to 23) and Abby against Kenny (0-8 to 12). Abby won the first end 12-10 before Greig heard a huge scream from her as she lost the 2nd 12-0!! Greig, who was already feeling the pressure squeezed home 23-21, 24-22 in the first two ends of his match. Abby, who was player of the night bounced back brilliantly to win the 3rd and 4th ends 12-10 to secure the victory for the visitors. Greig actually relaxed half way through his 3rd end and according to Iain actually then played three positive table tennis shots as he won his third end 23-21! A 6-3 final score but a tough match which in truth could have so easily gone the other way. Abby was the difference between the teams - undefeated on the night as the Team secured their 3rd consecutive semi-final appearance where they will meet West Lothian opposition again.
Meanwhile, some outstanding fixtures were caught up on in the League. In Division 1 Team 3 faced Fife 1 without Iain who was on Cup duty. Krzysztof Lazkiewicz stepped up from Division 2 to join regulars Brian Bailey and Clive Liddiard. In a stroke of good fortune for Team 3, the visitors turned up at Ladywood a player down - Oh what Team 2 would give for that type of luck! 3-0 up and a crucial win for Brian as he won in five ends against Lance Stockdale - Clive had a good night with two five end wins including the final match of the night against Steve McKay where, in a tense encounter, he held his nerve to win 11-7 in the deciding end and thus secure a terrific 6-4 win for Team 3.
In Division 3, Penicuik 5 also faced opposition from over the water as they visited Fife 3, still missing regular Gregory Leplatre - It's only a new baby Gregory - surely time to get back to playing! Luke Hennessey stepped up from Division 4 as his replacement and may well have caused our selection Committee for next year some headaches with his performance. John Bald won 2 and Phil Daly won 1 but the star of the night was Luke who won all three of his singles matches as the visitors recorded an excellent 6-4 win.
Finally, there was an intra-club fixture at Ladywood as Teams 7 & 8 met for the second time this year in Division 4. Team 7 had to cope with the late call off through illness of Millie Bennett who was replaced by Martyn Levy from Team 8 - Martyn's first season in the League has been a difficult one as he has struggled to convert his practice form onto the League matches - No doubt much to Team Captain Rachel's disbelief, he seems to have decided that a match against his own teammates was the time to show his true form as he won two singles whilst regulars Craig Johnson and Stuart Bennett were undefeated on the night for Team 7. Lewis Baldock and Kathryn McKenzie were unlucky not to record a win on the night as Rachel won the only match for Team 8 in their 9-1 defeat.
And so to Player of the Week for Week 20 - Abby looked like being a shoo-in for this week's award but then along came Luke playing up for Team 5 - undefeated whilst his far more experienced teammates won the same number of games between them - a sign of great improvement. But in the end not quite enough for the award because surely a third semi-final in three years merits recognition and Abby who has regularly been threatened with getting dropped (Iain's terrible!) stepped up to the plate with a great performance. Well done Abby.
Speaking of improvement, it is always the hope that youngsters improve with more experience - Luke's average in Div 4 last year was 63% whereas he's currently above 80% this season whilst teammate Louis Myatt has massively improved from 16% last year to approx 60% this season - hopefully more to come from that pair.
And finally to our controversy of the Week - It's Valentine's Day today - in the spirit of peace and love to all we've got nothing controversial to report this week - and the football's just started!!!