The week started off with Team 3’s trip on Tuesday 14th March, to take on Haddington 3 in Division 2. James Wighton, Julian Taylor and Ian Hislop travelled to East Lothian knowing that they needed to improve on their first half performance against the Haddington outfit which had finished in a 5-5 draw. Julian was up first against Mark McMullan. In the reverse fixture Mark had come out on top – it was a good sign therefore when Julian won in four ends. That was backed up by a win for Ian against Gordon Aien and the first round of singles was concluded with a victory for James over David Hayman. Match 4 pitted Julian against Gordon – in the reverse fixture Julian had also lost out in this one but he reversed that result with a comfortable four end victory. The night got better for the visitors when James got the better of Mark in 4 ends to secure at least a point, 5-0. David got the hosts on the board against Ian in match 6 but the win was then secured as James and Julian combined for an important five end win in the doubles. Further wins for Julian and Ian secured an 8-2 victory, a terrific result for Team 3.
Thursday night at Ladywood was a busy one with three teams in action. Team 2 hosted North Merchiston 2 in Division 1. Krzysztof Laszkiewicz, Gary McDougal and Abby Wighton know they’re in deep relegation trouble. The report from Team Captain, Mr Scrabble Man, was a brief one – “Abby played well, don’t ask us the score!” Oh well let’s move on!
Team 4 has, for virtually all of this season, been very much in the relegation battle in Division 3. But then so have a number of teams – no division in the League is as tight as this one. Even with most teams only having two or 3 games left to play no fewer than 6 teams (that’s more than half the division) remain in trouble. Any two of that six could go down. Bob Porteous, Richard Millar and Jim Jack faced a crucial match against Haddington 6 on Thursday evening, the hosts starting the night second bottom and the visitors fourth bottom, separated by just 2 points. The reverse fixture had ended in a 5-5 draw – Team 4 needed to change that result into a win. The night started well with Bob winning in straight sets before Richard was involved in a vital five ender. Having lost the first two ends 11-6, 11-8 he turned the match around winning the next three 11-9, 11-8, 11-7. Jim then looked to make it three wins out of three and was unlucky to lose out 11-8 in the fifth. 2-1 to the hosts. The next set of three singles also produced 2 wins for the hosts and so they held a 4-2 lead going into the doubles. When Bob and Richard combined for a win a point was secured for the hosts. Match 8 then saw Richard involved in another five end marathon – this time, however, he let a 2-0 advantage slip as he lost the final three ends 10-12, 11-13, 9-11 – couldn’t get much closer than that! Still a chance therefore for the visitors to pull out a draw. Match 9 put the result beyond doubt as Jim secured a three end win against his opposite number. Bob then rounded off an excellent night for him and the team with a four end victory to give Penicuik a 7-3 victory.
In an important week for Team 4 they were again in action the following evening as they made the trip to Edinburgh University. They were hit with bad news before the match got underway with the withdrawal of Richard who had injured himself the previous night. Jim Jack stepped in to join Bob Porteous and Rachel Petrie. The visitors got off to a great start when Bob won a tight first match 13-11 in the fifth. Defeats followed however for Jim and Rachel before Bob won another fifth end decider to level the scores at 2-2. The pattern repeated itself unfortunately as the hosts won the next two singles – 4-2 going into the doubles which Bob and Rachel won in four ends – 4-3 down with three matches left to play, could the visitors recover for at least a point? Rachel was then involved in a mammoth five set match and fell at the last hurdle, a 9-11 loss in the decider put the pressure on Bob in game 9 to keep the match alive – it wasn’t to be as Bob lost out in four ends. In the end the University side won the last match of the night to secure a 7-3 victory. So, two matches in two nights and two points secured - that win v Haddington keeps Team 4 one point above the relegation zone.
Team 5 were also in action at Ladywood on Thursday 16th March, as they hosted West Lothian 5 in Division 4. Patrick Shanks, Sian McDonald and Chamika Diyunugalge were the trio selected for his week’s encounter. WL 5 are flying high at the top end of the Division and probably favourites for promotion, so this was never going to be an easy match. Sian was unlucky in Match 1 when she lost out in four ends, the three she lost being by the narrowest of margins, 12-10, 13-11 and 11-8. When Patrick then lost a fifth end decider 11-9 in Match 2, the hosts knew they were in for a long night. Although Chamika lost match 3 in straight sets, it may have been a different story had he not narrowly lost the first end 16-14. Patrick got the hosts on the board in match 4 before Sian again lost out by a very narrow margin – at 1-1 in ends she lost the next two 11-13, 10-12. Match 6 also went the way of the visitors and that secured them a point. Luck just didn’t seem to be on Sian and Patrick’s side as they lost the doubles in five ends, the three ends they lost – 8-11, 11-13, 9-11! The night was summed up by Patrick’s loss in match 8 – another 11-9 in the decider going the way of the Bathgate side. Chamika then lost in five before Sian lost another in 4 as the hosts fell to a 9-1 defeat. As we often say, some 9-1 scores do represent a true gulf between the sides – this 9-1 doesn’t do that. We are sure the WL side will be the first to say that the match was much closer than the score suggests. A good effort by our newest team in the League.
We suppose for sake of completeness we have to at least give the score from Team 2’s match! 8 ends won in their 10-0 defeat. The fat lady is just about to sing….
And so, to our player of the week award. It’s a two-way fight this week between Julian from Team 3 and Bob from Team 4. Both had undefeated nights in the League and both contributed to victories in the doubles – Bob spoiled a perfect week for himself by playing two nights in a row and dropping a match against University – 5 wins out of six on the week is mighty impressive. But given that Julian in the reverse fixture against Haddington had only won 1 against the same trio that turned out in Week 23, his undefeated night was hugely important in Team 3’s victory – well done to Julian.
And finally, our controversy of the week section. We learned this week that Team 1 appear to have conceded a fixture to Murrayfield 1. That was news to both Colin and Greig. Colin sought a postponement of the original fixture scheduled for 30th January. Murrayfield agreed to the postponement. They then offered the 16th of February as a proposed rearranged date. As a result of personal circumstances Greig couldn’t make this date and so Colin advised Murrayfield of that fact (we only have two players as a result of the injury to Brian in the first half of the season). Murrayfield had indicated that they were struggling to find suitable dates. Colin suggested 3 other potential dates and, in his mind anyway, the Edinburgh outfit would come back to him once they had looked more thoroughly at the matter. Although the online scoring system shows the match as postponed, it was noticed by us last week that it also shows as a concession – Colin took the matter up with the Match Secretary and lo and behold Murrayfield appear to have claimed the game on the basis that they offered the 16th of February and we couldn’t make it so done and dusted – a 10-0 win to the Team who are running away with the Premier title and who have an abundance of Premier League players at their disposal. Apparently no other possible dates exist on which they could fit in a rearranged fixture. Yeah thanks Murrayfield. Had Colin known this to be the position which was going to be taken, he would have grabbed someone from a lower team and played with two players – who knows Colin may have won some matches – let’s hope game difference doesn’t play a part at the end of the season with Team 1 in relegation trouble! We are considering an appeal against this “claimed concession”.
Most teams now only have two or three matches left - Week 24 here we come.