We start this week in Division 2 where both Penicuik 3 and 4 faced crucial fixtures for very different reasons. Team 3 of James Wighton, Gary Mcdougal and Abby Wighton faced a home tie against Edinburgh University 3 in the knowledge that avoiding defeat would ensure at least a second place finish in the Division thus securing promotion to Division 1. There was some panic around Ladywood as in the first 5 matches of the night James was the only winner (twice). Trailing 3-2, a win for Gary followed by a doubles victory for him with James gave the home side the lead for the first time on the night. Back came University, however, to level the scores at 4-4 as James fell to his first defeat of the night. At 2-0 up in Match 9 the point needed for promotion looked secure only for Gary to lose the next two ends to once again raise the panic levels. He held his nerve in a tight decider, however, winning 12-10 to give Team 3 the all important 5-4 advantage. Abby then rounded the night off with a win in Match 10 as the home side guaranteed promotion with a 6-4 victory. 2 matches left for Team 3 and a season record of 16 wins, 3 draws and only 1 defeat sees them sit 8 points clear of 3rd place Fife who can no longer mathematically catch them.
Meanwhile at the bottom of the table, Krzysztof Laszkiewicz and Chris Markey called on the services of Vikas Singla from Team 5 as they faced an away match against Murrayfield 6. Starting the night level on points with 2nd bottom West Lothian 5, the away side had targeted this fixture as a possible win to give them some breathing space in their fight for survival. It looked like being a disappointing night after 4 matches as the home side led 3-1 but from that point on the visitors found their form winning the remaining 6 games for an excellent 7-3 win. All three players won 2 singles and Krzysztof combined with Chris for a win in the doubles. Even better news was to follow for Team 4 as the score from West Lothian’s match against Fife filtered through - a 9-1 victory for the Fife side leaves West Lothian two points behind Penicuik 4 with a much worse game difference and only one match to play. Even if West Lothian win their remaining fixture 10-0 and Team 4 were to lose their remaining two games by the same scoreline, results in week 25 have confirmed Team 4’s safety in Division 2.
In Division 3, Penicuik 5’s chances of survival were given a huge boost as they recorded an emphatic win against Corstorphine 5. Vikas Singla, Louis Myatt and Rudolph Andrade were all in excellent form in singles play and Vikas and Rudolph combined for a doubles victory in their 10-0 whitewash win. The Team’s destiny is now in their own hands (and that’s a significant change from the position only some 3 weeks ago). They find themselves level on points with Edinburgh Sports Club 4 and the sides meet in a relegation decider this Monday. Team 5 have the advantage of knowing that because of their superior game difference a draw would be sufficient for them to pull off a remarkable escape.
The battle at the top of Division 4 has boiled up significantly over the last couple of weeks and after Team 7’s surprise win over League leaders Edinburgh University last week it had become a three way battle for promotion between Team 6, University and North Merchiston 6. In yet another twist, North Merchiston surprisingly lost to Murrayfield in Week 25 opening the door for Team 6 (Craig Johnson, Sean Lennon and Stuart Bennett) to leapfrog them into second place in the division if they could win their away fixture at Edinburgh International 5. At 2-2, there was concern that the visitors may let the opportunity slip by. Craig won Match 5 and the turning point of the night was Matches 6 and 7 which both went to 5th end deciders. First Stuart clawed back from a 2-0 deficit to win 11-9 in the fifth and then Sean and Craig in the doubles fixture came back from a 2-1 deficit to win match 7. 5-2 up and a point secured, the visitors didn’t look back winning the remaining 3 games for an excellent 8-2 win. Team 6's night got even better when they heard that for the second week in a row, University failed to secure a point as they fell to a 6-4 loss at the hands of Haddington. Team 6 with one match remaining now sit at the top of the Division 4 table a point clear of both their rivals with one match of the season left!
Penicuik 7 were unfortunately not able to repeat their performance from Week 24 as Rachel Petrie, George Wilson and Lewis Baldock fell to a 7-3 defeat against a two man Fife side. Rachel was particularly unlucky losing Match 1 on the night in a mammoth 5th end by a 16-14 scoreline.
And so to our player of the week award for Week 25. In another terrific week for the Club, the decision this week is a difficult one. Vikas was in the running for his undefeated night in Division 3 and for his contribution to Team 4’s victory. Louis and Rudolph were also undefeated. Given the huge pressure they were under, Krys and Chris are due credit for good performances in their must win game against Murrayfield but for the importance of his undefeated night in a crucial, pressure filled match this week’s winner is Team 6’s Craig Johnson. Well done Craig.
Away from the League, 3 of our players represented Edinburgh in the Inter League Competition at Perth over the weekend. Greig and Colin represented Edinburgh Veterans whilst Abby teamed up with Gillian Edwards in the Women’s Event. All 3 players acquitted themselves well. Greig and Colin with former Penicuik player Martin MacKay were runners-up in a strong Veterans event whilst Gillian and Abby brilliantly defeated West of Scotland in the last match of the event to win the Ladies Title. Well done to them all.
And finally our controversy of the week. Earlier this year our League Match Secretary ruffled some feathers by sending out emails regarding outstanding fixtures and breaches of the rule which states that a postponement MUST be played within 4 playing weeks of the scheduled date. Probably all of those clubs affected at the time have had those matches played. There is an argument that such a rule is not particularly necessary - why does a match have to be played within a set number of weeks? What does make sense though is to have a cut off point for playing outstanding matches. As we sit this evening with five days left of the season there are 9 outstanding fixtures still to be played. Maybe most of them will be played this week? Maybe next week? Who knows? The problem of course is that in matches where there might be promotion or relegation at stake it’s not a very level playing field to have one team playing their last fixture not having a clue what might be needed to ensure they finish above an opponent. Surely it makes sense to have all outstanding fixtures played by no later than the start of the final week of league action - there’s our first proposed rule change for next season!!
And finally, it would be remiss of us not to mention the biggest controversy of the week - needing at least a “XXXL” Edinburgh Team T-shirt, who thought that the “L” version which they brought along to Perth for our Club President at the weekend would ever fit him!! Shocking!!
Only one week left - and two intra club Penicuik fixtures in that last week - we've got our controversy of the week section sorted for next week already!!