Penicuik 1 were drawn at home against Corstorphine 2 in Round 1. Potential controversy was averted after Corstorphine failed to turn up on the scheduled Wednesday night having seemingly never received email confirmation of the match as it was agreed at haste to play the match the next night. Team 1 was made up of Brian Bailey (-1), Clive Liddiard (-4) and Sean Lennon (+7) and they faced JP Smith (Scratch), Tom Wallace (-3) and Tommy Sutherland (+7). At 2-0 down the home side looked in trouble but Sean got them on the scoreboard with an important win in match 3 against Tommy. Match 4 was to prove crucial between Clive and JP with Clive giving his opponent a 4-0 start to 15. It looked plain sailing for Clive with wins in the first two ends but back came JP to win the next 2. In the deciding 5th end, the handicaps were proven to be accurate as the match went the distance with Clive edging it 15-13 to level the match scores at 2-2. With further wins for Sean and Clive the hosts led 4-3 going into match 8 of the night as Sean took on JP. Sean, making his debut in the Competition, was the difference between the teams on the night, as he romped home in three straight ends to give the home side an excellent 5-3 win. Sean won all 3 of his singles matches and Clive won 2.
Penicuik 2 saw Phil Daly (+5) combine with two players from Division 4, Craig Johnson (+7) and Stuart Bennett (+7) as they faced a trip to Haddington who also had a team of high handicaps with their three players being +4, +6 and +7. This match was more like an ordinary League match which probably didn't help the Penicuik trio. At 2-1 down, Craig took on his opposite number in what turned out to be the closest and most crucial match of the night. From 2 ends to 1 down, Craig did well to level the game with a terrific 11-3 win in end 4 but he was unable to secure a win in the deciding end as he lost out by the narrowest of margins 11-9. That gave the home side a 2 match advantage which they would never lose. On the night Phil was by far the best player for visitors, winning all 3 of his singles matches, but neither Craig nor Stuart were able to support him as Team 2 went down to a 5-3 defeat.
The draw was somewhat unkind to the Club in that it pitted Penicuik 3 against Penicuik 4 in Round 1. It was no surprise that Greig (-13), Iain (-8) and Abby (-2) were again selected to play this season as Penicuik 3. Challenging them as Penicuik 4, was John Bald (+3), Martyn Levy (+6) and Luke Hennessey (+6).
The 3rd team quickly went 2-0 up as Abby secured a 4 end victory against John and then Greig overcame a 0-19 deficit to defeat Martyn in 3 ends. The next 4 matches were shared. Luke always looked dangerous with a +6 handicap and so it proved as he defeated Iain and Abby to cut the deficit to 4-2. Match 7 saw Luke take on Greig and when Greig won the first end 24-22 it looked like the match was going to be over. Young Luke had other ideas, however, as he played positive table tennis to win the next 3 ends thus keeping his team in contention at 4-3 down going into the final two matches of the night. With time running out, both matches were played simultaneously with Iain taking on John whilst Abby faced Martyn. Iain looked in complete control as he won the first two ends but back came John to win the next two and the match was on a knife edge. Meanwhile, Abby and Martyn had shared the first 4 ends of their match. Greig looked very nervous trying to keep an eye on both the final end shootouts to decide who would progress to Round 2. In the tightest of finishes, both Abby and Iain just got over the line in their deciding fifth ends, 19-17 and 13-11 respectively to secure victory for the 2013/14 Champions by a 6-3 scoreline.
So two teams through to Round 2 and probably time to throw into the mix some of the Club's other youngsters with high handicaps.
In the League, Team 2 of James Wighton, Gary Mcdougall and Abby Wighton caught up on one of their outstanding fixtures as they travelled to take on Edinburgh International 3. A difficult start to the season for last year's Division 2 Champions continued as only James managed to get on the scoreboard with a victory against Ken Benjamin in a disappointing 9-1 defeat. Their match in Week 8 against the team just above them in the League, Edinburgh International 4 now takes on even greater significance.
Controversy of the Week this week? Almost a fallout between Brian and Clive's team and Corstorphine (have Brian and Clive ever been the subject of controversy before - surely not!!) - but resolved in a sporting fashion by agreeing to play the match the night after it ought to have been. Blame must rest a little bit with the league - las year it was clear that the Handicap Cup games were to be played (unless otherwise agreed) on the normal home night of the home team - that at least provided certainty as to what was happening. For some reason this year we appear to have fallen back into the way of previous seasons where the home team should propose a day during the handicap Cup week but we are still told that the Cup games should be played in that week! For clubs like ours who only have limited access to premises this doesn't really seem to make sense. Anyway, alls well that ends well!
And finally the Player of the week award this week was between three players. Young Luke Hennessey and the not so young Phil Daly were most definitely in the running for their maximums in losing sides, but because his wins helped his team to victory, the award goes to Sean Lennon, without whom the Club would have been down to only one team through to Round 2 of the Cup. El Presidente takes all the credit for Sean's 3 wins as a result of knocking up with him over the last couple of weeks and boosting his confidence by giving him handicap games which he's won at a canter!! Well done Sean.