Weekend 4 concluded the 2016/17 Senior British League campaign for the debutant side from Lillington comprising five home-grown players in Lee Dorning, Timmy Cooper, Sam Weaving, Sam Wiggins and Tom Brocklehurst. With only a string of unlikely results enabling the side to finish in the medal positions, the focus of the side was on the battle for 3rd and 4th with the final match of the weekend against Ormesby likely to be the deciding fixture.
Before that, though, three other fixtures needed negotiating with table-topping Drumchapel first up. Without their number 1 for the final weekend, on paper the task didn’t look as daunting as it could have. However, the young side from Glasgow continue to improve at an impressive rate and it proved to be far from an easy task.
Cooper came close to getting Lillington off to a winning start, but succumbed to Zaid Khalid 17-15 in the deciding leg, leaving Dorning to level the match with a four leg win over Thomas Cairns. Danny Bajwa defeated Wiggins in straight legs and James Forrest took out Weaving in four. When Dorning and Cooper were blown away 3-0 in the first doubles by Khalid and Bajwa, things looked ominous.
Wiggins and Weaving did well to win their doubles against Cairns and Forrest but although Weaving beat Cairns for a third point, Dorning, Cooper and Wiggins were unable to add to the tally and Drumchapel took a 7-3 victory.
Saturday afternoon’s match was against Bromley and Lillington knew that they could not afford any more slip ups – only wins would be good enough from now on if they were to finish third. Dorning and Cooper were in no mood to hang around and got things off to a good start with wins against Peter Canavan and Jamie Cartwright respectively.
Wiggins then slipped to a four leg defeat at the hands of Mark Nicholls and when Brocklehurst, coming into the side for Weaving, got pegged back by James Johnson in five the match sat level at 2-2.
Dorning and Cooper made their doubles win over Cartwright and Johnson look simple with a quick 3-0 win to put Lillington back in the lead. Wiggins and Brocklehurst then found themselves 2-1 down against Nicholls and Canavan but took the game to a deciding fifth leg. In that leg, they recovered from 9-4 down to pull off a 13-11 win and move the side into a 4-2 lead.
From that point, the match was relatively uneventful for Lillington. Dorning and Wiggins beat Cartwright and Canavan respectively in four legs, before Cooper accounted for Johnson in straight legs and Brocklehurst wrapped up an 8-2 win in similar fashion against Nicholls.
Sunday started with a match against rock bottom Wood Green, with Lillington sat in 4th place. 3rd placed Ormesby faced off against Mount on the adjacent table with a win for Ormesby enough to guarantee them 3rd.
Lillington’s focus was on their own match, though, and they rattled through the first four games with the loss of just one leg. Weaving, Dorning, Brocklehurst and Wiggins rolled through Luke Gittins, Anil Patel, Paresh Patel and Harpal Juttla respectively.
Dorning teamed up with Brocklehurst for the first doubles, against Gittins and Anil Patel and promptly took the game 3-0. Weaving and Wiggins then had a trouble-free encounter with Paresh Patel and Juttla to continue the trend and secure the vital winning point.
Dorning, Weaving and Wiggins all completed their second singles wins, with Brocklehurst falling to the pimples of Juttla which gave a final result of 9-1.
On the table next to them, an epic encounter was going on between Ormesby and Mount. With Mount the underdogs, Lillington were pleased to see them tied at 3-3 after the doubles but although one further win was likely, that wouldn’t be enough to stop Ormesby securing 3rd place. Mount, though, stunned their opponents by reeling off the next three points as they took an unlikely 6-4 win!
With that result, the final match of the season was between Lillington and Ormesby. With the title already decided, the two sides contested another hard fought battle with the last few games being played out after all the other sides had finished and gone home!
Dorning led Lillington out with a comprehensive win over defender Carl White, but the match was turned in favour of Ormesby when David Ashwell came from 2-0 down to beat Cooper 9 in the 5th and Michael Young put paid to Weaving.
Wiggins let a 2-0 lead slip against Peter Wilkinson, but in the deciding leg he dug deep and produced some excellent forehands to win 11-9 and level the match at 2-2.
When Lillington lost both the doubles, it left them 4-2 down and needing to win the remaining four games to win the match and steal 3rd place.
In a nip and tuck encounter, Dorning finally got the better of Ashwell in five legs to pull back the first point. Weaving then faced White and after struggling to cope with the defender in the first leg, completed an exceptional performance to win the next three and level the match.
Cooper got off to a shaky start against Wilkinson having to win two tight legs to take it to a decider, but stayed strong at the business end to win the fifth leg and put Lillington 5-4 ahead.
Wiggins faced the pressure game, needing to beat Young for the victory and 3rd place. Unfortunately, he found Young in inspired form and although he battled valiantly to the end he had no answer to Young’s powerful, short-pimpled backhand and Ormesby grabbed the draw they needed to hold on the 3rd place in the table.
In their debut season at this level, Lillington will be satisfied with a reasonable performance over the course of the year but will have a tinge of regret that they weren’t quite able to stay in the hunt for the medals by taking points off the top two sides. Halton topped the table on 25 points, from Drumchapel on 23. Ormesby took 3rd on countback from Lillington (both 18 points), followed by Mount (14), XLNT Draycott V (9), Bromey (5) and Wood Green II (0).
Lillington’s participation in the Senior British League for the 2016/17 season was greatly assisted by Fulcro, a Bidford-on-Avon based engineering company, who kindly sponsored the side. Fulcro are an innovative, creative engineering team who provide Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Virtual Design and Construction services. Further information is available on their website: http://www.fulcro.co.uk/
Photo – The Lillington FC TTC SBL 2016/17 Team, (L-R) Sam Wiggins, Timmy Cooper, Tom Brocklehurst, Sam Weaving and Lee Dorning.
The Junior Boys team from Lillington Free Church, sponsored by Leamington IT solutions provider NS Optimum, once again made the trip up the M1 to Derby to take part in the Junior British League on 21st/22nd January. After the first of the two weekends of competition, Lillington were placed fifth in the six-team Division 2B with relegation facing the side who finished bottom.
Lillington’s first match of the weekend was against table-topping Halton – no tougher start was possible. Number 1, Timmy Cooper found himself 2-0 down against Halton’s number 2, Connor Whitehead but managed to get in front and pull a leg back. Finding his range and moving his opponent about, Cooper also took the following two legs to put Lillington 1-0 up in the match.
Adam Cofler then faced Halton’s top player, Keir Morton, and was blown away in the first leg, before recovering a little in the second and going on to take the fourth 11-9. A lightning start in the fourth by Morton set the tone and he never looked back, cruising through to level the match.
Jack Green stepped in to the court for Lillington and got an early lead against Harry Watson, before Watson started to steadily peg him back, ultimately nicking the leg 11-9. This was followed by an 11-7 and an 11-6 leg, sending Halton 2-1 up in the match.
From there, it was relatively plain sailing for the top side. Cooper looked sharp in taking the first leg against Morton, but could manage no more, and with Green and Cofler losing to Whitehead and Watson respectively, the match ended in a 5-1 defeat.
Green kicked things off in the match against Kingfisher and looked in good form during the first leg against number 1, Reece Chamdal. Chamdal managed to claw himself level at the death and take the first leg 12-10. Green struggled to put Chamdal under pressure in the second leg and although he returned to his first leg form in the third, the game slipped away 3-0.
It was a similar story for Cooper, who wasn’t able to put opponent Jamie Liu under enough pressure and lost in straight sets, but Lewis Singleton, making his first appearance of the weekend, looked sharp against Joshua Gallen. The players shared the first two legs, but it was Gallen who took the following two.
Cooper lost in four close sets against Chamdal, and Green and Lewis in straight sets against Gallen and Liu. A 6-0 reverse for the second match of the weekend.
Market Rasen were the final opponents on Saturday and with them in second place trying to chase down Halton, they were in no mood to hang around. They rattled off the first three games in straight sets, with Dylan Curry beating Cooper, Sam Chesterman beating Cofler and Tom McIntosh beating Singleton.
The Lillington lads kept fighting, though. Cooper (v Chesterman), Singleton (v Curry) and Cofler (v Mcintosh) all went to four, but with all on the wrong end of the results, the team suffered their second whitewash of the day.
After the results on Saturday, Lillington started Sunday knowing they were just too far adrift of fourth place, so the focus was avoiding bottom place and relegation. First to be faced were the fourth placed Irish Boys and Cooper looked in excellent form as he sped to a 3-0 victory over Art McLaughlin.
Dylan Grace, Dylan Byrne and McLaughlin the put their collective feet down and rattled off the next four games. Grace beat Cofler, Byrne beat Green and Grace returned to the table to beat Cooper in four. McLaughlin accounted for Green, but Cofler overcame a both a first leg and heavy fourth leg defeat to display excellent mettle and beat Byrne deuce in the fifth, limiting the defeat to 4-2 overall.
The final match of the weekend and the season was against bottom-placed Ulster. With Ulster yet to score a point and Lillington on two, a minimum of a draw would guarantee the side avoided relegation. Defeat would leave the two teams tied on two points and the final positions would then be decided based on the number of individual legs won and lost over the whole competition.
Defender, James McGrath, edged Ulster into an early lead with a hard fought win over Green, after which Cooper safely negotiated his way past Matthew Cherry to level.
Singleton was looking confident after levelling at 1-1 against Conor Smith, but the third leg passed him by a little too quickly before Smith took a closer fourth to take the win.
Cooper and McGrath shared the first two legs, both 12-10, but McGrath then got on top and trotted through the next two to move Ulster within one point of victory.
Green came to the table needing to beat Smith to keep the draw alive for Lillington and let an early lead go during the middle of the first leg, losing it 11-8. Green regrouped well and used heavy topspin and the slower ball to great effect, growing in confidence with every point as he took the next three legs to leave the match score at 3-2 to Ulster.
Last to play was Singleton, needing to beat Cherry to grasp a draw. Unfortunately for Lillington it wasn’t to be and Cherry put in a fine performance, taking the game 3-0 and earning Ulster a 4-2 win.
With that last match defeat, Lillington and Ulster were tied on points. Although the Lillington lads had undoubtedly found it tough, their ability to extend their opponents to four and five legs in defeat over the two weekends proved decisive and they ended up avoiding relegation by virtue of this.
Halton finished the competition as champions with 19 out of a possible 20 points. Market Rasen were runners-up on 15, with Kingfisher just pipping Irish Boys to third (both 11 points).
With Lillington losing two of their top juniors this year as they moved into the senior ranks, it was always likely to be a hard season. In a strong looking division, inexperience at this level did them no favours, but the younger members of the squad will have learnt plenty. With relegation avoided, thoughts will now turn to improving before next season.
The club would like to extend a huge thank you to their sponsors, NS Optimum, with their kind donation helping to reduce costs to the players involved.
NS Optimum provides complete IT solutions to small nursery and infant schools right through to colleges, including primary, junior, middle, secondary and independent schools. They are responsible for some of the UK’s largest campus wide school networks providing in many cases a complete managed service.
You can find out more about NS Optimum and the services they provide by visiting their website at www.nsoptimum.co.uk
Pictured – Lillington FC JBL squad members (L-R) Jack Green, Timmy Cooper, Adam Cofler and Lewis Singleton.