North-West Counties : Week 18

Current champions Warrington and challengers Cheetham Hill both scored maximum points  in their pursuit of the coveted NWCSL title.

Andy Whipp reports

Next week sees ‘the showdown’ between the two clubs. A loss for Cheetham would mean their title charge is almost certainly over, whereas a win for the challengers will take the title race down to the wire where every point counts in the last three matches of the season.

Anyway, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Alderley Edge hosted and defeated City Of Manchester 3-2. The COM guru, the ever-eccentric coach Ray Nevin, scored his second win of the season… and what a win it was, defeating Muhammad Azhan Khan 3-2. Azhan was a totally dazed and confused figure in the first, as Ray brought out all of his randomness to maximum effect to bamboozle his opponent.

I can’t say that Azhan settled into his game after the first, but he certainly realised he should expect the unexpected; he dominated for the next two. Alas, Azhan’s all-time enemy began to play his part – fatigue. His wheels dropped off and Ray gladly seized his chance to pounce for the win… and because he won, everyone can forget the fact that he served out twice in a single game!

After some very long early exchanges, Toby Ponting out-rallied a frustrated Adam El Shazly for his second win over the COM No.1 this season. Powerful Pickles was slapping the ball harder and harder as he beat his opponent into quick submission, winning 3-0, a rare feat for Alderley’s Herculean Hero. Steffan ‘Flash Gordon’ Morgan ran his way to victory, clinching the 5 bonus points for the home side. To finish the evening off, COM claimed a 2nd win as Captain Haaris Vine was basically too youthful for the broken-down warrior, Mike Potter.

Alderley Edge 3-2 City of Manchester (17-7)

The two Northern teams experience very similar nights, both losing 5-0 to the aforementioned title hopefuls, Warrington and Cheetham Hill.

At 1 for Warrington was Simon ‘Sherbert’ Herbert. As always, the stringy entertainer was amazing to watch as he beat Ali Khawas 3-0. James ‘The Bricklayer’ Earles scraped through a tricky encounter against Bader Almaghrebi. The second game was huuuuge for Earlsey, as he saved 3 game balls to prevent going 2-0 down. After that he dominated with his phenomenal back-hand lobs and forehand volley drops.

Lewis Doughty also came through a tough encounter against Josh Owen. Josh has beautiful touch into the front corners, but Lewis’ steady pressure eventually told for a good 3-1 win. Emily Whitlock and Ollie Hudson mopped up the lower order.

Northern II 0-5 Warrington (3-20)

Cheetham Hill were boosted by the return of their home-grown talent, Finnlay Withington, as he flew back from Calgary to help his team out. Finn, along with his teammates Jordan Hardwick, Josh Taylor, Stephen Hearst and Henry Beach bossed the show as The Northern First team were comfortably tossed aside.

Cheetham Hill 5-0 Northern I (20-2)

Wrexham welcomed Grove Park, and there was an intriguing contest at No.1, with 19-year-old Welsh Olympic hopeful, Rhys Evans up against the Welsh number two, Emyr Evans. Rhys won his fist PSA tournament at the weekend at the East Glos Open, while Emyr, like Finn Withington, had just flown back from Canada. Emyr perfectly showed the skill and experienced required to back up a tough tournament schedule, with a deadly display of squash to beat his compatriot 3-0.

Emyr and his sister Tesni were on opposing teams tonight as Tes was playing for Wrexham. She lost out to the prolific Instagram influencer Will Salter. Will was simply too solid and strong, even for Tesni’s silky racket skills. The whole match-up was tough one for the Welsh Wizards as Grove Park took a 19 out of the possible 20 points, with Wrexham’s only win coming from the ‘senior’ Jon Davies.

Wrexham 1-4 Grove Park (3-19)

The final match to report on was Wigan vs Liverpool. George Parker had too much athleticism and class for an improving Mason Smales. Liverpudlian Lewis almost had a great victory against Ben Hetherington. Ben raced to a two-love lead, and after somehow scraping the third game, Lewis gained momentum to force a fifth game. The Wigan crowd were getting nervous, but Lewis ran out of steam and the smiley Ben prevailed. Cory Harding almost had to play a fifth game against Wigan stalwart Ryan Atherton, but after Ryan trickle boasted at his own head at 10-9 in the 4th, Cory was awarded a ‘stroke’ and could sigh a breath of relief.

There is no doubting Connor Sheen’s skill levels, but his fitness can come into question these days! Nat Fairhurst wasn’t too worried when he went 2-0 down, and after winning the third, the comeback looked inevitable. Nat was a point away from the fifth game when he led 10-7, but a bit of a ‘bottle job’ took place as Connor fought his way back courtesy of a few Nat Fairhurst tins. Connor used his expertise to win the all-important 4th game, handing Nat his second defeat of the season. The last match saw a struggling Tim Herron get bashed off the court by Adam Pritchard, which meant Liverpool took the match 4-1.

Wigan 1-4 Liverpool (5-19)

Overall, another top night of squash across the North West, and social media is already getting revved up for the top-of-the-table clash next week.

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