NWCSL Week 19 : The Big Showdown

Last night was the big title-deciding showdown between defending 7-time champions Warrington, and worthy challengers Cheetham Hill.

The crowd was filled to the rafters, as 150 people crammed themselves into the Warrington squash arena, anticipating a terrific night of squash – and that is exactly what they got.

During the introductions it was clearly obvious why these two teams are competing at the top of the table – the records of all the regulars are impeccable. For Cheetham, Josh Taylor was unbeaten all season, and Henry Beach had only lost once in 16 matches. Warrington’s Lewis Doughty and Charlie Cowie had also only lost once, and that loss came at the hands of Cheetham Hill in November. Adrian Waller has only lost twice in 6 years for Warrington, with one of those losses coming this season in November, yes you guessed it, against Cheetham Hill!

On the side court we had Charlie vs Henry starting us off. Who would be adding a second loss of the season to their record? The match swung like a theme park pirate ship – Charlie would win a game, and then lose the next easily (I’m sure he would call it ‘a tactical rest’!). Inevitably the two guys were embroiled in a fifth game. A few traffic issues but essentially Charlie had too much accuracy on the backhand side to comfortably claim the final game 11-4. Charlie had actually arrived at 5am that morning from a skiing holiday, a fact he conveniently forgot to mention to his manager before the match!

Following these two was a very 50/50 looking contest between Ollie Hudson and Stephen Hearst. Both sporting a very squeaky pair of shoes, at times this was like watching two guinea pigs go head-to-head. From the get-go all four corners were being constantly used, especially by Stephen. Ollie was on fire though, moving better than we’ve seen all season, and was too fast and too powerful for his Northern Irish opponent, winning a mightily impressive 3-0. Ollie obviously feeling the pressure to remain the best squash player in his household as his 11-year-old son, Charlie is quickly moving up the ranks and is looking to displace his old man!

The show court matches kicked off with a tense affair between Lewis Doughty and unbeaten Josh. Josh showed his intentions early on as he hit a few lovely, long backhand drops, but he was constantly pegged back by the exceptional length hitting from Legendary Lewis. Lewis wasn’t using the front of the court much, but still played superb, aggressive squash. Hitting powerful volleys and drives, he actually notched up 6 winners from perfect lengths in the first game alone. The second followed a similar pattern; with the score being very close the whole way until Josh led 10-7. Lewis dug deep and fought his way to win the game on a tie-break. Josh started to pull out some unusual antics, and managed to shorten the rallies and won the third game comfortably. Not getting involved in anything which could distract him, Lewis kept his cool and remained level-headed throughout, which saw him pull away from 5-5 in the fourth game, to clinch the game 11-5 and the match. A perfectly mature and accomplished performance by Dangerous Doughty.

Adrian Waller made short work of Jordan Hardwick, as Jordan went for too many winners, especially off the return of serve. Adrian is one of the tidiest players you could ever watch, and he was too controlled and accurate for Jordan.

The final match for our high-spirited crowd was coach vs apprentice, Miles Jenkins vs World No.9 Joel Makin. Miles is considerably better than his highest ranking of 103 in the World, and boy did he show that last night. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that Joel won 3-0, he is simply awesome; his shot quality and retrievals were too good for Miles, but Miles played really, really well. Our crowd were extremely impressed with his style and how he fought for every point, and the two exchanged some brutal rallies (with Joel smiling through most of them – he loves to run!).

So, a phenomenal night of squash with an amazing crowd, and a satisfying 5-0 for Warrington as they (all-but) clinch the title.

Warrington 5-0 Cheetham Hill (20-3)

Elsewhere City Of Manchester took advantage of a very weak Wrexham to move within 4 points of their opponents in the battle to avoid bottom place. Grove Park had a very strong team out to beat Wigan 5-0, which basically guarantees a third-place finish for team from Cheadle Hulme.

At No.1, Temwa won the kiwi battle as he defeated compatriot Mason Smales. Temwa being too quick and accurate for his big-footed opponent. Grove were also helped out with the services of South African Dewald Van Niekerk for only the third time this season. Wigan’s Ryan Atherton loves a 3-2 battle almost as much as he loves a backhand flick, but he succumbed 11-9 in the fifth to the ever-entertaining Luke McFarland. League chairman Yawar Abbas also battled and grunted his way to very tight 3-2 win.

City of Manchester 5-0 Wrexham Brymbo (20-4)

The Liverpool crowd are a true gem of our league, making an away trip to Liverpool a tricky affair. When they’re boosted by one or both of George Parker or Lwamba at No.1, they are a particularly formidable team to play.

Last night they had George available who beat Northern 2’s Ali Khawas 3-0, with his athletic prowess far too much for the Egyptian. Liverpudlian local Lewis Harding had a brilliant win at No.2, beating Bader Almaghrebi 3-1, but younger brother Cory lost to Josh Owen 3-1. Josh has outrageously good touch at the front of the court, which is tough to play against.

At No.4, Connor Sheen managed to sneak in a bagel in his match (I mean an 11-0 game, he wasn’t munching on an actual bagel in-between games!), and The Northern’s coach Jules Silvera won against the hard-hitting monster, Adam Pritchard at No.5.

Liverpool 3-2 Northern II (15-8)

Finally, Bowdon got back to winning ways after a couple of losses, as they travelled to Didsbury to play The Northern 1st Team. Elliot Morris Devred has been busy of late, playing a few PSA tournaments, but went about his business in a machine-like fashion to get The Northern’s only win of the night, beating Matt Gregory 3-0.

Bowdon have tremendous strength in depth and were too strong for The Northern. Charles Keeble seems happier playing at No.3 rather than at 1 as he won convincingly. The Ince’s have been great signings for Bowdon this season, and Daniel once again proved his worth beating Manchester student Josh Morris. Old favourites Pete Billson and Nick Murrils helped to complete the victory.

The Northern I 1-4 Bowden (6-17)

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