NWCSL : Warrington unstoppable with a week to go

Last night was a massive night at the top and bottom of the table. In the penultimate week of matches, we had both ends of the table decided, and it’s Warrington and The Northern Second team who are celebrating this morning.

Warrington came through a very tough contest against Grove Park to officially win the league with a week remaining. We’ll come back to this.

The Northern 2 faced relegation rivals City of Manchester in a winner-takes-all contest. After spending the whole of the season rooted to the bottom of the table, COM have been racking up the points over the last month and have since overtaken Wrexham and left themselves within touching distance of The Northern 2 for the all-important third from bottom position (with the bottom two getting relegated).

Our league is very tough at the top and all 11 teams have at least one very good, highly World Ranked No.1 – The Northern’s Ali Khawas, who has the potential to beat top players, has been struggling of late and was on a 7-match losing streak – but thankfully for his team, he got back to winning ways by beating Manchester’s funky-haired Aaron Allpress, in a tremendously exciting match, played between two all-or-nothing type of players.

City Of Manchester were revived with two truly fantastic performances from Seif Heikal and Ray Nevin, both upsetting the form-book by beating Josh Owen and Luis North respectively. Seif in-particular dug as deep as he could when he beat Josh Owen after going 2-0 down. A phenomenal comeback to try to salvage league safety for his team. He really got his teammates pumping after his win.

Sadly, for Seif’s team, the Northern captain Jules Silvera Abbas beat Daniel Sau at No.4 and then Max Gibbs played the match of his life to beat COM captain Haaris Vine 11-9 in the 5th. This match, and therefore Division One survival was decided by the finest of margins – you literally couldn’t write this kind of tension and excitement!

In theory, COM can overtake The Northern 2 next week, as The Northern 2 have finished their matches 20 matches. COM sit 13 points behind The Northern 2 with 20 points available next week, but…. unfortunately, that seems unlikely as they travel to play champions Warrington – but there’s still hope and anything’s possible….

City of Manchester 2-3 The Northern 2 (10-17)

Before we get to the top of the table, we’ll fill in the other matches last night.

Wrexham had an important win against The Northern First Team, with wins from Rhys Evans, Tesni Murphy and Will Silvester. The 15 points they earned is not enough to save them from possible relegation as they sit 21 points away from safety, but a strong performance next week could see them overtake COM.

The Northern 1 2-3 Wrexham Brymbo (8-15)

Alderley Edge had a comfortable night against a weak Bowdon. Alderley have the chance to climb up one or two places next week, while Bowdon are already guaranteed a mid-table finish.

Bowden 1-4 Alderley Edge (4-17)

Cheetham Hill were helped by the late withdrawal of Liverpool’s Lwamba Chileshe, which helped them to a 3-2 win, with special mention to Stephen Hearst again, who won the match for his team with an unexpected 3-0 win against Cory Harding.

Liverpool 3-2 Cheetham Hill

Grove Park fielded their strongest team of the season with all three of their super-stars turning out against Warrington, trying their best to delay the title-winning party. Their line-up was Emyr Evans, Temwa Chileshe, Dewald van Nierkerk, Luke McFarland and Ky Hibberd. Warrington had Joel Makin, Ben Smith, Lewis Doughty, Ollie Hudson and Emily Whitlock.

Much of the night was taken up with the Dewald vs Lewis match, as both players looked willing to chip the ball up and down the backhand wall all evening if required. Dewald was a little more clinical when he did get the opportunity to play a straight drop, which gave him the small edge in each game. He has proven himself to be a great signing for Grove Park as he has now won all 5 of his matches without dropping a game!

Emily and Joel Makin got the champions in front, before Luke McFarland survived a fightback from Ollie, to level the tie at 2-all. The home crowd were anticipating an epic fight between Temwa and Ben to see who would take the deciding match. Unfortunately for Grove, Ben is in great form and was too skilful and controlled for their ever-reliable Kiwi. Ben took a mightily impressive 3-0 to clinch the title for his team. When Ben hit the final winning cross-court drive, Warrington sponsor Alan Edge jumped with joy, almost bonking his head on the ceiling!

Grove Park 2-3 Warrington (7-15)

For the last match of the season next week, City Of Manchester are welcomed to Warrington, and to celebrate Warrington’s 8th successive league title, all supporters will receive some top-quality food and a free drink from the bar, all courtesy of Sponsor Alan Edge and his company, EWL Logistics.

I look forward to updating you all on the last round of matches next week, and to conclude another fabulous season in the North West Counties Squash League.

Andy Whipp

Latest Division One Table (full tables and results for all divisions)