Benz-Bavarian Duffield beat University of Birmingham in tonight’s 7th round of the Premier Squash League (PSL) to extend their unbeaten run in the world’s most prestigious squash league this season – and establish an almost unassailable lead at the top of Group A.
It was home wins all round the country – with the Derbyshire club beating Birmingham 4/1 while elsewhere in the GroupCourtcraft Pontefract claimed their first win of the season in a 3/2 victory over Oxford Health & Racquets.
Title-holders Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets maintained their leadership of Group B after beating IGT Winchester 4/1 – but the Croydon club still can’t shake off Exeter Diamonds. Still just five points behind Surrey Health, the Devon team beat Team Chichester 4/1 – while third-placed TWP St George’s Hill slipped further back after only recording a 3/2 win over the hapless UWE Bristol, the Avon side still looking for a first win this season.
There were celebrations even before the battle got underway at Duffield where team number one Nick Matthew was feted for his record-equalling fourth British National Championship title at the weekend. Team stalwarts Joel Hinds,Laurence Delasaux and Andy Whipp quickly ensured a home win – before local heroine Laura Hill squandered a 2/0 lead to hand a consolation win to the opposition’s Welsh international Deon Saffery.
And Matthew did not disappoint, coasting to an 11-5, 11-7, 11-3 win over Birmingham’s Chris Ryder to ensure almost maximum points for the former champions – and a 38-point lead over their nearest rivals.
Oxford Health & Racquets made a good start at Pontefract when Irish star Madeline Perry made up for the disappointment of a semi-final exit at the National Championships in Manchester by beating the Yorkshire hosts’ Vanessa Atkinson in straight games.
But popular home wins by Simon Parke, Lee Beachill and Siddharth Suchde led to celebrations of the club’s maiden PSL win this season – before a tired James Willstrop, runner-up in one of the best Nationals finals ever seen on Sunday, went down in four games to fresh Australian Cameron Pilley.
Comeback queen Alison Waters, runner-up in the women’s nationals in only her first event since undergoing Achilles surgery, led hosts Surrey Health & Racquets to victory with an 11-1, 11-4, 11-3 win in just 19 minutes over Winchester’sLauren Selby.
Daniel West battled to a four-game win over the home team’s experienced Tim Garner to give hope to the visitors – but it was short-lived as Adrian Waller, Simon Rosner and team number one Adrian Grant dropped just one game between them to ensure a sixth win this season for the defending champions.
And despite losing the services of second string Campbell Grayson just hours before the tie (when the Kiwi was refused entry to the country en-route from Finland to New Zealand), Exeter Diamonds quickly restructured the team with the addition of Welsh champion Peter Creed – and set about beating Team Chichester.
Irish international Aisling Blake and James Snell cruised to 3/0 wins for the home side before Creed battled to an 11-7, 14-12, 11-6 win over former Welsh champion Alex Gough to ensure the Exeter victory. But Tim Vail, elevated to Exeter’s No2, went down in an hour to the visitors’ Anthony Graham before the newly-crowned Dutch national champion Laurens Jan Anjema – winner of his seventh successive title in Amsterdam this weekend – beat Robbie Temple 11-9, 11-5, 11-1 to make it 4/1 and keep Exeter in the title race.
St George’s Hill, last season’s runners-up, made a good start against UWE Bristol in their bid to secure a place in the final again this season – Dominique Lloyd-Walter and Charles Sharpes earning straight games victories and top-ranked Hungarian Mark Krajcsak coming through in four to give winning points to the home team.
But Bristol got the upper hand thereafter when Lucas Serme, a Frenchman studying in Bristol, defeated the Weybridge club’s Joe Lee 3/0 and – in a clash described by St George’s team manager Danny Lee as ‘one of the best matches ever seen at the club’ – Egyptian international Mohamed El Shorbagy beat the home team’s top string Daryl Selby 9-11, 13-11, 11-9, 5-11, 15-13 in 65 minutes – saving two match-balls in the dying minutes.
RESULTS: Premier Squash League, 7th round, Tuesday 14 February 2012
Benz-Bavarian Duffield 4 University of Birmingham 1
Nick Matthew bt Chris Ryder 11-5, 11-7, 11-3
Joel Hinds bt Jaymie Haycocks 4-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-9
Andy Whipp bt Jonathan Harford 15-13, 11-2, 11-8
Laurence Delasaux bt Nathan Lake 11-2, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6
Laura Hill lost to Deon Saffery 11-4, 11-8, 3-11, 7-11, 10-12
Courtcraft Pontefract 3 Oxford Health & Racquets 2
James Willstrop lost to Cameron Pilley 7-11, 11-9, 3-11, 2-11
Siddharth Suchde bt Scott Handley 11-9, 11-5, 11-9
Lee Beachill bt Mark Cairns 11-9, 11-7, 11-5
Simon Parke bt Andrew Birks 11-6, 11-4, 3-11, 11-4
Vanessa Atkinson lost to Madeline Perry 10-12, 7-11, 7-11
Exeter Diamonds 4 Team Chichester 1
Laurens Jan Anjema bt Robbie Temple 11-9, 11-5, 11-1 (45m)
Tim Vail lost to Anthony Graham 2-11, 11-8, 12-14, 9-11 (61m)
Peter Creed bt Alex Gough 11-7, 14-12, 11-6 (39m)
James Snell bt Miles Jenkins 11-6, 11-3, 11-1 (22m)
Aisling Blake bt Lauren Briggs 11-7, 11-7, 11-6 (30m)
TWP St George’s Hill 3 UWE Bristol 2
Daryl Selby lost to Mohamed El Shorbagy 11-9, 11-13, 9-11, 11-5, 13-15 (65m)
Joe Lee lost to Lucas Serme 5-11, 5-11, 6-11
Mark Krajcsak bt Arthur Gaskin 11-2, 14-12, 8-11, 11-7
Charles Sharpes bt Tom Ford 11-8, 11-5, 11-5
Dominique Lloyd-Walter bt Anna Kimberley 11-4, 11-5, 11-5
Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets 4 IGT Winchester 1
Adrian Grant bt Jethro Binns 8-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-3 (33m)
Simon Rosner bt Stacey Ross 11-9, 14-12, 11-6 (32m)
Adrian Waller bt Michael Harris 11-7, 11-6, 11-6 (29m)
Tim Garner lost to Daniel West 9-11, 4-11, 11-2, 8-11 (47m)
Alison Waters bt Lauren Selby 11-1, 11-4, 11-3 (19m)
PSL TABLES (after 7th round)
|St George’s Hill||7||5||2||19||16||69||57||94|