The East Midlands derby between Benz-Bavarian Duffield and MB Nottingham produced the upset of the night in the eighth round of the Premier Squash League (PSL) when Nottingham inflicted the first defeat of the season on their Derbyshire rivals to boost their chances of a place in the end-of-season semi-final play-offs of the world’s most prestigious squash league.
With BBC East Midlands TV cameras covering the dramatic action, hosts Duffield established an early lead courtesy of world number one Nick Matthew. The Yorkshireman was fully tested, however, before beating the visitors’ top string Chris Simpson 11-6, 11-9, 10-12, 11-8.
Nottingham struck back with wins by Emma Beddoes and Mark Fuller, though the 26-year-old from Nottingham had to call upon all his experience to see off Duffield debutant Ashley Davies, the recently-crowned British U17 champion, in five games.
And it was Lewis Walters who clinched victory for Nottingham when he beat Laurence Delasaux 11-9, 8-11, 14-12, 11-5 to give the club its first win over Duffield for more than two years.
The win moves Nottingham into second place in the Group A tables, ahead of rested rivals Oxford Health & Racquets – whom they will meet in the tenth and final round on 27 March in a likely showdown for the runners-up position in the group, and a place in the semi-finals.
The other Group A clash saw Courtcraft Pontefract move off the bottom of the tables for the first time in the season after beating University of Birmingham 3/2 away from home. India’s returning star Dipika Pallikal marked her first PSL appearance for more than two years by beating the hosts’ Welsh international Deon Saffery in four games – and later wins by Simon Parke and Saurav Ghosal sealed the Yorkshire club’s second win of the season.
But a tired Pontefract number one James Willstrop was unable to reproduce the form which saw him lift the North American Open trophy at the weekend – success which will take him to the top of the world rankings in March. The Leeds-based England international went down in straight games to Birmingham stalwart Chris Ryder as the home team salvaged a consolation point at the end of the evening.
Title-holders Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets stayed on course to win Group B after crushing Team Chichester5/0 away from home – but, as in the other group, the greater interest is perhaps in the race for second place.
The Croydon club took a near full-strength squad to the south coast venue – and Peter Barker, Adrian Grant, Alan Clyne, Adrian Waller and Alison Waters came away with maximum points, dropping just three games in the process.
But it was in Devon that the key action was taking place – where second-placed Exeter Diamonds were hoping to record their second win of the season over last year’s runners-up TWP St George’s Hill.
But after establishing an early lead when Irish international Aisling Blake beat the visitors’ Dominique Lloyd-Walter, Exeter fell away as the Weybridge club’s big guns Joe Lee, Nicolas Mueller, Tom Richards and finally team number oneDaryl Selby set about overcoming their opposition to close out the tie 4/1.
The win takes St George’s Hill above Exeter into second place in the Group B tables – with just two points now separating the two clubs.
Elsewhere in the group, UWE Bristol failed to record their first win of the season after going down 3/2 at home to IGT Winchester. Stacey Ross, Daniel West and Lauren Selby steered Winchester to their hard-fought win – but it was the final match of the day that stole the avid attention of the Avon crowd as UWE students and Egyptian brothersMohamed El Shorbagy and Marwan El Shorbagy battled for family supremacy.
Mohamed, the 21-year-old world No8, was favourite to win – but 18-year-old Marwan, ranked just 35 places lower, was not prepared to cave in, and stretched his more experienced sibling to four games before Mohamed ultimately prevailed 12-10, 12-10, 4-11, 11-6 to give the home side its second consolation point.
RESULTS: Premier Squash League, 8th round, Tuesday 28 February 2012
Benz-Bavarian Duffield 2 MB Nottingham 3
Nick Matthew bt Chris Simpson 11-6, 11-9, 10-12, 11-8
Andy Whipp bt Shaun le Roux 7-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-4
Laurence Delasaux lost to Lewis Walters 9-11, 11-8, 12-14, 5-11
Ashley Davies lost to Mark Fuller 11-9, 5-11, 11-7, 13-15, 4-11
Laura Hill lost to Emma Beddoes 6-11, 5-11, 6-11
University of Birmingham 2 Courtcraft Pontefract 3
Chris Ryder bt James Willstrop 11-5, 11-5, 11-8
Jaymie Haycocks lost to Saurav Ghosal 8-11, 6-11, 0-11
Jonathan Harford bt Lee Beachill 9-11, 11-4, 11-3, 11-4
Chris Truswell lost to Simon Parke 3-11, 7-11, 9-11
Deon Saffery lost to Dipika Pallikal 5-11, 12-10, 5-11, 8-11
Exeter Diamonds 1 TWP St George’s Hill 4
Tim Vail lost to Daryl Selby 11-13, 11-5, 7-11, 3-11 (43m)
Peter Creed lost to Tom Richards 10-12, 6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 3-11 (63m)
James Snell lost to Nicolas Mueller 12-14, 6-11, 6-11 (37m)
Lyell Fuller lost to Joe Lee 4-11, 5-11, 12-14 (46m)
Aisling Blake bt Dominique Lloyd-Walter 11-5, 8-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-6 (55m)
UWE Bristol 2 IGT Winchester 3
Mohamed El Shorbagy bt Marwan El Shorbagy 12-10, 12-10, 4-11, 11-6
Arthur Gaskin bt Jethro Binns 11-6, 11-2, 12-10
Tom Ford lost to Stacey Ross 6-11, 10-12, 11-8, 12-10, 10-12
Peter Joyce lost to Daniel West 14-12, 11-7, 9-11, 8-11, 6-11
Rebecca Quiney lost to Lauren Selby 2-11, 7-11, 1-11
Team Chichester 0 Integrity Surrey Health & Racquets 5
Robbie Temple lost to Peter Barker 12-14, 5-11, 7-11
Olivier Pett lost to Adrian Grant 11-5, 8-11, 4-11, 11-9, 9-11
Anthony Graham lost to Alan Clyne 10-12, 10-12, 3-11
Alex Gough lost to Adrian Waller 11-9, 3-11, 8-11, 5-11
Lauren Briggs lost to Alison Waters 1-11, 5-11, 3-11
PSL TABLES (after 8th round)
|St George’s Hill||8||6||2||23||17||83||63||113|