The headline is almost the same as last week except we only had two matches this week compared to four last week. The two matches that took place were Fenton “A” vs Crewe “A” in division 1 on Monday and Crewe vs Alsager in the Intermediate Cup (U130) Quarter-Final.
The “A” team arrived at Fenton to find our rivals without two of their top three players, so on paper we were favourites to win this battle for the Division 1 Wooden Spoon. As we all know results are not dictated purely by grades, and we soon found ourselves 1-0 down as Julian Hawthorne profited from a blunder on bd 5 to give Fenton an early lead. Worse was to follow as the hosts Steve Emmerton won the exchange before winning against the grades on board 4. What looked to be at least a draw on board 1 with an exchange advantage for a pawn, turned out not be so and it was 3-0 to Fenton as Petru Floresc won the board 1 game. With the match already settled David Hulme threw caution to the wind and picked up a very fortunate win following a time induced blunder on bd 3 to reduce the deficit to 1-3. Captain Karl Lockett added a bit more respectability to the scoreboard with another point to finish the match 2-3. This result left us as clear favourites for the wooden spoon as we look forward to the toughest challenge of all next time when we face Holmes Chapel “A”.
Wednesday night saw our U130 Cup Team start their campaign as Cup Holders. With grade advantages on every board (some insignificant and others not so) we would have been favourites. An early attack from Rick the “grenade” Renegade blasted open the doors to the first victory on board 2. Neville Layhe provided solidity on top board to get the draw that helps towards any tie-break scenario. Captain Dave Price (on bd3) offered a draw but the offer was declined. Not long after Dave had a back row mate, making the score 2.5 – 0.5, allowed us guaranteed progress to the semi-final. Shortly after Julian Bulbeck delivered another back-rank knockout on bd 5 as we led 3.5-1.5. Alsager’s James Marshall gained a consolation win for the visitors on bd 4. Crewe will face a trip to Fenton in the semi-final in due course.