Mens 2 v Drone (H) - 21/10/13

Mens 2 welcomed the Drone, a side who have narrowly failed to win promotion for each of the last 2 seasons after ploughing their trade at a higher level prior to that. A game against players with decades of serious badminton experience was also going to be tough but as with last year when the Drone turned up three men down from their first team, this time they were two short, so we had a chance (unlike the away whitewash last year).
 
Richard for Clive, who sat this one out after suffering a “Sam knee press” in earlier weeks, was the only change, with Jethron and Ravi continuing their long standing love affair and Steve and Ben continuing to groom a new partnership. It turned out that the third pair, containing their captain of last year who missed the game at Ranmoor, was the best pair. They breezed past Steve and Ben, did the same to Ravi and Jethron after an initial struggle in the first end, then beat Rich and Deepak to 12 in the first end before a herculean effort from our boys saw them edged 24-22 in the second end – Deepak’s first tie break loss this season in 4 games, a stat we like with the team having 6 wins and 9 losses by 2 points for Ranmoor this season, better than last!
 
The match was likely to be decided between the other 6 games, with a merger of two of their normal pairs including their current year captain, and two stand ins playing as a pair. Ravi and Jethron lost the first end but won the second against the first pair, only to lose 21-9 in the third. Their matches against the second pair were also value for money, winning the first to 18, and losing the second, by the same margin. The third end was a cleaner affair, with Ranmoor winning it 21-11 to retain hope, grabbing a rubber on the night for Ravi and Jethron.
 
Deepak and Rich had an even tighter game in their first outing against the second pair, winning to 16 before losing to 12, and facing a final end tie break. Despite tie breaks being as welcome as the flu at Ranmoor, our boys kept their heads and bided their time before a mid court smash presented itself, perfect tie break tactics, and another rubber to Ranmoor. Against the top pair there was an easy win to 11 followed by a revenge end by the same scoreline, before desperation to get value for money for the two £4 payers saw them battle out a third end before winning to 16 – a third rubber to Ranmoor.
 
Steve and Ben, scarred from having to take on the best pair first, moved onto the second pair, with tactics and prior knowledge saw them easily win the first end, with only a late flurry from Drone seeing them get to 21-8. The second end started a bit nip and tuck, getting to 4-4, before it erupted into controversy with a running dispute over who should do the scoring, normally the home team’s responsibility.  This was where we made a mistake, as we should have appointed an umpire to allow focus to remain on the game. A line call by Ben deep in Ranmoor’s court caused things to boil over completely, ironically one that was further out than many others in the same game which had resulted in good sportsmanship from both sides. Anger went up and focus went down, and we stopped playing attacking badminton, letting Drone back into the game, and despite being 17-14 up we lost the end 21-17. Despite matters getting worse at the changeover, with no kisses and cuddles on display from either side, the third end was a tremendous battle, with sportsmanship resuming with some tremendous honesty from both sides, sadly Steve and Ben’s tactics did not resume, and we again lost to 17. But well done to all four players for letting badminton be the final winner.
 
Ranmoor decide gagging and restraining Ben is the best tactic....
 
The boys would not be denied though before getting their monies worth from playing their usual tie break point. Unfortunately against the top pair, we had 6 of them, being 20-18 up before our usual poor shot choice gifting our opponent the end, 23-21. Adrenalin then began to sap as the match had gone by now, and the second end was lost to 14.
 
So as with last season it was a 6-3 win to the Drone, having a pair who won all three games was too much to overcome, but despite another defeat there were some reassuring signs, none more so than Richard and Deepak who were a bit up and down but had the power to take 2 rubbers, along with our men of the match award! Two of this six will be missing for our next game, away at another of the favourites Beaver Hill (everyone seems to be a favourite this season, it could be tight at the top). Steve and Ben will have plenty of practice by then, with a game in Division 1 next week to give their confidence a boost……not!