Mens 2 v Graves (A) - 16/10/13

A second successive full strength team for Mens 2 in the rarified air of Division 3, saw us take on long term rivals Graves away from home. Graves also appeared to have a full strength team, unlike their victory at ours last season when the captain and another player were absent. It had all the hallmarks of a classic encounter, which is how it turned out.

A gamble from Steve saw him negotiate a 45 minute delay for pair 3, as Deepak didn’t finish work until 8pm and Mrs K was drafted in as a reservist to ferry him to the venue. The hall at Graves seems to have thin air because the shuttle flies for miles, every year causing us problems with judgement. The lighting is also difficult because each court has a different level of brightness, but with Ecclesfield and the curtain in mind, best not to grumble! Steve did though whip off his tinted glasses mid-way through the first end in a bid to see the yellow shuttle, a risk for him in more ways than one!
 
Ravi and Jethron took on the top pair first, a classic pair of “modern” badminton players, with great defence, rotation and front and back positioning when attacking. They also have a great kill to add insult to injury and are a long established pair, so tend to be a prize scalp! Our boys took the first end 23-21 but Graves came back and took the second end 21-15, then the third 21-16. At the same time Steve and Ben took on the second pair in semi-darkness. Graves got off to a stormer with your author by way of honesty having a shocker, but Ranmoor came back and in the end Graves squeezed home 21-18. The second end was more nip and tuck, with the Graves pair planted to sides with a “thou shalt not pass” attitude, repelling all attempts at smash and drive winners, and reaching most drops. Pair 2 at home last season had a stand in for their captain, and was the one where Steve and Jethron had a bizarre 21-2 win, but this was a different proposition with their leader back, and they won the 2nd end 21-17. Two nil to Graves.
 
Deepak then made his appearance and a quick reshuffle of opponents on the three courts allowed him some warm up time. The great man and Clive took on the top pair who were very savvy at keeping the shuttle in the right places on the court, and the home team won 21-13 and 21-15. Then things began to turn Ranmoor’s way. Steve and Ben took on the third pair, and despite letting them back in with a few points in each end at the death, eased past them 21-14 and 21-19. Jethron and Ravi took on the second pair, and fared better than the first game, winning 21-18 and 22-20 in a tight classic that had some incredible defence from our boys, again proving they are a good pair together. Deepak and Clive then moved quickly onto the third pair, and despite some nervy moments came through in straight ends, 21-19 and 21-18. All of a sudden, it was three rubbers all!
 
As expected, Ravi and Jethron beat the third pair with two comfortable ends, sandwiched either side of an adverse 21-17 loss that meant it went to three. One more point was needed. Steve and Ben were the bookmaker’s underdogs against the top pair, who played classic front and back badminton and eased into a solid lead in the first end. In desperation, Steve started to play around with his serves, with a short serve into the body of one player combined with a flick over the shoulder of the other, and the match started to turn our way, we clawed our way back into it and took the end to a tiebreak. Another flick serve 2 inches wide though at 20-20 gave Graves the impetus, and they took the end with another mistake from us, a misjudged line call. The second end was another classic, but despite there never being more than 2 points in it, Ranmoor were never ahead, and a second tiebreak went Graves way 21-19, meaning the final match of the night was the decider.
 
Deepak and Clive pushed the second pair very close, but lost the first end 21-17 with most smashes coming back deep and some hats off top quality defence from that stubborn pair. In the second end, Graves went into a strong lead, and as the adrenalin dropped they eased to a 21-7 win, to take the match. Well done to our opponents, this was our best performance at this venue, but we still just failed to get over the line. And thank you too for the courtesy shown, before and during the evening. We look forward to hosting you in our final match of the season.
Men of the Match goes to Ravi and Jethron, winning two rubbers and an end, and well done too to Ben, scoring at least 17 points in each end and playing his best stuff yet! This is a high quality division, with only 3 other club's second teams at this level or higher, but we have every chance of remaining in it with the speed we are improving!!