Comb 1 v Notts Northern (H) - 28/4/14

The final game of the season came around for combined 1 in the form of a home fixture against Notts Northern. We had missed out to them away from home in a tight 5-4 defeat with Karen and Rich losing a rare mixed game in the final rubber of the night after a three ender 21-19! We knew we could get close again and even fancied edging the fixture on home turf. All nominated ladies were present and just Mark missing from the nominated guys, with Arun getting his second call up at number 1 to line up alongside Rich and Sam.

Notts Northern got off to a good start taking the opening ends of both the ladies and mens against Helen and Claire and Arun and Sam respectively. Our pairs fought back in their second ends to take both ties to a third. The ladies missed out in their decider to 17 whilst the boys came up in the dying seconds to take a 21-19 deciding end, with some now trademark Arun vocal ferocity.

Next up Helen and Karen lost out in 2 ends although they managed 23 points in the first end! Arun and Rich took their first end comfortably to 13 before having a closer end to 19, wrapping up the second win for Ranmoor and 2-2 heading into the mixed match ups.

Claire and Sam won the first end against their counterparts 22-20 before really working out a strategy and taking the second end to 9! Meanwhile Karen and Rich were taking a straight ends game to 13 and 5. 4-2 Ranmoor and just 1 needed from the final 3!

Arun and Helen looked like they’d take the deciding points when they won their first end to 14. A second end turned into a real classic and was taken 25-23 by our opponents, the second time that scoreline had occurred that night and sadly the second time we had missed out in an end than could go either way. Their decider was won to 18 by Notts which kept them in the match with 2 to play.

Next on were Rich and Karen who found some real difficulties with their final mixed pair who had some very deceptive shots which stopped either of them anticipating where the shuttle was going, which is basically their entire strategy! Sam watched on, knowing that if they lost he would have to go on and play the final game with Claire as a match decider, and knowing that a win would potentially keep us in the league and that defeat would certainly see us relegated. All this on top of nursing a shoulder injury due to crashing his tractor whilst trying to rescue another tractor….oh the irony!

Sam’s concerns were calmed slightly when Rich and Karen managed to edge the first end to 19. At the change of ends they decided that it would be useful to stand still until the opponent actually hit the shuttle, that way seeing where it went rather than just moving in the direction they were trying to sell us! This paid great dividends and a much more one sided second end gave us a win to 13, the match and a chance to stay in the top division, pending other results.

Sam and Claire took to court knowing that we had the match but performed admirably and knowing every rubber counts in such a tight division. They took the first end 23-21 (we love our tie breaks!), lost the second to 14 (we love our 3 enders!) and finally came good again taking the decider to 22-20 (told you we love tie breaks!)

The final result was a 6-3 win for Ranmoor in a game that saw some great performances to find a win against a great opponent. Thanks to Notts Northern for some good games. Thanks to Sam for saving his best game of the season for when we really needed it, and thanks to Lesley for babysitting so Claire could make the match.

Finally, thanks to everyone who has played for my combined 1 team this year, it has been a really tough division with every team having some fantastic players. We have not been without our setbacks, losing Mark S to injury just half way through the season. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope he can get back down on Friday nights soon and begin our summer training. We don’t yet know our fate after a few matches were awarded to other teams as walkovers and this has given them some last minute points that may see them pip us to survival. Whichever division we find ourselves in next year, this season has been a pleasure and I look forward to the next!

Rich W