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MIDDLESEX 20 V 16 CLWYD 11TH-12TH FEBRUARY

23rd Feb 2017

With the celebrations for the victory over Norwich just three weeks earlier barely having subsided, Clwyd could be forgiven for feeling quietly confident as they travelled to face Middlesex at the Tithe Barn Sports and Social Club. An accident on the motorway, en route, caused a slight delay to proceedings, but once under way, the match proved to be as tight as many had already perceived it would be.

In the Ladies B, Middlesex fired the opening salvo as they took the first hard-fought set, only for Clwyd’s Katie Woodcock to immediately level with an excellent 3-1 win and a 19.54 dart average. Taking the next two sets, Middlesex took their lead to 3-1, until Clwyd’s Bethan Jones (3-2, 16.38 ave) pulled another set back, swiftly followed by player-manager Abi Hamilton, who fired in an outstanding 3-0 win with a 20.04 average, picking up the match award for her sterling efforts.

So, on to the Mens B, who, judging by the pre-match tables, were to be closely matched. It was Clwyd who started best. Paul Alley (3-1, 25.63) took Clwyd into the lead, although Middlesex quickly levelled in the next set. However, the Clwyd men rattled in the following three sets with wins for Jason Wilcock (3-2, 23.99), Luke Humphreys (24.24) and John Thomas (3-2, 21.76). Middlesex would not let the match get away from them though, taking the next set, before Clwyd’s Ricky Spender put in a fine match-award winning performance to win 3-1 with a 29.24 average. Once again, the hosts hit back to take the next set before Bryan Moran (3-0, 24.64) picked up another point for Clwyd. At 9-6, Clwyd were desperate to consolidate some sort of lead to take into Day 2, but it wasn’t to be, as Middlesex rallied to win the remaining three sets, including one from their own match award winner John Scott (28.79, 3-1).

So, all square at the start of play on Sunday, with literally everything to play for.

Clwyd went in front again at the start of the Ladies A match with a win from Jane Robson (3-0, 14.31 ave), only for Middlesex to once again level in the next set. The next two sets were shared and included a match award winning 3-1 and a 17.24 ave for Clwyd’s Glad Davies. The remaining two sets were also shared, with Middlesex’s Lisa Brosnan (20.04) taking their respective award.

After so much play, the teams were still locked in battle at 12-12, with the Mens A poised to be some finale. Middlesex started stronger, taking the opening two sets, including a seemingly David v Goliath second set which started with the hosts appearing to be extending the pantomime season…. Suffice to say that Clwyd were Grumpy to find themselves two sets behind, while Middlesex were certainly not Bashful, but Happy to be holding the lead. Clwyd’s Glyn Carus (4-2, 24.33) reduced the deficit in the next set, but missed doubles cost Clwyd dearly as Middlesex ran away with the next three on the spin. Clwyd’s Dean Williams (4-2,21.26) kept up his 100% record in taking the next set but the hosts were not for folding and took the next. Seasoned campaigner Dave Harroldstepped up for Clwyd next and demonstrated the art of finishing as he took the match award with a 4-1 win and a 27.08 ave. In the remaining three sets, only Paul Reilly (4-2, 23.23 ave) salvaged another point for Clwyd, but with a match award winning game from Middlesex’s Allen Bond (4-1,29.75ave) in the last set, the hosts sealed a 20-16 victory on their home turf.

Middlesex made up some ground in Division 4, but remain two points behind Clwyd, who now find themselves in third place but just three points adrift of second-placed Wiltshire. Realistically, table-leaders Norfolk look strong enough to stay in the promotion zone, but the runners-up spot is going to be closely contended. On the weekend of 4th-5th March, Clwyd play host versus West of England at Penyffordd RBL. Let’s get that momentum back and rack up points for the final run-in.