Top play from under-the-cosh Sidmouth
Devon & Exeter 3 (18 pts), Sidmouth 2 (8 pts)
Sidmouth Squash suffered their first defeat since November when they were narrowly beaten 3-2 at Devon & Exeter Squash Club, writes Rob Cann.
With four of the top five ranked players missing, the side that travelled put up an excellent effort and were not too disappointed with the result.
Signed on the morning of the match, Julian Elson put in a splendid effort to defeat D & E fifth string Andy Bastone. In a rubber that could have gone either way, Julian held his nerve in the tie breaks and the final stages of the deciding game to win 10-15; 17-15; 17-15; 13-15; 15-13.
Rob Cann did not get much of a look in with fellow fourth rubber Tom Freeland. Tom was a comfortable winner 15-4; 15-9; 15-7 but Rob had his excuses, having run the Sidmouth Four Trigs 17-mile race only two days beforehand.
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The third string match proved to be the deciding rubber of the evening and the result ultimately decided the overall match winner. Paul Clare, after a slow start, found himself 2- 1 up against opponent Jon Newey, John levelled at 2-2 setting up a thrilling fifth game decider.
Paul led throughout and looked to be the winner at 14-11 but errors and some accurate length shots from his opponent led to Paul losing three match balls before losing the match 15-9; 13-15; 13-15; 15-3; 16-14.
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Playing two places above his nominated ranking Alick Russell was up to the task and opened up a two game lead over D & E no 2 Dom Hakes. Dom did not go down easily and won the third and a tie break fourth to set up yet another match to be decided in a fifth. Alick took an early lead which he never relinquished and took the decider 15-13 to conclude the rubber 15-9; 15-13; 11-15; 17-19;15-13.
With the match tied at 2 - 2 it was left to the top strings Nigel Desousa and home player Chris Key to decide the result. Unfortunately, Chris dominated the rubber, as the 15-7; 15-5; 15-6 result suggests, but credit should go to Nigel who played some of his best squash to date despite the defeat.
Sidmouth's next game is the Devon Plate semi final away to second division side Okehampton.