Essex Men's Over 35's Win The Day

ESSEX 035’s January 16th/17th Inter County Stage 2 Promotion Match Report

For the Over 35s Inter county Stage 2 we made our way to East Anglia Squash and Tennis Club in Norwich to play against Norfolk, Shropshire and Nottinghamshire.
With less than 24 hours to go Nottingham pulled out of the fixture which obviously caused havoc with the schedule and our plans. One down two to go!
The Squad was same as Stage 1 (Mike Lofthouse, Paul Hodge, Malcolm McEwen, Cliff Bennett, Anthony Savage, Dave Smith, Paul Wallace)
Unfortunately on the day Savage pulled out with what he described as a nasty cold. (Not that he knew but this turned out to be lot worse than a cold and he spent the subsequent days in hospital getting over Pneumonia.
An earlier than planned schedule also meant that Dave Smith would struggle to get to the venue on time.
The five players of Wallace, McEwen, Bennett, Lofthouse and Hodge would have to complete the ties.
The first Match off at 12pm was against Norfolk who we had beaten previously 4-1 (But that was a close affair)
Up First was a repeat of the number 5’s in Stage 1 which Paul Hodge had previously won comfortably 3-0.
However this time round things were proving tricky and the match was delicately poised 9-9 in the fourth. It was somewhat surprising to see Norfolk’s number five who wouldn’t mind me saying mixing it with the youngsters! .At 9 all Paul played a quality long intense rally that seemed to take away the legs of his opponent and helped him gain that important lead but still the his opponent hit back with a classy winner to tie the game at 10 all. However the rally previously was enough to give Paul 2 easier points to complete the first match 3-1 to Essex.
On the opposing Court, Mike Lofthouse at no 4 also had a battle on his hands. His opponent was proving difficult for Mike to finish off the rallies he was controlling and so this lead to a close tie that went the distance. At 2 games all Mike was finding better length and took control to finish off a well-deserved fifth. Giving Essex a 2-0 advantage
Next on Court was Cliff against a very classy No 3, who we had seen previously run Dave Smith close. However this time around Cliff proved too fast getting to his opponents short shots and playing some great counter drops himself. Cliff took the first game coming from behind which unsettled his opponent and then went on to play some excellent squash to close out the match 3-1 to give Essex the overall win.
Malcolm’s match was also a repeat of the previous leg which he had won a close 3-1. So another tough game was on the cards. Not to disappoint once again Malcolm battled through a long drawn out 3-1. With the rally of the day which probably lasted longer than my first match. Malcolm won this rally but lost the next 5 points!
I completed the tie with a relatively straight forward 3-1 victory.
A clean sweep for Essex 5-0

Norfolk Essex Score
Tim Allenden Paul Wallace 1-3
Tom Bobbins Malcolm McEwan 1-3
Steven Dawson Cliff Bennett 1-3
Hadleigh Farrar Mike lofthouse 2-3
Simon Howling Paul Hodge 1-3
Result 6-20

Norfolk then took on Shropshire which they managed to win 3-2
Now it was our turn to complete the tie.
Essex got off to a great start against Shropshire with Paul , Mike and Cliff all winning relatively straight forward games 3-0 to give victory for Essex.
Malcolm once again had his work cut out at no 2 but he looked to be turning the tie around after finding himself 2-1 down. However he was unable to convert a hefty lead (7-2) and lost a good quality game 3-1.
I then went on at no 1. I was a bit slow out of the starting blocks and my opponent took a 2-0 lead. However I managed to pull my game together and dug deep to take the match 3-2 and an overall victory for Essex 4-1.

Essex v Shropshire Score
Paul Wallace Barry Talbot 3-2
Malcolm McEwan Stephen Jenks 1-3
Cliff Bennett Trevor Stevens 3-0
Mike lofthouse Phil Gates 3-0
Paul Hodge Ian Dinwiddy 3-0
Result 18-5

Overall Result 1st Place Essex 2nd Place Norfolk 3rd Place Shropshire 4th Place Nottingham
Final Places Ties Points
Essex 2 38
Norfolk 1 20
Shropshire 0 14
Nottingham w/d

Well done team look forward to continuing up the table next year!
Paul Wallace

First on court were Mike and Cliff against Worcestershire 3&4. We had already taken a walkover at 5 as Worcester went from 6 players on the Thursday to 4 on Saturday Morning.
Cliff didn’t hang about trying to complete the job and came in a comfortable winner only dropping 16 points!
Before the start we all chipped in for team T shirts and the remaining money went to the player with the best winning score. So Cliff was now a short price favourite!
Maybe it was the cold conditions unusual for Kingswood that got Cliff off to such a flier. However for anyone who knows Mike it’s not beach weather until temperatures are well above 35 degrees! So he adopted a different tactic and stretched out the 3rd game losing 10 game balls and going down 18-16. Now he felt warm and he cruised to victory in the next 2 games winning 11/4 11/2 taking the tie 3-2. This turned out to be the only 2 points Worcestershire gained over the weekend.
Paul and Dave completed the Match with comfortable 3-0 victories to give Essex maximum points.
Worcester was keen to get their next match underway with Norfolk waiting in the wings. Whilst we all headed up to the bar for a very filling Chicken Curry!
Worcestershire didn’t make any headway against Norfolk and came in with a quick 0-20lose.
Norfolk must have took one look at us sitting in the bar looking rather stuffed and passed on eating before our scheduled match and requested to bring it forward to as soon possible hoping they could gain a tactical advantage.
Kicking off earlier than planned with a change of team Wallace, Savage, Smith, McEwen, Hodge
First on court was Paul Hodge and Malcolm helping Essex to a great start with a 3-0 3-1 win.
Next on were Dave and Anthony who were not having such an easy time and Anthony not having his best day on court went down 1-3. Dave had let a 2-0 lead slip and was now delicately poised at 2 all. However Dave’s vast experience probably was key, held his nerve to complete the team victory.
I then completed the match by taking a relatively easy victory but also bearing in mind the earlier target Cliff had set with his 16 points winning score line. Luckily for me I managed to win only dropping 11 points.
Final Results 1st Essex 38 points 2nd Norfolk 26 points 3rd Worcestershire 2 points
We would like to thank Club Kingswood as host venue and Kerry Munn for all her help.
Paul Wallace Essex 035s Captain