MAGHERAFELT travelled to David Lloyds for their Ulster Squash Premier Division League match this week and although Ray Hogg was unavailable Nick Hastings was returning to action. After two poor results in a row Magherafelt were keen to get back to winning ways!
Laurence Hastings was on first for the visitors at No. 4 against Irish veteran International, Michael Ellis, and he did not appear confident. After a recent run of poor results Laurence knew that it was important to get off to a good start. The opening game was “nip and tuck” but Laurence dug in to sneak through in the tie break. Michael struck straight back to level at 1/1 and had Laurence working far harder than he wanted. Laurence chased everything in the third game and again managed to edge through in a tie break, despite showing signs of physical distress.
Laurence commenced the fourth game in “automatic pilot” and although he had been out on his feet at the end of the previous game he developed a 5/0 lead. Just when it looked like he was going to go straight through and register an opening victory for the team, “the Titanic struck the iceberg”! A slight over-stretch in the next rally resulted in a pulled glute and Laurence, unable to continue, had to concede defeat despite leading 2/1 (12/10, 6/11, 14/12) and 5/1 in the fourth – not the start that was needed for Magherafelt!
In the evenings top match Jeremy Hastings was paired with Michael Craig. Jeremy started slowly going down 11/4 in the opening game. However, he regained his focus quickly in the second, coming back emphatically to level the match at 1/1.
He kept the pressure on his opponent in the next game, imposing a cruel work rate, playing the ball to all for corners.
Jeremy developed a healthy lead in the fourth but somehow managed to let Michael back to level terms, squandering several match balls. Jeremy managed to regain his composure in the tie break and took it to close the match out 3/1; 4/11, 11/3, 11/8, 13/11.
In the No.2 rubber Gareth Brown was matched with John Gillan and had high hopes of getting back to winning ways. Unfortunately Gareth did not start well and as he went further behind his confidence visibly dissipated.
He took the third game to keep the match alive and although John was fading rapidly, Gareth was unable to further extend the match. John took the fourth to win the match 3/1; 11/6, 11/8, 8/11, 11/4.
Nick Hastings, making his comeback at No.3, was tasked with needing to find a victory against George Morris to rescue a draw for Magherafelt – which was a lot to hope for! Nick started well but failed convert a good position into a winning one.
He came back well in the second to level proceedings playing intelligent, accurate squash. He worked hard to take a tight third game in a tie break to lead 2/1. George came back to take the fourth to level again and take the match the distance.
Nick started well in the decider and it looked like the overall draw (2/2) was going to be secured when Nick cruised to a 9/4 lead.
Unfortunately Nick failed to “grind out” the victory he deserved in normal time and George came back to take the game into another tie break.
Both players had their chances to seal victory in the tie break, but it was George who eventually came out on top to win 3/2; 11/8, 7/11, 12/14, 11/6, 15/13.
The overall result was a 3/1 (11/8) win for David Lloyds and again it was so near yet so far for Magherafelt. Magherafelt’s next match is away to Belfast Boat Club.