With Graduate College men’s darts team having had a disappointing beginning to the new term it was down to Cartmel College to try and continue their miserable in this fixture. Both teams were under strength with Pat Williamson missing for Grad and Scott Gibson and Matt Dawson otherwise engaged for Cartmel.
By playing Pete Watt first up, Grad aimed to name big and take an early lead. Ben Smith stood up to the oche for Cartmel, and even with Watt hitting two 140s in the second leg both games went down to doubles, the outcome finally being in favour of the Grad player to give Grad a positive start.
With the task of trying to help Cartmel get out of the blocks, Mark Lucas was named to face Gavin Reid. Both competitors hit good scores and at 1-1 the final leg was just as close as the others, the tension building as the players couldn’t set up their finishes. Lucas came out on top to level the match, with the required double 7 although Reid will feel disappointed that he wired several double attempts.
Matt Todd was next in line for Graduate facing the intimidating figure of Walter Taylor. Both took their time to warm up and although Taylor put pressure on the first leg finish with two treble 19s, Todd got what was needed to place Grad back on top with a 2-0 win.
Missing two of their usual players, Cartmel were forced to play Chris Palmer versus the seasoned campaigner and Roses extraordinaire Richard Floyd. The task facing Palmer was a hard one and although he put together some decent scores, Bob was unfaltering and coolly despatched his opponent 2-0 to put his team into a 3-1 lead.
The next game was just as uneventful as Philip Flenley took on Neil Simcock. With few trebles there was little to shout about but Flenley snatched the game 2-0 to help Cartmel reduce the deficit. Both players were slightly below par on the night but Flenley showed that bit more class in hitting the doubles.
The next encounter was also slow as Mike Phelan went to battle with Mike Walton. Neither player quite hit top form as the pressure of facing his old side affected Phelan and Walton did not adjust well to the pedestrian pace of the throwing; caused by Phelan’s long walks in between sets. However, the doubles went well for Phelan leaving Cartmel pointless for all Walton’s efforts and putting Graduate 4-2 up.
Although some of the games had been reasonably passive the match-up between Cartmel Captain Mark Sercombe and George Hardy threw a bit of life into the fixture. Although trailing after a good leg by Hardy, Sercombe soaked up the pressure to hit a strong one dart double 9. The third leg was close once more with contributions to the scoring being strong from both players. However, Hardy was the one to clinch the game with a solid double 8 to put his side into an unassailable 5-2 lead.
Graduate favourite and hero to those in need of a full English, ‘foodhall’ Dave played Dan Williams in game 7. Dave took the first with consistent scoring, but Williams fought back, winning the double-one-shoot out to level the game. In the third leg Williams hit a nice T18 to leave D18 but Dave Johnson struck his double first.
In an attempt to make the score more respectable for Cartmel, James Whittaker was pitted against Grad Captain and Cartmel dean, Tom Webb. Although Whittaker kept Webb on his toes, the winning darts were thrown by Webb who, with the backing of the crowd, was able to seal what was now a convincing 7-2 Graduate victory. The steely determination of Webb should serve as a statement of intent for the remainder of the season. His usual jovial demeanour was not on show in this encounter as he focussed solely on hitting the required doubles to press home Graduate’s advantage.
The 9 points gained by Graduate gives them renewed hope of clinching the title after a poor run of form. In contrast, Cartmel will now be looking to consolidate in mid-table and stay above teams such as Fylde and Furness.