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Lonsdale men’s darts team produced an assured display to see off last year’s runners up, and current contenders, Pendle 6-3. In a vital league fixture the tension was obvious as many of the matches failed to live up to their lofty billing. Although Lonsdale will be happy with their victory, having been 4-0 up they may have hoped to inflict a heavier defeat on Pendle.
The first tie of the night saw an uncharacteristically strong match-up for an early contest; with Roses seeds Nick O’Malley and John McGathan taking to the oche. In what was a tentative start to the match O’Malley found himself 100 behind; however a massive 180 considering the circumstances changed the balance of power, only for McGathan to hit the double first. However, O’Malley stepped up his scoring in the remaining legs and managed to take the tie 2-1 to give Lonsdale the ideal start.
Next up Pendle pitched Joe Chadwick against Lonsdale licensee Andy Shaw. Once again Pendle struck first as Chadwick took the initiative. However, Shaw checked out on double ten in both the legs that he won to give his side a 2-0 lead. This match was not a classic though, with Shaw squandering countless doubles and Chadwick unlucky not to check out in the second leg.
With Pendle in real trouble, it was up to Tom Guyler to try and beat Lonsdale barman Matt Gilford, who had the impressive record of 7-0 for the season so far. In what proved to be a close encounter, it was the slick finishing of Gilford that gave him the edge and allowed him to close out the decider and put Lonsdale into a 3-0 lead.
Next to try and stop the rot was the infuriatingly inconsistent Alex Perry, facing off against Paddy McDonough. With the impressive scoring of McDonough, it appeared that Perry would be blown away; however some double trouble briefly allowed Perry back in; before McDonough checked out. The second leg followed much the same pattern with Perry visibly frustrated by his inability to get a double, which allowed McDonough to claim a 2-0 win and give Lonsdale an ominous 4-0 lead.
In what proved to be the best game of the night Max Sanders aimed to give his side an unassailable lead against Matt Edwards. The first leg was exhibition stuff from Sanders as he threw a 16 darter to give Edwards no chance and put Lonsdale on the brink of victory. However, Edwards responded and hit numerous tons to recover and take the last two legs to give Pendle their first victory of the night.
In another heavyweight contest Lee Osborne faced off against Tom Reynolds. On paper it was Reynolds who was the stronger player, but neither could achieve their usual standard in this contest. Although Osborne performed admirably to level the tie after being behind, he was unable to capitalise on Reynolds’ inability to hit the double, as the Pendle man finally checked out on double one after a mammoth bout of double trouble for both players.
With the score now at 4-2 and the Pendle players believing that the comeback was on, Nick Walton was charged with stopping them in their tracks as he played Pat Minard.
However, in a very one-sided affair, Minard comprehensively outplayed Walton to win 2-0 and cut Lonsdale’s lead further.
Carl Lever faced the growing pressure as he took on Pendle’s Ben Staley.
In what should have been a close affair, it was Lever; brimming with confidence after a recent call up to the Blackburn Super League darts side, that swept Staley away to record a convincing 2-0 win and finally secure the overall victory for Lonsdale.
The final contest saw Simon White face off against Rob Hallas. This proved to be an unusual game with neither player scoring very well. White was continually distracted by a non-playing and slightly intoxicated member of the Lonsdale crowd and which no doubt affected his game. When the offending party was removed it was plain sailing for White who bombarded the 19s; scoring 121, 117, and 133 whilst looking confident on his doubles.
A 6-3 win for Lonsdale gives them real hope in the title race and looks like ruling Pendle out of the running. With Lonsdale and Grad having a game in hand on Bowland and Pendle it looks to be a two horse race; however, darts is so unpredictable and there may well be more twists and turns in the remaining few games.