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Lancaster 9-8 Sheffield
With Lancaster trailing Sheffield by three points in the league and having already lost 17-0 to them this season, Lancaster were looking not only to avenge the defeat but also to level themselves with their rivals in the table. With both teams comprising of four players each, each player took it in turns to play each other before a doubles-finale.
After a long wait for Sheffield firsts to even arrive, the first match finally got under way with Sheffield captain, Matt Goold, taking on Lancaster’s Jim Cao.
After an initial slow start and Goold claiming the first game, Cao managed to claw it back in an impressive first contest taking the match 3-1.
Despite the promising start, Lancaster were pegged back immediately with Sheffield’s Biao Yang defeating Reeve Lo 3-1.
The last of the initial contests was played out by Lancaster’s Liary Wen and Sheffield’s Janosch Prinz in what was perhaps the tighest contest in the whole match. Wen looked to have sealed victory after storming to a two game lead before Prinz’s excellent play pulled it back to 2-2. In an intense final game that finished 11-8, Printz managed to steal the contest 3-2, giving Sheffield an overall lead.
However, Wen made immediate amends for his first contest during the second set of bouts, as he brushed aside Sheffield’s Hera Tawfeeq 3-0 without conceding more than five points in each game. Wen’s rapid victory levelled the scores overall until Cao propelled Lancaster into a brief lead.
Like Cao, Lancaster’s captain, David Bruce, was also on exemplary form, winning contests against Sheffield’s Prinz and Tawfeeq, 3-1 and 3-0 respectively. After the minor set-back of a 3-2 loss to Sheffield’s Yang, Bruce continued his form as he faced his fellow Sheffield captain, Goold, in the one of the last contests of the match. Goold, who had a disappointing afternoon could only win the first game before Bruce swept up the points and took it to 3-1.
With only two contests remaining and Lancaster leading 8-7 overall, the penultimate contest saw Lancaster only needing to win the contest to win the match.
Lo and Tawfeeq, who had not won a contest between them all afternoon, were now ironically fighting it out for the spoils in what turned out to be a nail-biting affair. Tawfeeq’s decisive 3-1 victory spun the match on its head, which meant that the match winners would be decided in a doubles-finale.
With the scores level, it was down to Lancaster’s Cao and Wen to defeat arguably Sheffield’s best players on the day: Prinz and Yang. After some intense rallies and some premature celebrations from the buoyant Wen, Lancaster climaxed the match with a majestic 3-1 doubles victory to secure a hard-fought 9-8 win over Sheffield.
The victory means that Lancaster join level on points with Sheffield, albeit still trailing heavily on point difference.