James Roberts reports:

Lichfield hosted table-topping Burton Manor in their last Central League match of 2014 and were brought back down to earth with a firm bump by a strong side who proved why they are where they are.

It was a battle of the captains again, as James kicked off proceedings v Nick. This looked like being a close affair, with the initiative swapping between the 2 players almost constantly during the 1st, Nick just edging it 9-7. However, Nick then stormed the second, giving James a mountain to climb, and despite a brief rally in the third (prompted by some good advice from the Lichfield ranks), Nick eased to a 3-0 win.

Playing at 4, Mike soon found himself seemingly staring down the barrel of a gun, going 2 down, with the second game being conceded to love, so another 3-0 loss looked on the cards. However, Mike found his fighting spirit with some great retrieving and deceptive squash, taking the next 2 to set up a tense decider. However, his exertions to get back in it took its toll, and his opponent Chris, probably at least 20 years his junior, took the 5th relatively easily 9/4 to take a 3-2 win.

The third string match saw John Jacques take on another John, and despite the serve changing hands often, Burton Manor John took the first with relative ease 9/2, aided by Lichfield John’s inconsistency of shot. This seemed to further fuel the inconsistency factor for Lichfield John, which further encouraged Burton Manor John to go for his winners, sealing another comfortable 3-0 win for them.

Next came a bit of a marker’s nightmare, with Bill from Lichfield matched up against the rather feisty Gavin from Burton Manor. Several hotly contested marker decisions on lets and strokes in the first 2 games punctuated the ebb and flow of this match, which was a shame as there were some good rallies amidst all this. Upshot of the initial exchanges saw Gavin narrowly edge the first on a tie break, with Bill returning the compliment in the second. However, once Gavin finally concentrated on his shot-making and with Bill rapidly tiring, Gavin was able to assert his superiority taking the next 2 games with ease 9/1, 9/0 to seal a 3-1 victory.

It was then left to John Sanders playing at no. 1 to try to restore some Lichfield pride, but this was always going to be a very tall order, as he faced the newly crowned Burton Manor Club Champion, Richard Smith. Richard promptly raced to a 1-0 lead with consummate ease, 9/1. John then managed to keep pace with Richard in the second, snapping at his heels and forcing a tie-break. However, Richard narrowly took this 10/9 and then went back to his devastating best in the third, brushing John aside 9/2 for a 3-0 win.

So, despite our best efforts, we were unable to halt the momentum of the League’s form team and ended the year on a bit of a low. However, we will come back in 2015 raring to go, starting with Oak Park away on 7th January. #GoLichfield