Lichfield were hoping to build on a good start to the Winter League but always knew that Burntwood A, who regularly challenge for the title, would prove a tough challenge, and so it proved to be.

The no. 4 strings got proceedings underway, with John Jacques up against the experienced team squash protagonist Jon Churchley. Jon raced to a 2 nil lead with a combination of deadly drop serve returns and generally good short game. John briefly upped the pace in the third, dominating through good length shots, but ultimately Jon’s more wiley short game proved too much – 3-1 to Jon.

Meanwhile, once court 2 had become available, the no. 1s got underway, this pitching John Sanders against the very skilful (and youthful) Sam Hill. John and Sam have played each other in the League a fair bit so know each other’s games well. However, John struggled to find his line in the first, conceding it with a Bagel. However, the next 2 games were entertaining and closer affairs, both players trading good rallies. John pushed Sam all the way, but Sam’s greater consistency told in the end – 3-0 to Sam.

James Roberts then took to the court, faced with another experienced campaigner, Mark Jones, playing in the unfamiliar no. 5 position. You might have expected a one-sided match, but fresh from watching the Birmingham Lions in the PSL the night before, James was finding decent length and seemed to be moving well around the court. Mark took a close first game, but James then dominated the second, tying the match at 1 apiece. However, Mark’s greater consistency told in the end, and despite both next games being close, he prevailed 3-1.

Next up were the no. 2s, Ben Estaugh v Matt Gripton. Both these players like to hit good length and hit it hard, which made for an entertaining prospect, and they did not disappoint, with some fine rallies up and down the side walls, both players waiting to pounce on any loose shots. Matt’s consistency of shot proved better in the first, taking the game 9/2. However, Ben then began to find his line and length, allowing him to dominate the T more, reversing the score of the first, taking the second 9/2. This continued in the following 2 games, with Ben ultimately wrapping up a fine 3-1 win.

Last up were the no. 3s, which saw Andy Whittingham taking on a familiar figure in the shape of our very ‘own’ Steve Coppard, who had agreed to guest for Burntwood as they had been depleted through absence and injury. Steve dominated the first 2 games, despite Andy’s usual good movement around the court which usually means he retrieves well. In the third, it looked like it was going to be an easy 3-0 win as Andy found himself 8-2 and matchball down. However, encouraged by segments of the ‘crowd’, Andy rallied and staged a great back from the dead comeback to take it to a tie break, which he duly took 10/8. However, the exertions of the comeback proved too much, Steve taking the decisive fourth easily 9/1 wrapping up a 3-1 win.

So a 4-1 loss (18-6) but some welcome points on the board plus some encouraging performances, so we take heart from that into our next match at home on Wednesday 3rd December v Four Oaks. #GoLichfield