Salopian enjoy an impressive start to life in National League.

Following their inaugural 19-17 win over local rivals Shropshire, Salopian embarked on their first-ever away fixture in division three of the UKDA National League when they travelled north to take on Northumberland where they received a very warm North Eastern welcome.

Saturday’s games saw the ladies ‘B’ field the same team as in their previous encounter and unfortunately suffered a similar 5-1 defeat. Jan Wanless got the ball rolling for the home team with a straight 3-0 victory over Tammy Walmsley, the hosts lead doubled when Mary Pattison added her 3-1 success over Rachael Mooney to their tally and by the third game, Northumberland were assured of a share of the points as Marie Silk beat Cheryl Owen 3-0.

It was game number four before Salopian got their first winner, and as it turned out it was to be their only stripe on the board as Lisa Wills handed out a straight 3-0 defeat to Debbie Waugh and being the sole winner Lisa took the match award for her 15.03 average.

Sara Higgins beat Helen Walmsley 3-1 in the fifth and although Salopian’s Julie Pugh went 1-0 up against Gemma Slipper, it was the home player who got the 3-2 verdict in the last game to give a final score of 5-1 to Northumberland.

The men’s ‘B’ were hoping to add to their previous 7-5 victory and were given the ideal start as Joe Higgins won 3-2 against Paul Keogh. The following two games both finished with 3-1 scorelines both going to the hosts as Kev McGarry won against Glyn Thomas and Gary Broadhead beat James Carter.

Parity was restored in the fourth when Andy Mullinder came from one down against Reece Aitman to win 3-1. It was a similar story for game five as James Mansell dropped the first leg to Dave Wallace and then with wins in the next three games won 3-1 to see Salopian take the lead once again.

At the halfway stage it was all square as Doug Thoburn (Northumberland) won 3-1 against Tony Middleton.

Northumberland went ahead for a second time in the game as the second half got underway, Liam Forster adding his 3-1 win over Mark Jones to their score before Danny Oman increased the lead to 5-3 when he accounted for Dave Bishop with a 3-0 result.

Andy Gilbert momentarily reduced the arrears as he, with a 3-1 result defeated David Wright, only to see Dan Hallowell win by the same margin against Dave Phillips to put the home team within an ace of victory with a 6-4 advantage.        

The penultimate encounter produced Salopian’s man of the match as their Sacha Rothwell took on Gary Reed. Rothwell went one up in 21 darts but was pegged back to 1-1 when Reed won the second in 27 darts. A similar 27 darts leg for Rothwell saw him take the lead once again and with a 19 darts leg in the fourth wrapped up his 3-1 win with a 21.91 average. 

Rothwell’s win kept the visitor’s hopes alive for a share of the spoils. Alas, it was not to be a Mark Stephenson who gave Northumberland the close 7-5 victory with his 3-1 win over Scott Towers.

The ladies ‘A’ began with a 3-1 win for Evonne Taylor over Casey Stephenson, but from 1-0 up Salopian found themselves 2-1 down as Ang Turnbull and Dawn Longstaff in turn won 3-0 against Sue Lane and Julie Griffiths.

Game number four was another straight 3-0 result, this time going to the away team as Steph Clarke defeated Linda Smith to level the score at 2-2.

Northumberland forged ahead once again in the fifth when Sara Gowens accounted for Allison Gallagher with a close 3-2 win after Gallagher had opened up leads of 1-0 and 2-1.

The result now hinged on the final game between Angela Best and Sarah Roberts. The game produced the fourth straight victory of the match as Salopian’s Sarah Roberts won 3-0 and in the process earned herself the lady of the match award for her 21.78 average.

A 4-1 win in the opening game of the men’s ‘A’ match for Jon Mansell over Simon Tate was added to by Ash Hilditch as he put Salopian 2-0 up when he beat Lee Harrison 4-1 after Harrison had gone one up. Hilditch was in fine form as he levelled the game in 24 darts and then in 18,17 and 12 darts romped to his 4-1 win and the team’s match award for a super 27.12 average.

The lead however didn’t last long as Phil Rickerby came back from 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 down to win 4-3 against Scott Dockerty, and following Rickerby was Micky Ord who was again taken the full distance but won the decider against Paul Rowley. 

Salopian went ahead again in the fifth when Daniel Astbury beat Mick Stephenson 4-1 but at the midpoint of the match it was three each as Andy Parks (Northumberland) closed the half with a 4-2 win over Steve O’Callaghan.

For a third time, it was the away side who took the lead as the second half opener Eddie Price beat Paul Bell 4-3 in a ding dong game which saw Price have his lead cancelled out no fewer than three times. The visitors looked as though they would extend their lead when Kacey Jones went 1-0 and 3-2 up against Steve Wanless, but with wins in the last two legs it was Wanless who got the 4-3 result to once again level the match.

Yet again in the ninth game, the result went with the first throw advantage with the away side taking the lead, on this occasion, it was Ben Bevan who gave his teammates the 5-4 advantage as he beat Dave Wilson 4-3. As had now happened so many times before Northumberland came bouncing back to level the game, Paul Richardson coming from two down against Paul Ashworth to win 4-2.

Amazingly for a fifth time in the game Salopian’s men’s ‘A’ team took the lead as Robert Paine, who had trailed 1-0 and 2-1 to Ian Dawson, went on to win 4-2 to leave the result hinging on the final encounter.

Anchorman for the hosts was Richard Gerry who opened up a 2-0 lead over Dan James and although James fought back to go 3-2 up it was Gerry who won the last two legs to win 4-3 and earn his team a 6-6 draw.

The overall result was a 21-15 win for Northumberland but it could easily have been much closer as Salopian put up a real fight for the points. Despite the defeat Salopian remain in the top half of the divisional table, placed fourth and only two points behind third in the league Gloucestershire.


Words: Alan Towe

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