County newcomers Black Country are fast becoming favourites to take the UKDA National League Three title as in the follow up to beating Gloucestershire 22-14 at home in the opening game of the season they added a second win playing away against Shropshire.
Saturday’s games saw the advantage for the ladies ‘B’ sway one way then the other as Angie Carroll gave Black Country the early lead with her 3-1 win over Sophie Fawcett only to see Deana Sheldon and Jayne Downey reply for Shropshire by in turn winning 3-1 against Sophie Pinches and 3-0 against Sarah Tromans to give the hosts a 2-1 lead.
Parity was restored in the fourth when Shannon Hall (Black Country) won 3-0 against Kimberley Hewitt, but thanks to a lady of the match performance from Michele Pritchard (14.92) the home side went ahead once more with her 3-1 success over Stella Sims to see Shropshire move to within one more win for victory.
Anchor player for the home side was Kelly Haverson who won the first leg against Heather Wright. Heather levelled in style winning the second leg in just 17 darts, hitting 2×140’s in the process. The Black Country player then went ahead in the third with a 21 darts leg and wrapped up not only a 3-1 personal win in the fourth but also her team’s match award for her 20.71 average. The final score all square at three each.
Dave Bayton (Shropshire) was first on for the men’s ‘B’ side taking on James Hykin. Hykin with two 21 darts legs including a 130 finish in the second went into a 2-0 lead and although pegged back to 2-1 won the fourth in 18 darts for a 3-1 win. Doubling Black Country’s lead was Adam Edgar who like Hykin began with a 21 dart winning leg including a 108 outshot. Edgar’s opponent Mark Bayliss suffered on finishing doubles in the second and third legs, Edgar taking full advantage winning the legs in 24 and 22 darts for a straight 3-0 win.
Liam Kelly looked to be on the way to making it 3-0 for the visitors when he opened up leads of 1-0 and 2-1 against Martin Riggs but the Shropshire man stuck to his task and with wins in the last two legs in 18 and 17 darts claimed the 3-2 result to give his team their first winner and for himself the match award for his 27.63 average.
The home team’s applause was short-lived as Mark Rollinson and Lewis Law in turn handed out straight 3-0 defeats to Robert Pierce and John Simms to give their team a 4-1 advantage which was reduced to 4-2 by the midway point as Paul Bromley (Shropshire) closed the half with a 3-2 win over Tom Bissell.
The second session began with an award-winning performance from Black Country’s Martin Price who was chased all the way for his 3-2 win by Andy Vellender. However, with 21 darts wins in the first and third legs Price rounded off his win with a superb 12 darts leg with top scores of 180,121 and 140.
After going 1-0 up Dave Robbins then trailed 2-1 to Richard Bowen, but nevertheless, he bounced back and in 22 and 19 darts won the last two legs and the game 3-2 to give Shropshire their third winner. Nathan Storar added to the win by Robbins beating Lewis Shaw 3-1 to reduce the arrears to a close 5-4 with just three to play.
Phil Clarke looked all set to square the tie when he kicked off with a 111 finish in 21 darts and then won the second leg in 20 darts against Matt Coleman. The win for Clarke was not to be as Coleman came fighting back to take the following three legs and win the game 3-2 giving Black Country an unbeatable 6-4 lead.
The away side got the vital seventh win in the penultimate encounter when Chris Hickman beat John Speed 3-0 and it then appeared as though they would add another win in the final game of the day as their Shane Sheridan opened up leads of 1-0 and 2-1 against Rob Thompson but it turned out that it was Thompson who got the 3-2 result to give a final score of 7-5 to the Black Country.
Shropshire could not have had a better start to the ladies ‘A’ game as Marie Riggs fought back from 1-0 and 2-1 down to Doreen Hunt to go on and win 3-2 and in the process take the lady of the match award for her 16.70 average.
A 3-0 win for Grace Angell (Black Country) over Lynsie Evans cancelled out Marie’s win and with Steph Konya coming from 1-0 and 2-1 down to Becky Harris and going on to win 3-2, Black Country, from 1-0 down were now 2-1 up.
Taking the score along to 3-1 was the visitor’s lady of the match Tammy Chance. Playing against Clare Cunnington-Butler Tammy, after losing the third leg won the fourth for a 3-1 win which gave her an award winning average of 18.18.
Jenna Ball pulled one back for the home team as she won 3-0 against Lynne Reynolds, the final score then taken to 4-2 in Black Country’s favour when Chez Allcock won the last game against Kirsty Jenks 3-1.
Ben Johnson was in fine form for Shropshire as he opened up the ‘A’ team’s game with a 4-2 win over Rob Smith. Johnson having a 116 and 15 darts leg in the second, a 17 darts leg in the fourth and rounding off his win in 13 darts with a 28.30 average.
Martin Price, after winning the Black Country man of the match award in Saturday’s ‘B’ game was promoted to the ‘A’ for Sunday and did not disappoint as he won 4-0 against Reece Cooke-Lucas to level the score. Game three was another straight 4-0 win for the away team as an in-form Paul Wells rattled off winning legs in 16,19,25 and 11 darts against Brian Hickman to earn him the match award for his 28.23 average.
Shane Price looked set to increase Black Country’s lead when with a 156 checkout in the first leg, he then went 2-0 and 3-1 up against Chris Fox, but it was Fox with wins in the final three legs taking 15,18 and 20 darts who got the 4-3 result to level the score at 2-2.
With a 4-0 win for Ben Hollowood over Sam Aitkens followed by a 4-2 success for Trevor Brennan against Chris Williams the visitors were 4-2 up at the halfway stage.
From leading 4-2 the Black Country team were pegged back to level terms as early as the second game of the second half as Connor Pickett won 4-2 against Mat Tedstone and Andy Jervis beat Gaz Johnston 4-1.
Despite a 131 finish in the third leg Andi Chatter went down 4-1 to Steve Jones to see the away team forge ahead once again but the lead lasted only to the very next game as Martin East beat Dan Nicholls. East, after winning the first leg in 17 darts fell 2-1 down as Nicholls replied with 18 and 15 darts legs. Two 16 darts legs saw Martin East take a 3-2 lead only to see his opponent force a decider when he won the sixth in 20 darts. A 100 finish in a 15 darts leg saw Shropshire’s Martin East claim not only the 4-3 result but also the man of the match award for his 28.96 average as he restored parity for the third time.
The penultimate game saw Shropshire take the lead for the first time since they won the opener, Richard Parker on the mark with a 4-2 win over Jamie Barrowman, and with Parker’s teammate Justin Evans taking a 1-0 lead over Owen Maiden in the final game the hosts looked as though they could actually win the game. However, it was Maiden that won the next three legs, and although Evans pulled one back in the fifth a 15 darts leg in the sixth gave Owen Maiden the 4-2 win to salvage a share of the points for his teammates with the final score 6-6.
The overall result for the weekend was a 20-16 win for the Black Country to put them top of the divisional table with 48 points, but top only on average as Northumberland are on the same 48 points. Shropshire are in a mid-table fifth position with 33 points.
Words: Alan Towe, Lead Image:
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