Warwickshire County Darts Organisation have had a brilliant start to the new campaign in the Elite Premier Division of the UKDA National League chalking up six consecutive wins in their opening six games. However, game number seven was always going to be a real tester for them as they were travelling to St Thomas Club, Comet Road, Wigan, WN5 0ET where they would take on current divisional leaders Lancashire.
Prior to the encounter Warwickshire were placed third in the table with a game in hand on first and second placed Lancashire and Yorkshire, 27 points short of the former but only three behind the latter.
Saturday’s ladies ‘B’ game began with a 3-1 win for the hosts Audrey Underwood who came form 1-0 down against Wendy Adams to win 3-1. Denise Keyte restored parity as she, in a similar game to the opener came from 1-0 down against Tracey Cunningham to go on and win 3-1.
Lindsey Ashton (Lancashire) was twice pegged back to level terms by Melanie Jones before she got her 3-2 win to restore the home teams lead and at the same time take the match award for her 21.99 average. Game number four was another five legs affair with Marian Conway (Warwickshire) taking a 1-0 lead and then levelling at 2-2 against Sue Cusick before losing the decider.
The penultimate game produced Warwickshire’s lady of the match as Caroline Pike after leading 1-0 against Jackie Wilkinson then went 2-1 down but with wins in the last two legs she not only won 3-2 and took the match award for her 18.64 average but also kept her team’s hopes of a draw alive.
A draw was not to be as Lancashire’s last player on, Julie Carradus won 3-0 against Nina Bolt to give the home side a 4-2 win.
The men’s ‘B’ game got off to a good start for the visitors as Dave Hill accounted for Martin Barratt with a 4-1 result checking out on 112 in the final leg. Martin Tonks was made to fight all the way for his 4-3 win over Terry Hey as he went from 1-0 up to 2-1 down and then 3-2 down before winning the last two legs in 19 and 20 darts to double Warwickshire’s lead.
Lancashire got their first stripe on the board in the third when David Evans beat Mark Martin 4-2, Evans going 3-0 up, then being pegged back to 3-2 before sealing his win in the sixth.
Warwickshire’s two games buffer was restored in the fourth when Wayne Mynard (pictured) handed out a 4-0 whitewash to Rhys Griffin. Mynard kicked off his win with a 16 darts leg and then added 15, 20 and 17 darts legs to round off his victory and earn himself the match award for a 29.47 average.
From 3-1 up the score at the midway point was 3-3 as Stu Wilson won 4-1 against Mark Tomlinson and Nathan Care beat Adam Hancock 4-2. However as the second half began it was the away side that were first off the mark again as Mark Strong won 4-2 against Darren Latham. Strong won the first leg then lost the next two but clinched his win with further winning legs of 21,18 and 18 darts. For a third time in the game Warwickshire went two ahead, this time thanks to a 4-2 win from Carl Green who after trailing 1-0 and 2-1 to Tom Cromwell went on to take the running score to 5-3.
Lee Miller lost the opener to Sam Cromwell but then took leads of 2-1 and 3-2 before losing out in the last two legs to go down 4-3 as Cromwell sealed his win with a 150 game shot.
For a second time in the game the score was level as Andy Johnson beat Mark Carter 4-0 in the tenth and then for the very first time in the game and in the penultimate encounter Lancashire took the lead as Tony Baker came from 1-0 and 2-1 down against Karl Reynolds to go on and win 4-2 with a final three 20 darts legs.
The result was now hinging on the last game of the day and it was Warwickshire’s Scott Hope who saved the day as he beat Matt Clark 4-1, Scott recording a 12 darts leg in the third which included a 126 checkout to put the final score all even at 6-6.
Warwickshire’s ladies ‘A’ were going into their fixture with Lancashire unbeaten having won all of their previous six games, but this was one they would really like to forget as quickly as possible.
The home team began with a 3-1 win for Dawn Shaw over Tammy Montgomery but Shaw’s win was immediately cancelled out when Sue Gulliver beat Amy Eden 3-0, Gulliver taking the team’s lady of the match award not only for her 20.31 average but also for the fact that she was their sole winner as the following four ladies all lost 3-1.
Ellen Fletcher began the rout for Lancashire with her win over Natalie Gilbert, a rare defeat for Gilbert. Ally Smith made it 3-1 for the hosts with her victory over Angela Jones followed by Jenny Nuttall’s success against Donna Pinch and then the 5-1 win for Lancashire came in the final game when Eleanor Cairns beat Chloe McKivett, McKivett recording a 112 finish in the second leg.
To get anything out of the fixture Warwickshire men’s ‘A’ needed nothing less than a 9-3 win, they came close but unfortunately not close enough.
As the men’s ‘A’ match got underway first on for the away team was their man of the match from the previous day Wayne Mynard who once again produced the goods as he beat Rob Rickwood 4-1. Taking the score along to 2-0 was Jamie Atkins who was another 4-1 winner in his game with Lee Shewan. Kevin Dowling looked to be on the way to making it 3-0 when he opened leads of 1-0 and 2-1 against Martin Atkins before Atkins turned the screw and won the next three legs in 11,17 and 14 darts for a 4-2 victory.
Steve Reynolds looked all set to reduce the deficit even further for the hosts as he won the first two legs against Ian Shaw but with Shaw winning the next four legs he clinched a 4-2 win.
3-1 up and making it 4-1 was man of the match Prakash Jiwa. Jiwa had to fight back from 1-0 and 2-1 down to Adam Huckvale and then play a decider after his opponent won the sixth. Nevertheless in 18 darts, and Huckvale still way back requiring 109 Prakash Jiwa won 4-3 with a top average of 28.54. Going into the midway break Warwickshire were 5-1 up as Jack Wareing completed the first half with a 4-2 win over Gary Jackson.
The second half began as did the first with a win for Warwickshire in the opening two games. Tom Martin was on at number seven playing against David Airey. Martin went ahead in 18 darts only to see Airey then win the next three legs in 19,18 and 16 darts to go within an ace of victory. Martin won the fifth in 20 darts and then forced a decider with a 16 darts leg. With Airey requiring 165 after 12 darts Martin was throwing for 157 which he calmly put to bed with his fifteenth dart for a terrific 4-3 win. Taking the score along to 7-1 and at that same time keeping a possible overall win on the cards was Noel Grant. Noel came up with a 4-2 win over Michael Sexton, Sexton winning the second and fifth legs.
Lancashire got their second winner in the ninth encounter when Kevin Garcia won 4-0 against Steve Hine and although in the following game Michael Harrison went 2-1 and 3-2 up against Matty Washbrooke, Washbrooke confirmed his 4-3 win in the seventh with a superb eleven darts leg to give Warwickshire men’s ‘A’ an 8-2 lead and make the running score for the weekend all square at 17-17 with just two to play.
Unfortunately for Warwickshire, Lancashire’s last two players were in fine form as Carl Sneyd with a 29.08 average beat Steve Giddings 4-2 and anchor man Scott Taylor with a 29.16 average won 4-1 against Gareth Braham to give the final score of 8-4 to Warwickshire men’s ‘A’ but 19-17 to Lancashire for the overall weekend’s result.
A great performance from the Warwickshire team against very worthy opponents, however despite the narrow defeat all is not lost and there is still plenty to play for as with the top two Lancashire and Yorkshire having three more fixtures to play Warwickshire have four and although they are 32 points short of the former they are only just nine behind the latter.
Words: Alan Towe (With Red Dragon)
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