Norfolk 1 v Middlesex 2 - Match Report
Norfolk county badminton first team hosted Middlesex in their latest fixture last Sunday. With unbeaten Middlesex topping the table and looking like they would comfortably win the division, Norfolk were hoping to pick up as many points as possible to strengthen their position in 2nd with a good chance of making the promotion playoffs. This time Norfolk had a full team and was aiming to better the 10-5 loss in Middlesex in December, despite the opposition bringing a team at least as strong as before.
The singles showed a complete reversal of fortune compared to last time with Norfolk losing both men’s singles in 3 sets: Daryl Jacobs losing out to brother Steven and Ryan Leung losing to the experienced Middlesex number 2. Having lost both ladies singles last time both girls showed spirited performances to beat their opposition: Devon Minnis winning in 3 and Louise Culyer winning in straight sets against a very strong opponent.
Middlesex 2 – 2 Norfolk
Having picked up only one ladies doubles last time the Norfolk girls (as usual) showed that this event is definitely Norfolk’s strongest by winning all 4 and only dropping 1 set out of the 9 played. I am running out of superlatives to describe our ladies’ doubles pairs but to try and put how good this was into perspective, these Middlesex ladies’ doubles pairs had only lost 2 games out of 16 across the whole season (and one of those was to a Norfolk pair in the earlier fixture). Well done again to both pairs (Julie Pike & Culyer and Katherine Cooper & Toni Sturgeon).
Middlesex 2 – 6 Norfolk
After losing all 4 games last time out things didn’t look any easier for the men’s doubles pairs as the opposition were at least as strong. This time, however, things were different. With all four games going the full distance, fitness and determination were going to play a massive part and, as always, it was going to be entertaining! First pair Jacobs & Matt Howes managed to overcome the unbeaten Middlesex pair whilst second pair Jono Atmore & captain Justin Gerrard did equally well to beat their counterparts. Unfortunately, the crossover games both went the way of Middlesex. Although, given the closeness of all four games, a share in the spoils seemed the fairest outcome.
Middlesex 4 – 8 Norfolk
With the match won, and at one point an 8-2 lead, Norfolk were hoping to claim all three points. Norfolk needed two of the three Mixed doubles to take all 3 points and a monumental victory. All 3 games went on court together and 3rd pair Atmore & Culyer were first to finish going down in two close sets. 2nd pair Gerrard & Pike were out for revenge on the pair they lost to (23-21 in the third) last time out and after winning the first end to 15 looked confident. Unfortunately the game changed and the Norfolk pair again lost out in 3. With the points for the match decided 1st pair Jacobs & Cooper were playing for pride (and their unbeaten record). The strong Middlesex pair made things difficult by edging the first set 26-24. Jacobs and Cooper fought back to win the second set to 15. In what seemed a day of 2 halves it was inevitable that the Middlesex pair would also edge the mail-biting final set, they did this 24-22.
Final Score: Norfolk 8-7 Middlesex.
The match was a roller coaster ride of fun, unfortunately ending on a bit of a low, with Middlesex winning the last 5 games. However, we mustn’t forget that 2 points is a fantastic result that no other team has achieved this season. Hopes of promotion are still high, although winning the division is now very unlikely. Well done to all who played and thanks to everyone who supported.