Match Report - Norfolk 1 versus Kent 1
Norfolk badminton first team travelled to Castlemaine in Kent for their final fixture of the season. With 2nd place guaranteed and Middlesex I performing well the day before in the final weekend of division 1, Norfolk knew that a trip to the promotion play-offs was almost certain.
The disappointment of a late start was quickly overcome when 4 courts were made available for the entire match. The ladies singles players Devon Minnis and Louise Culyer faced the same opposition as the home tie and again easily defeated them, this time without even dropping a set. Kent’s men’s singles players looked strong on paper and even stronger on court. Number 1 Daryl Jacobs faced the same opposition as before in the return of the closest singles game of the season. After lots more pacing exhausting rallies and pacing around between points, Jacobs again came out on top 19 in the third. Number 2 Daniel Leers played probably the strongest 2nd singles player in the league in the shape of Ryan Staden, who to be honest would have beaten most of the number 1 players in the division. An excellent effort and some lovely play saw Leers lose out in two close sets.
Kent 1 – 3 Norfolk
Following 2 victories in the home leg, first pair Jacobs & Matt Howes had a complete reversal of fortune and lost out in straight sets to both pairs. Second pair, captain Justin Gerrard & Jono Atmore had a bit more success and although they lost convincingly against the first pair, managed to pip the very strong second pair to the post winning 19 in the third.
Kent 4 – 4 Norfolk
It was business as usual for Norfolk’s ladies who comfortably took all 4 games. Second pair Katherine Cooper & Toni Sturgeon started slowly in what was a freezing cold hall losing the first set but, after warming up, managed to win the remainder of their sets. Meanwhile, first pair Julie Pike (dressed for arctic conditions in a long sleeved undershirt) & Culyer cruised through all 4 sets. Ladies doubles finished, match won again!
Kent 4 – 8 Norfolk
Having been in this position against Herts in the previous match, 2 of the 3 mixed were required to take maximum points from the tie. Again first pair Jacobs & Cooper bagged the first win, this time in three sets. Third pair, Atmore & Culyer unfortunately lost out in straight sets leaving the score at 9-5 and second pair Gerrard & Pike on court starting the third end (again!). The brother/sister pair of Ryan & Carla Staden proved difficult and Ryan’s fitness and singles ability (allowing him to cover almost the whole court) came through for the home pair to leave Kent with a 9-6 loss and a losing point.
Final Score: Kent 6 – 9 Norfolk
With the Division 1 weekend finishing and Middlesex 1 avoiding relegation, Norfolk’s 2nd place finish (and a winning record of six wins out of eight) sees them qualify for the division 2 play-offs which I believe are on 27/28 th April in Milton Keynes.
Well done to all involved!