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SENIOR COUNTY (October 2019)
London began the new campaign in BICC Division One with their first opening weekend win in four seasons, as they defeated Hertfordshire on the road.
The Ladies B got off to a flier, taking the first three games in the opening stanza. Michelle Fleming (14.83) had the honour of starting off the new season for the Londoners, and battled back well from two-one down to take the point in a nervy decider. The second match went the distance too. Match award winner Mandy Solomons was involved in a close game and survived match darts in the finale to double the visitors lead.
Things got even better when Jane Biggs (15.49) swept to a straight legs victory with the minimum of fuss. Hertfordshire has a good squad from which to choose from, and they showed their mettle to come back and square the section. Lynne Biondini (13.80) took the opening leg, but missed darts in leg three proved to be her undoing and she went down in the fourth. Tammy Mackenzie (16.33) took her game to the last leg, a brilliant 81 finish under pressure sent it to the finale and she just missed out with match darts. Joanne Deamer (17.54) scored well but didn’t manage to get a leg on the board.
The afternoon session started with a win for new Captain Danny Brown (21.42) to kick off the Men’s B, coming back from an early two-nil deficit to win in six. The second contest went the distance, Matt Winzar (23.02) not being able to break throw at the death. The hosts took the next point, Shane Wilson (23.49) being seen off in six. London then posted three wins on the trot. Matt Crowley (22.89) started off with a checkout of 80, and only dropped the one leg. Debutant Jamie Green (21.63) got a win in six legs and will be better for getting the maiden win under his belt. With the men’s squad being strengthened with some quality additions, the B side also sees the benefit. Graham Rackstraw (24.14) will hope his time in the Saturday side is brief, and he fired notice that he wants his A spot back sooner rather than later with a four-leg demolition job. The seventh tie saw Tony Hamit (18.55) struggle to find any consistency as he was seen off without getting a leg on the board. The match award was claimed in the next match on stage, as Ben West (26.27) continued his fine run of form since being called up to the squad, after losing the first two legs, he took the third with a sublime 150 outshot which began a run of four legs on the trot.
Chris Hogg (22.47) started his contest with a 105 checkout, but lost the next three and was eventually beaten in the sixth leg. Liam Hill (23.68) ensured that London would end the day level at worst as he won handily enough in the fifth. The day’s other new boy, Freddie Box (21.52) didn’t have the best beginning but showed some fight to come back from three-nil down before being seen off in leg six. The day ended with another win, this time from the improving John Hind (24.48) who only dropped the solitary leg to give the visitors a 7-5 win in the section and a two-point cushion heading into the final day.
The third session, as always, began with the Ladies A. The first two games both went to the hosts. Shaz Deboo Costello (19.82) gave as good as she got, but didn’t quite have the firepower and was defeated in four. Carly Townsend (13.79) lost in straight legs and is capable of much better as she has shown on numerous occasions in the past and will do so again as the season progresses. London got off the mark for the day in the third game, Steph Stutley (20.38) had to show real resolve, coming back from two nil down to take the point. Nikki Patten (17.69) battled away as she always does, but was defeated in the fourth. Casey Gallagher (20.88) was back among the London ranks, and marked her return by taking the match award as she swept to a win in straight legs. The final point of the session went to Hertfordshire, Debs Watling (18.02) going down in four legs in a game where it could easily have gone the other way.
The 4-2 win meant that the match was all square with everything to play for heading into the Men’s A. Will Blackwell (23.16) was the first name drawn out of the hat and forged his way into a three-two lead. After being taken to the decider he could not hold throw and the opening point went to Hertfordshire. London then went on a charge to leave their opponents on the verge of defeat, as they rattled off six wins in succession. Conan Whitehead (27.08) got the ball rolling, with a comfortable victory in minimum time. Pip Blackwell (26.17) got the first of what should be many wins for the Londoners, getting the job done in the sixth leg. The matching award went to David Wawrzewski (27.78) who unleashed the Polish Power right from the off with a sparkling 13 dart leg to bag the opener and then sealing the deal in the sixth. Ben Cheeseman (23.79) kept the win streak going and by now it was full steam ahead as Tommy Sanwell (27.25) smacked in a 119 checkout en route to a six-leg win. Lewis McGurn (26.56) then joined in the fun with his best performance in some time, the highlight being a 156 checkout to cap off a quality 12 dart leg, which should set him up nicely for the months ahead.
London had now guaranteed themselves a bonus point at worst, and the only thing in question seemed to be how wide the margin of victory would be. The hosts were well and truly on the ropes, but fought back with real tenacity and climbed off the floor with four wins on the bounce. Wayne Brown (20.41) won the opening leg but never got in a telling blow after that as he was beaten in five. Danny Faulkner (25.02) took two of the first three legs but then lost the following three. Daniel Day (23.75) was back in the black shirt, but couldn’t make his return a winning one as he lost in five. Hertfordshire was now harbouring real hopes of completing a remarkable comeback and Nick Cocks (22.72) was unable to stem the tide, losing in five after taking the opening leg.
So barely an hour after thinking it was all plain sailing, London now had to win the final match of the weekend in order to take the three bonus points……..
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