London Pride – The Capital County Report! Cheshire & Cambridgeshire.

London started the New Year looking to stay in contention for promotion to the Premier Division. The first fixture of the decade saw them welcome league leaders Cheshire to the capital, as they sought to bounce back from a loss at Dorset in their previous match.

SENIOR COUNTY

The Ladies B got London off to the ideal start with a 4-2 sectional win. Tammy Mackenzie (19.72) made sure the match award would be handed out in the opening contest of the weekend’s action with a solid showing. After trading the first two legs she dominated the third, and although the fourth could have gone either way she found the outer segment when it mattered to get the hosts up and running. Lynne Biondini (13.45) was soon two behind. She avoided the clean sweep but never got a chance in the fourth to send it to a decider. Joanne Deamer (19.25) lost the opening leg but from then on she found her form and promptly rattled off three straight legs, denying her opponent a dart at the double in any of them thanks to some heavy scoring.

Carly Townsend (19.34) was quickly two adrift, before a sustained burst on the big trebles secured leg three. She had a chance to break in the fourth, but couldn’t quite do so and the sides were level again. London then ended the session with two important wins. Jane Biggs (17.88) seized the initiative from the off, as she raced into a two leg lead with minimum fuss. The loss of leg three didn’t have any negative effect and the fourth leg proved to be a carbon copy of legs one and two. The match winning double ensured that Biggs kept her unbeaten record for the season. The last match of the opening stanza was the only one that went the full trip. The opening leg took some winning, but Nikki Patten (14.68) soon put that behind her and cracked in a lovely 80 finish to take the lead in leg three. The fourth went with throw, and the fifth did likewise which gave London a two point lead going into the second session.

The Men’s B then took centre stage and produced a brilliant team performance. John Hind (24.14) wasn’t at the oche for very long at all. The first two legs were quickly in the bag, and a second break of the match in the third was capitalized on as Hind sealed the deal one leg later. Danny Brown (22.54) started well, but then struggled in legs two and three to get a look in despite firing in a maximum in the second. He was able to sustain the scoring and an immediate break back in the fourth was the turning point. He held in leg five and broke again to finish it off in the sixth. John McDermott (23.65) was donning the famous black shirt for the first time. A 61 finish was enough to take the second leg in 15 darts, but he lost the next two to be on the brink of defeat. He dug in well, breaking the throw in leg five before smacking home a great 74 checkout to make it a one leg shootout. He didn’t have the throw however, and that was to prove decisive.

The narrow loss was to be the only one in the first six games of the session, as London went on a three game winning streak. Matt Crowley (24.74) scored well, and was clinical on the doubles as he took the point in minimum time. Another whitewash soon followed, Matt Wood (24.74) matched the average of his team mate and was never in much danger. The win came in some style as Wood banged in an impressive 110 to immediately follow two scores of 100 and above to saunter to the point. Chris Holt (24.29) had to work hard for his win. He flew out of the traps, starting with a maximum on his first visit and ending the leg just 9 darts later with a sublime 100 takeout. Only one of the next four legs went Holt’s way and it seemed that the fine opening would not yield its reward. He broke throw in the sixth and survived match darts in the finale before finding the outer ring when it mattered most.

A rare reverse on the day came in the seventh match. Shane Wilson (23.99) had no answer to some quality finishing. He was on the receiving end of a 75, 148 (to cap another 12 darter) and 61 in three legs on the bounce, the latter clinching the point for the visitors. London then kicked on with the next three points all going to the Capital’s finest.

George Killington (24.69) traded the first two legs of an even encounter, but was more assured at the business end as he completed the task at hand in leg five. Gene Hill (26.03) claimed the match award on the back of some solid scoring on the big trebles. He was equally efficient when it came to concluding each leg and did so without the need to go beyond the minimum four legs.

Matt Edes (23.06) fired home a nice 75 finish as the first three legs all went against the head. The pattern continued, as Edes produced a 14 darter to leave it all square with three to play. The first hold of the match saw him go one away, and he ended the match in grand fashion, knocking over 73 to break his opponent for the third time. Cheshire did get a third point in the penultimate match. Wayne Brown (20.84) saw the first five legs all go with throw. The only break came in the sixth which garnered the point. London rounded off the day with a win in seven legs. Matt Winzar (23.63) was embroiled in a see-saw battle, but throw was his in the last and he made full use of it to give London a superb 9-3 win in the section and send them into day two with a commanding 13-5 advantage.

Sunday’s play began with honours even in the Ladies A. Steph Stutley (20.31) carried on the momentum from the previous day with a comfortable win in straight legs. Mandy Solomons (20.25) started brilliantly to take leg one, and although losing the next three, on another day could easily have come away with the point in what was a very even contest. Cheshire then took the lead on the day, Debs Watling (16.63) not quite at her best as she was seen off in minimum time.

Joanne Deamer (16.48) was making her second appearance of the weekend. Holding throw wasn’t easy, neither player making use of being first to the oche as legs one through four all went against the head. The fifth could have done so too, as the winning double was proving very elusive. With both looking at the “Madhouse”, it was Deamer who struck the winning dart. The last two games of the session also went the duration. Shaz Deboo Costello (17.30)

looked to be in control as she broke in leg three for the advantage. She missed match darts in the fourth and that as to prove costly as more match darts went begging before Cheshire edged it. Tammy Mackenzie (20.70) was also taking to the stage on consecutive days, in a game where the player going first was in total command in each of the five legs. Mackenzie cracked in a quality 80 finish in leg three and her scoring gave her the platform to square the section and take the match award in the process to round off a memorable weekend.

London went into the Men’s A only needing three points for the overall win and the vital three bonus points. This they achieved, but Cheshire aren’t leaders of Division One for nothing and London were made to fight all the way, with the first four games of the session all needing seven legs before a winner was found. Tommy Sanwell (28.23) came back from a three one deficit, a 104 finish sending it to the seventh. He never got a look in at the death and the point went to the visitors. Matt Crowley (23.97) also fired in a 104 finish, on this occasion to bag the opening leg. He lost the next two before responding in kind. He couldn’t break in leg six to get the win, but he made full use of a slow start by his opponent in the last to claim his second point of the weekend. Conan Whitehead (28.38) was involved in a quality contest. After being two one up, he had to hold in the sixth to extend the match, but wasn’t able to get the vital break.

Freddie Box (28.04) raced into a three nothing lead and looked well set. The winning leg was proving elusive, despite keeping up the barrage on the trebles. Eventually he got his reward when he held in the last. Pip Blackwell (27.92) was another to smack in a ton plus checkout, a 12 darter in the second leg culminating with a brilliant 121. That was to prove the highlight however as he lost the next three on the bounce. The sixth game was another that went the distance. Lewis McGurn (26.54) served up yet another 12 dart leg as he took out 81 to square the contest in leg four. Legs five and six went with throw, as did the all important seventh which McGurn took without being pressured to give London those three bonus points.

Now it was a case of how many more points London could get to close the gap on their visitors at the top of the table. David Wawrzewski (24.93) was defeated without getting a leg on the board. Will Blackwell (24.44) was well in command, banging home an impressive 141 to go three nil ahead. He couldn’t cross the winning line in the next and the fifth saw both players miss leg darts before Blackwell nailed the double. Graham Rackstraw (24.39) looked all set to add to the Londoners win tally when he took the fourth leg with a 76 checkout to go one away. He was pegged back though and missed match darts to break for the win in the finale.

Michael Power (25.15) shrugged off a slow start, signing off with a 76 for a win in six. That was the last victory of the weekend for the hosts as Cheshire claimed the last two points on offer without dropping a leg. Jamie Green (22.49) was always chasing in his loss, and Nick Cocks (20.15) scored well but had real difficulty in locating the outer ring in his contest, as Cheshire took the section 7-5.

London ended up with a fine 21-15 win that keeps them bang in contention for promotion to the top tier.

Cambridgshire Away:

London’s next fixture saw them make the trip to take on Cambridgeshire, who are always hard to beat in their own backyard.

The Ladies B once again gave London a good platform to work with, as they came away with a 4-2 win to stay top of their section. Jane Biggs’ (12.84) unbeaten run sadly came to an end, with a loss in four legs, despite firing in a 63 finish missed doubles in legs one and four were to prove crucial. London then assumed command with four straight victories. Mandy Solomons (21.78) claimed the match award with a classy display that was achieved in minimum time. Nikki Patten (15.89) put the visitors ahead. A lengthy third leg could have gone either way, but Patten kept her composure to take it and then kicked on with a dominant fourth leg to snare the point.

Carly Townsend (17.56) soon went two in front. She couldn’t break for the whitewash but ended the contest with a grandstand finish, cracking home a 104 for the win. Debs Watling (17.39) returned to winning ways, a composed performance yielding its reward in leg four. Michelle Fleming (16.43) started on the right foot, taking the opener but couldn’t keep the momentum going as she lost three on the spin.

Danny Faulkner (24.87) was first to toe the oche for the Men’s B. It looked as if he would bed on the wrong end of the decision, as he lost three of the opening four legs. Faulkner doesn’t give up without a fight however, and thanks to some improved scoring took the fifth and sixth without allowing his opponent a chance at the winning double. He then held in the last for the point. Jamie Green (17.81) never recovered after a sluggish opening leg. He did fire in London’s first maximum of the session in leg three, but had little else to shout about as he went down in straight legs. Danny Brown (23.08) sped into a three nil lead, showing a clinical composure on the doubles that his opponent was lacking. Despite losing the fourth, he soon regained the initiative and took the point in the fifth with real authority.

John Hind (25.21) kept up his good form with a battling win in seven. After losing the opening two legs, he roared back with a three leg burst of his own. He couldn’t hold throw in leg six to close it out, but a fine start in the decider followed by surviving match darts saw him cross the finishing line in front. Matt Winzar (22.79) led off with three perfect darts as he eased into a two one lead. A break of throw in leg five was critical and culminated with a third leg on the bounce against him to end it in the sixth. Matt Edes (21.60) banged in an 86 check in leg three, the first of four consecutive legs won against the throw. The pattern was reversed in the last as Edes succumbed without having a shot at the double.

Matt Wood (22.65) took the seventh game, some assured finishing saw him claim the win in the sixth leg, which was rounded out by a nice 52. John McDermott (23.47) is still searching for his maiden win, on this occasion he was defeated in the sixth leg. Chris Holt (20.73) looked all set to put another point in the London win column as held a three one advantage. His scoring eased and despite a good start in the finale on throw, the scores eluded him and the Cambridgeshire comeback was complete.

Wayne Brown (22.16) couldn’t prevent a third win on the trot for the hosts. He was soon three behind, but staged a recovery by winning the fourth and fifth. He wasn’t able to sustain the momentum and force a seventh leg. Gene Hill (29.68) took the match award for a second straight game. He fired home a 110 finish in the opening leg and broke for a two nil lead. He was pulled back to all square after four, but his scoring really kicked in and he sealed the deal in the sixth leg with a great 14 darter. The hosts took the final point on day one for a 7-5 sectional win. After looking dead and buried at three nil down, Dean Coughlan (24.37) showed real tenacity to hit back with three legs of his own to force the one leg decider. He couldn’t keep the momentum going against throw and didn’t get a chance for the winning double.

Day two began with the sides locked at nine apiece. The Ladies A fought hard to share the sectional spoils. Steph Stutley (19.63) scored well in the opening two legs which were shared, but couldn’t find the doubles from that point on. Lindsey Ashton (22.10) took the match award with a ruthless display. Ashton put herself in pole position with some heavy scoring and her efficiency on the trebles was matched when it came to hitting the doubles. The whitewash was duly completed with a 77 finish. Tammy Mackenzie (14.35) overcame the loss of a laboured first leg, taking the next two in much better fashion. The fourth went with throw, as did the fifth to edge the visitors back in front.

Another game to go the trip was the fourth match of the morning session. Shaz Deboo Costello (16.64) lost the opening two legs, but a brilliant 80 in the third was followed by a hold in an edgy fourth leg. She was always chasing in the last before eventually losing out. Joanne Deamer (20.02) banged in an 80 checkout of her own for a two nil lead, before closing it out in the fourth. The last game went to the hosts, Nikki Patten (17.37) was in a close game but had no answer to some good finishing.

So it was all still all to play for going into the final stanza. The Men’s A took three of the opening four matches. Tommy Sanwell (27.48) quickly established a three nil lead, and completed the job in the fifth. The next game also went five legs, but his time London were on the wrong end of the scoreline with Will Blackwell (28.29) losing out in a high scoring encounter. Matt Crowley (27.26) took the first three legs, and then missed darts for a clean sweep. Some fine finishing forced his opponent back into the contest and set up a tense finale. Crowley held his nerve, and the throw as he took out 60 for the point.

Michael Power (22.77) gave London a two point cushion, with a win in straight legs without being pushed too hard. The fifth game saw the best leg of the weekend. Nick Cocks (26.49) followed on from holding the opener with a brilliant 11 dart leg against the throw (180, 140,100,81). There was an immediate break back and legs four to six all went with the man going first. Cocks had the advantage at the death and a maximum set up what looked to be the match winning throw in his next visit. However, he could only watch on helplessly as his opponent pulled out a 170 finish from out of nowhere to grab an unlikely victory from the jaws of defeat.

The loss temporarily rocked London who lost the next two games. The sixth game also went the distance. Graham Rackstraw (25.87) held sway at two nil but found himself all square after four. He broke in leg five but couldn’t close it out in the next, and Cambridgeshire again came back from three two down to bag the point with a hold in the last leg.

Dan Day (26.61) was looking good at two one up, but lost three on the bounce as Cambridgeshire took the overall lead. London then showed why they deserve to be in the promotion mix. Freddie Box (28.86) overcame the loss of the opener on throw to hold in the next. He then assumed total control, regularly hitting the big trebles and completing a four leg win streak in style, only needing 44 darts in the last three of those and ending in style with a fine 81 checkout. Pip Blackwell (26.03) roared into action, banging home a 111 in the first leg. The second went his way but he was quickly pulled back to two apiece. Blackwell upped the scoring ante in the fifth, and a 95 finish saw the match winning break in leg six.

Ben West (26.17) looked all set to secure London a share of the spoils, taking three of the first four legs. This time it was the hosts who elevated the scoring rate and West was on the wrong end of a three leg run to leave the match in the balance and all tied up with just two matches remaining.

The tension was at fever pitch as Lewis McGurn (28.86) stepped up for the penultimate match. It didn’t start well, as opponent Dennis Harbour found his rhythm to take the first two legs. With both players finding the trebles almost at will, McGurn then rattled off three on the bounce to go ahead. Harbour smacked in a 121 in the sixth to set up a high pressure decider. McGurn wasn’t fazed though. The last leg was nip and tuck before McGurn rose to the occasion and took out 78 for a vital win which ensured London would get a draw at worst.

It weas now down to Lee Cocks (26.79) to try and get the overall win. After establishing a two nothing lead, legs three and four were traded. Cocks then took the match winning point against the head in the fifth, the 84 finish to close the match out a fitting end to a great match played out by two fine teams.

London stay in third on bonus points, and are just two points behind second placed Cheshire. Next up is a home fixture against Staffordshire on 29th Feb / 1st March. They then face West Midlands away (28th/29th March) and Humberside at home on 25th/26th April.

London will be playing their home games at Plumstead Common WMC, 71 Kirkham Street, Plumstead, London SE18 2JS. Entry for each home fixture is by wristband only, costing £4, which gives you admission for both days along with a match programme. The start time on both days is 11am. Hot and cold food will be available all day with drinks at club prices. All are welcome to come and support London’s finest in what should be a thrilling end to the season.


YOUTH COUNTY

London’s youth were defeated 12-3 at home to Sussex in their latest fixture. Their remaining games are; 23 Feb, Essex; 15 Mar, Kent; 5 Apr, Sussex; 3 May, Essex


MEN’S SUPER LEAGUE

With four rounds to go, reigning Champions Welling A are top of Division One on 77 points. Woolwich Ferry will still harbour hopes of dethroning the title holders, but have five points

to make up. Plumstead are third (70), followed by Romford A (64), Wood Green (63), Bethnal Green (48) and Lewisham (47), Bermondsey prop up the division on 33 points.

Woolwich head up Division Two with 89 points, and only need 13 points from their remaining fixtures to take the crown. Welling B (73) aren’t giving up the chase just yet. Romford B come next (68). Following them are Chadwell Heath (65), Clapton (54), Greenwich (50) and Southwark (42). Vauxhall (32) look like they will be holding the wooden spoon.

LADIES SUPER LEAGUE

Edmonton look set to retain their title in the Ladies Super League. Their tally of 81 points gives them a virtually unassailable lead of 23 points over The Nobodies, who occupy second spot. Wanderers (57) and Booshes (55) will ensure a three way tussle over the runners-up place. Ninjas (43) and Clapton (25) are next.