Merseyside v Derbyshire

Last season in division three of the BDO Inter County Championships Derbyshire suffered defeats in their opening four games, they then had a run of four consecutive wins and rounded off their campaign with a notable draw at home to Berkshire who gained promotion to division two as the division’s runners up. This season Derbyshire have begun their fixture list with an 18-18 draw away to Merseyside, a fixture that they lost 22-14 last season, so after a promising start could this be the season that sees them return to division two?

It was a somewhat strange weekend of darts as all four teams finished with a draw, something of a rarity. The ladies ‘B’ game swayed one way then the other as Emily Jones lost the opener to Janet Hardman 3-0 then Sara-Jane Harrison beat Sandra Rule 3-1 and with the same scoreline Carol Western defeated Viv Cullimore to see Derbyshire lead 2-1. Laura Thompson levelled the tie at 2-2 with her close 3-2 win over Jennifer McCormick and with a 3-0 win against Emma Varnham, Sarah Kershaw had restored Merseyside’s lead at 3-2.

With the result now hinging on the final game Derbyshire’s Dee Fenn stepped up to the oche to play Adele Mulligan. Fenn went two up with her opponent failing to reach an outshot in both legs and but for finishing doubles she could have rounded off her win in the third but it was Mulligan who claimed the leg with double sixteen. The fourth leg saw Fenn storm out in front once again and with a 59 game shot won the tie 3-1, put the final score all square at 3-3 and lifted the lady of the match award for her 17.77 average.

With 3-1 defeats in the opening two games as Mike Whitehead and Clive Rule in turn beat Keith Cooper and Michael Ryall, Derbyshire needed a quick response that was exactly what they got as man of the match Connor Hodgkinson stopped the rot with a 3-1 win over Alan Magee. Magee went one up in 17 darts only to see Hodgkinson level in 17 and then go on to win the tie in 18 and 21 darts to give him a superb 29.37 average.

Ian Allcock took the match to level terms when he also won 3-1 in his game with Ade Heathcote and with a 3-2 success for Lee Arkwright over David Calland Derbyshire had turned the game around and were leading 3-2.

It was all square at the midway point as Kev Kershaw (Merseyside) won 3-2 against Gary Fenn after Fenn had come for two down to 2-2.

The opening four games of the second half all went with the first throw advantage as Paul Williams (Derbyshire) beat George Bell 3-2 then Ant Hitchmough (Merseyside) won 3-1 against Steve Thompson.

Derbyshire took the lead again in the ninth when Andrew Gillott won 3-1 against Paul Hourihan only to see the home team draw level at 5-5 when Gary Carvell won 3-1 against Timothy Rippon. The sequence was broken in the penultimate game when Merseyside’s John Power beat Scott McCabe 3-2 after McCabe had twice cancelled out his lead.

The result now all depended on the final game and it appeared as though the hosts would claim their win as Leslie Street went 1-0 and 2-1 up against Robert Needham, however Needham stuck to his task and won the last two legs to give him a 3-2 win and put the final score at 6-6.

The ladies ‘A’ team won the final four games of last season and looked all set to carry on their winning ways as Sammi Marshall opened up with a straight 3-0 win over Sandra James and following up was Rebecca Hoyland who despite being taken to a deciding leg by Tracy Morrison, not only won her game 3-2 but at the same time clinched the team’s match award for her 20.00 average and took Derbyshire’s lead to 2-0.

Game number three was all about finishing doubles and taking advantage of Louise Rawson’s missed doubles was Claire New who won the tie 3-2 after Rawson had come from 2-0 down to level at two each. Restoring Derbyshire’s two games buffer was Jackie Sweet who with a 3-1 result accounted for Julie Whelan to put her team within an ace of victory. Alas that victory was not to be as Vicki Evans won 3-1 against Rachel Ayres and Emma Barlow took the result to 3-3 with her similar 3-1 success over Teri Bellamy.

After a promising start when Stephen Paling put Derbyshire one up with his 4-1 win over Kev McGrath it all went a little pear shaped for a while for the visitors as Craig Winstanley and Kevin Lloyd both won 4-2 against respective opponents Richard Hanson and Gary Fenn and with a 4-1 win from Dan Nuttie over Ryan Hassell Merseyside’s lead was taken to 3-1.

A 4-1 win from Lee Stanley over Mike Whiteside momentarily reduced the deficit for the away team but by the halfway stage Merseyside were 4-2 up as Steve Gow added his 4-0 win against Benjamin Holmes to their account.

The second half began with a win for Derbyshire’s Robert Hawker who defeated Dave Richards 4-1. Robert Gorst looked to be on his way to a win against Steven Soar (Derbyshire) when he won the opening three legs but Soar responded magnificently to take the next four legs in 18, 17, 19 and 17 darts for a wonderful fight back and a 4-3 win.

The match had completely turned around in the ninth as David Fritchley added his 4-3 against Jamie Green to Derbyshire’s tally to put them 5-4 up with three to play. Green had won the first leg, Fritchley the next three and with Green taking the next two it was all down to the final leg which Fritchley won on double two.

Sean Lambert (Derbyshire) won the first leg and levelled in the sixth against Garry Harris but it was Harris who won the deciding leg for a very close 4-3 win after both players had previously missed their doubles.

The penultimate encounter produced Derbyshire’s man of the match. David Harnick (Merseyside) won the first leg against Tim Daniels only to see Daniels level in 15 and go ahead in 21. Daniels then went 3-1 up with another 21 darts leg before sealing a 4-1 win when he won the fifth in 16 darts for a 27.42 average.

For the fourth time in the four games played over the weekend the result was left hinging on the final game and again for a fourth time it was the team that was trailing that won it as Brad Fleming (Merseyside) beat Ian Allcock 4-2, Allcock fighting back from 2-0 down to 2-2 before losing the last two legs.

An all over close encounter and although not a win for Derbyshire it was a very encouraging away draw.

Full Results:(Merseyside names first):Men’s ‘A’:- Kev McGrath 1 Stephen Paling 4, Craig Winstanley 4 Richard Hanson 2, Kevin Lloyd 4 Gary Fenn 2, Dan Nuttie 4 Ryan Hassell 1, Mike Whiteside 1 Lee Stanley 4, Steve Gow 4 Benjamin Holmes 0, Dave Richards 1 Robert Hawker 4, Robert Gorst 3 Steven Soar 4, Jamie Green 3 David Fritchley 4, Garry Harris 4 Sean Lambert 3, David Harnick 1 Tim Daniels 4, Brad Fleming 4 Ian Allcock 2, Men’s ‘B’:- Mike Whiteside 3 Keith Cooper 1, Clive Rule 3 Michael Ryall 1, Alan Magee 1 Connor Hodgkinson 3, Ade Heathcote 1 Ian Allcock 3, David Calland 2 Lee Arkwright 3, Kev Kershaw 3 Gary Fenn 2, George Bell 2 Paul Williams 3, Ant Hitchmough 3 Steve Thompson 1, Paul Hourihan 1 Andrew Gillott 3, Gary Carvell 3 Timothy Rippon 1, John Power 3 Scott McCabe 2, Leslie Street 2 Robert Needham 3, Women’s ‘A’:- Sandra James 0 Sammie Marshall 3, Tracy Morrison 2 Rebecca Hoyland 3, Claire New 3 Louise Rawson 2, Julie Whelan 1 Jackie Sweet 3, Vicki Evans 3 Rachel Ayres 1, Emma Barlow 3 Terri Bellamy 1, Women’s ‘B’:- Janet Hardman 3 Emily Jones 0, Sandra Rule 1 Sara-Jane Harrison 3, Viv Cullimore 1 Carol Western 3, Laura Thompson 3 Jennifer McCormick 2, Sarah Kershaw 3 Emma Varnham 0, Adele Mulligan 1 Dee Fenn 3.