National League:Division Three:
Northumberland v Salopian
Salopian embarked on their first ever away match in the UKDA division three when they travelled north to take on Northumberland where they received a very warm North Eastern welcome.
Fielding the same ladies side as there previous encounter, the ‘B’ team fell to a similar 5-1 reversal as in their previous game at home to neighbouring Shropshire. Lisa Wells (15.03) was the only winner with an impressive 3-0 victory although Julie Pugh (12.34) could consider herself unlucky not to win going down 3-2.
There were five debutants in the Men’s ‘B’ side, one of which was Joe Higgins (21.71), he was first on with a winning performance as Salopian tried to make inroads into the overall score. However the next two games went the way of Northumberland and it would take another debutant, Andy Mullinder (19.45) to level the overall score before James Mansell (19.17) included a 102 finish in a 3-1 win to put Salopian ahead once more. The hosts then reeled off the next three matches as the momentum shifted before the third debutant winner Andy Gilbert (21.05) who included a 17 dart leg in his win to keep Salopian in touch. Although Sacha Rothwell (21.91) put in a man of the match performance to give Salopian a fifth game, Northumberland’s ability to take games when it mattered won two of the final three matches to see them run out 7-5 winners to give the hosts a 12-6 lead overall at the end of day one.
It was essential Salopian ladies ‘A’ made a good start and an in form Evonne Taylor (21.33) duly obliged with an impressive 3-1 victory that included a 16 darts leg. Northumberland hit back taking the next two games without conceding a leg before Steph Clarke (19.03) levelled up with another 3-0 win. Allison Gallagher (17.52) checked out on 96 but was denied in the deciding fifth leg leaving Sarah Roberts (21.78) to put in a star performance to ensure the ‘A’ team remained unbeaten in their start to the season as both sides shared the spoils.
Jon Mansell (24.62) and Ash Hilditch (27.12) gave the Salopian ‘A’ men the perfect start as the overall deficit was reduced to just four games. Scott Dockerty and Paul Rowley both put in 26 plus averages but were denied in the deciding legs as Northumberland showed there class. Scott had fired a 156 checkout whilst Paul had two maximums, a feat matched by Daniel Astbury (26.38) in the very next match which Daniel won 4-1. Ed Price (24.18) was the next Salopian victor before Kacey Jones (26.27) lost another high quality match in the deciding seventh leg. Ben Bevan (22.51) restored Salopian’s lead before Rob Paine (24.92) fired two maximums in 4-2 victory to ensure the men’s ‘A’ a second successive 6-6 draws as they survived a stern test from a very good Northumberland side.
Although the overall score line shows a 21-15 victory for Northumberland they will certainly know they had been in a game that Salopian emerged from with quite a lot of credit.